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Case Name Calhoun v. Pennington PN-GA-0003
Docket / Court 1:09-cv-03286 ( N.D. Ga. )
State/Territory Georgia
Case Type(s) Policing
Attorney Organization Lambda Legal
Southern Center for Human Rights
Case Summary
On November 24, 2009, patrons of Atlanta Eagle, a gay bar in Atlanta, Georgia, filed a lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the city of Atlanta, the chief of police and officers of the Atlanta Police Department in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta Division. ... read more >
On November 24, 2009, patrons of Atlanta Eagle, a gay bar in Atlanta, Georgia, filed a lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the city of Atlanta, the chief of police and officers of the Atlanta Police Department in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta Division. The plaintiffs, represented by private lawyer Dan Grossman, and public interest lawyers from Lambda Legal Defense and the Southern Center for Human Rights, asked the Court for damages and declaratory and injunctive relief to redress defendants' violations of plaintiffs' rights under the U.S. Constitution and Georgia Constitution to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. Specifically, plaintiffs claimed that the police action was taken without any particularized reasonable suspicion or probable cause to believe that any individual, was involved in any criminal activity. The plaintiffs also sought redress for the numerous state law torts committed by individual defendants, including false imprisonment, assault, battery, and trespass.

According to the Complaint, on September 10-11, 2009, a paramilitary, SWAT-type force of Atlanta police officers entered the Atlanta Eagle without a warrant, claiming to be searching for public sex, drugs, and illegal weapons. The police forced dozens of bar patrons to lie face-down on the floor, which was covered with spilled beer, dirt, and broken glass. Officers allegedly made threats of violence and anti-gay slurs. Plaintiffs claim that although they were not suspected of any criminal activity, police officers emptied their pockets, confiscated their IDs, and entered every patron's name into a police computer. After the raid, not a single patron was charged with any crime, and no weapons, drugs, or evidence of sex was found.

In December 2010, the parties reached a settlement that requires the Atlanta Police Department to rewrite their policies regarding arrest, search and seizure, and to make other changes to protect the public from police misconduct. The settlement required, among other provisions:
  • Changes in search and seizure policy to accord with a set of legal principles spelled out in the settlement, covering the requirements for arrests, stops, and searches.
  • All Atlanta police officers in uniform must wear a conspicuously visible nametag, and any Atlanta police officer who is in uniform or has displayed a badge or other indicia of police authority must identify himself by name and badge number upon request at some point before the end of an encounter with a civilian.
  • Atlanta police officers may not interfere in any way with a citizen's right to record police activity
  • Payment of $1,025,000 by the City of Atlanta.

Judge Timothy C. Batten, Sr. issued an Order to approve the settlement agreement on December 8, 2010. The Court (Judge Batten) retained jurisdiction to enforce the City of Atlanta's agreement to the entry of a Consent Order containing the terms of the settlement if it failed to implement the actions set forth in the settlement agreement within 180 days of the entry of the Order.

On June 16, 2011, Plaintiff filed a motion for sanctions on the grounds that the Atlanta Police Department had not implemented the police reform policies outlined in the settlement agreement. The police department agreed to implement the policies if Plaintiffs withdrew their motion for sanction. However, on March 17, 2015, Plaintiffs filed a motion for contempt sanctions on the grounds that the police department had still not implemented police reform policies and requested post-judgment discovery. On May 19, 2015, the court granted the plaintiffs' motion.

Xin Chen - 04/03/2011
Katherine Reineck - 01/30/2016


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Unreasonable search and seizure
Content of Injunction
Recordkeeping
Required disclosure
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
Law-enforcement
General
Excessive force
False arrest
Gay/lesbian/transgender
Over/Unlawful Detention
Search policies
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action State law
42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) City of Atlanta Police Department
Plaintiff Description Patrons of Atlanta Eagle, a gay bar in Atlanta, Georgia, who were unlawfully searched, detained, and/or arrested on September 10-11, 2009, by the Atlanta Police Department.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Lambda Legal
Southern Center for Human Rights
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Damages
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 2010 - n/a
Case Closing Year n/a
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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Case Studies Federal Enforcement of Police Reform
By: Stephen Rushin (University of Illinois College of Law, University of California, Berkeley - Jurisprudence and Social Policy Program )
Citation: 82 Fordham Law Review 3189 (2014)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  Panopticism for Police: Structural Reform Bargaining and Police Regulation by Data-Driven Surveillance
By: Mary D. Fan (University of Washington)
Citation: Forthcoming, 87 Washington L. Rev. __ (2012).
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  What Happens When Police Are Forced to Reform?
Written: Nov. 13, 2015
By: Kimbriell Kelly, Sarah Childress and Steven Rich (Frontline/Post)
Citation: Washington Post (Nov. 13, 2015)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Links Atlanta Eagle Raid
http://atlantaeagleraid.com/
By: Dan Grossman
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
1:09−cv−03286 (N.D. Ga.) 09/04/2015
PN-GA-0003-9000 PDF | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
First Amended Complaint 03/17/2010
PN-GA-0003-0001 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiffs' Motion to Compel Discovery and for Sanctions 10/06/2010
PN-GA-0003-0002 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Defendants' Motion in Opposition to Plaintiffs' Motion to Compel Discovery and for Sanctions 10/22/2010
PN-GA-0003-0003 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Approving the Settlement 12/08/2010 (N.D. Ga.)
PN-GA-0003-0004 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Exhibit A: Reforms of the Atlanta Police Department 12/08/2010
PN-GA-0003-0005 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Motion for Sanctions 06/16/2011
PN-GA-0003-0006 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Motion for Contempt 03/17/2015
PN-GA-0003-0007 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Batten, Timothy C. Sr. (N.D. Ga.)
PN-GA-0003-0004 | PN-GA-0003-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Burnett, Katharine Madison (Georgia)
PN-GA-0003-9000
Butler, Marla R. (New York)
PN-GA-0003-9000
Grossman, Daniel J. (Georgia)
PN-GA-0003-0001 | PN-GA-0003-0002 | PN-GA-0003-0006 | PN-GA-0003-0007 | PN-GA-0003-9000
Kung, Lisa L. (Georgia)
PN-GA-0003-9000
Lee, Graham Spencer (Georgia)
PN-GA-0003-0001 | PN-GA-0003-9000
Littrell, Elizabeth Lynn (Georgia)
PN-GA-0003-0001 | PN-GA-0003-0002 | PN-GA-0003-9000
Nevins, Gregory R. (Georgia)
PN-GA-0003-0001 | PN-GA-0003-0002 | PN-GA-0003-9000
Warring, Jane (Georgia)
PN-GA-0003-9000
Weber, Gerald R. (Georgia)
PN-GA-0003-0001 | PN-GA-0003-0002 | PN-GA-0003-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Baines, Tamara Nikki (Georgia)
PN-GA-0003-9000
DeLoach, Jerry L. (Georgia)
PN-GA-0003-0003
Godfrey, Robert N. (Georgia)
PN-GA-0003-0003 | PN-GA-0003-9000
Power, Stephen A. (Georgia)
PN-GA-0003-9000
Terry, LaShawn W. (Georgia)
PN-GA-0003-9000
Young, Dennis McRay (Georgia)
PN-GA-0003-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

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