On April 8, 2009, a group of African American barbers and barbershop owners filed a lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. §1983 and the Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. §§ 2201(a) & 2202 in the United States District Court for the Central District of California, Eastern Division- Riverside. The plaintiffs, ...
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On April 8, 2009, a group of African American barbers and barbershop owners filed a lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. §1983 and the Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. §§ 2201(a) & 2202 in the United States District Court for the Central District of California, Eastern Division- Riverside. The plaintiffs, represented by lawyers from the ACLU-Foundation of Southern California, asked the court for declaratory, injunctive and other appropriate relief, claiming that the Defendantshad conducted racially motivated searches of their barbershops without warrants, constituting violations of their right to Equal Protection and their federal and state constitutional right to be free from unreasonable search and seizures.
Specifically, the plaintiffs claimed that the City and its Police Department had conducted racially motivated searches of their barbershops under the false pretext that the searches were a part of the State Cosmetology Board's health code inspection enforcement program. The plaintiffs alleged that armed police officers entered their barbershops without a warrant and conducted extensive searches of the premises unrelated to any potential code or health violations. While inspectors from the State Board of Barbering and Cosmetology accompanied the police officers, the Plaintiffs allege that the police officer's conduct during the searches was more like a narcotics raid than that of a civil code inspection. More specifically, the police officers blocked the front and back entrances of the shops and detained anyone who protested against the searches.
On a motion to dismiss, the district court dismissed the equal protection claim against the individual Code Enforcement and Board inspectors for a failure to state a claim that they had conducted the "raids" with discriminatory intent. However, the district court denied the motion to dismiss as to all of the other claims.
Soon after, the Plaintiffs began to settle their claims with the defendants. In a stipulation with the Director of the State Board of Barbering and Cosmetology, the Board agreed to change its policies regarding code enforcement. Specifically, the Board agreed to include in its Inspector Manual clarifications regarding its Anti-Discrimination Policy in Enforcement Actions and a statement of its policy regarding joint inspections with outside agencies. The statement regarding joint inspections with outside agencies affirmed that the Board would not provide outside law enforcement agencies with a pretext for achieving any law enforcement purpose other than code enforcement. Furthermore, the joint inspection policy reaffirmed that the participation of board inspectors would not be used to justify warrantless searches of regulated premises by other law enforcement agencies. Additionally the board agreed to expand the anti-discrimination training it gives to its code enforcement inspectors. Lastly, the board agreed to pay $62,910.30 in attorney's fees and costs.
The county defendants agreed to pay $32,500 in damages and $66,500 in costs and attorneys' fees. Furthermore, the county agreed to send its supervisory law enforcement staff to the Museum of Tolerance's "Tools for Tolerance for Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice" program. Moreover, the county sheriff's department agreed to send its supervisors to meet with members of the Los Angeles Police Department to discuss its procedures for biased policing complaint investigations and adjudications.
The court retained jurisdiction for three years to ensure that the settlement is enforced.Justin Benson - 05/23/2011