University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name United States v. Johnson PN-NC-0002
Docket / Court 1:12-cv-01349-TDS-JLW ( M.D. N.C. )
State/Territory North Carolina
Case Type(s) Policing
Attorney Organization U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division
Case Summary
On December 20, 2012, following a two-year investigation, the United States of America filed this lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina. The US sued the Sheriff of Alamance County, North Carolina. The US, represented by the Department of Justice, ... read more >
On December 20, 2012, following a two-year investigation, the United States of America filed this lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina. The US sued the Sheriff of Alamance County, North Carolina. The US, represented by the Department of Justice, brought the action under 42 U.S.C. § 14141 and asked the court for declaratory judgment that the Alamance County Sheriff's Office had engaged in conduct infringing rights protected by the United States Constitution. The United States additionally requested an order that the Sheriff's Office (1) cease its unlawful conduct, (2) implement remedial policies to prevent unlawful conduct, and (3) adopt systems to identify and correct unlawful conduct.

(Prior to this action and as part of its investigation, the United States filed a complaint against Alamance County and Sheriff Johnson, seeking a declaration that North Carolina Rule of Professional Conduct 4.2 does not prohibit the United States from conducting interviews with current and former Sheriff's Office personnel without Defendants' counsel present. While the case was pending, the United States continued and concluded its investigation and found that the Sheriff's Office intentionally and illegally discriminates against Latinos in Alamance County on the basis of their ethnicity. The Court [Judge Thomas D. Schroeder] dismissed the case with prejudice upon the United States' subsequent unopposed motion to dismiss.)

In its complaint, the United States alleged that Sheriff Johnson orders enforcement activities specifically targeting Latinos, that he and the Sheriff's Office make and tolerate racially-biased statements, and that the Sheriff's Office targets Latinos in traffic stops that are often done absent reasonable suspicion. The Sheriff's Office was further accused of arresting Latinos for traffic violations where others similarly situated receive citations or warnings; stopping Latinos at checkpoints, which disproportionately set up in Latino neighborhoods, while allowing others similarly situated to proceed; and, finally, notifying ICE investigators of Latino arrestees, though not of others similarly situated. The Sheriff's Office, in sum, was charged with having deficient policies, training, and oversight, resulting in discriminatory enforcement against Latinos. And such activities violated the Fourth Amendment bar on unreasonable seizures and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

On February 20, 2013, the Defendant moved for judgment on the pleadings, which the Court (Judge Schroeder) denied, finding res judicata as to the Rule 4.2 case did not apply and holding a single change in the Sheriff's Office's practices (brought about by the Department of Homeland Security's termination of Sheriff Johnson's authority to make referrals to ICE) did not make moot the United States' claims.

The bench trial for this case began on August 12, 2014 and concluded on August 22, 2014. On August 7, 2015, Judge Schroeder issued an opinion and order holding that the United States failed to meet its burden of proving that the Sherriff's Office had engaged in a "pattern or practice" of discriminatory law enforcement. Judge Schroeder noted specifically that the United States presented no evidence that any individual was unconstitutionally deprived of his or her rights under the Fourth or Fourteenth Amendments, and that the United States' case rested largely on vague, isolated statements and statistical analyses. As such, Judge Schroeder denied the United States' claims and entered judgment for the Sherriff's Office, dismissing this case with prejudice.

The United States' appeal is pending before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

David Postel - 02/04/2014
John He - 10/11/2015


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Equal Protection
Unreasonable search and seizure
Defendant-type
Law-enforcement
Discrimination-basis
Immigration status
National origin discrimination
Race discrimination
General
Disparate Impact
Disparate Treatment
Pattern or Practice
Racial profiling
National Origin/Ethnicity
Hispanic
Causes of Action Title VI, Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000d et seq.
Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
42 U.S.C. § 14141
Defendant(s) Terry S. Johnson
Plaintiff Description United States of America
Indexed Lawyer Organizations U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Defendant
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None
Source of Relief None
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration not on record
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 ]

Docket(s)
1:11−cv−00507 (M.D. N.C.) 09/18/2012
PN-NC-0002-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
1:12−cv−01349 (M.D. N.C.) 01/12/2016
PN-NC-0002-9002.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Justice Department Files Lawsuit Against the Alamance County, North Carolina, Sheriff’s Office 06/23/2011
PN-NC-0002-0015.pdf | Detail
Document Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Special Litigation Section
Amended Complaint (Rule 4.2 Case) 07/14/2011
PN-NC-0002-0001.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
United States' Investigation of the Alamance County Sheriff's Office 09/18/2012
PN-NC-0002-0002.pdf | Detail
Document Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Special Litigation Section
United States’ Memorandum in Support of Its Unopposed Motion to Dismiss the Amended Complaint as Moot (Rule 4.2 Case) 09/18/2012
PN-NC-0002-0005.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order (Dismissing Rule 4.2 Case) 09/18/2012 (M.D. N.C.)
PN-NC-0002-0006.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Justice Department Releases Investigative Findings on the Alamance County, N.C., Sheriff’s Office 09/18/2012
PN-NC-0002-0013.pdf | Detail
Document Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Special Litigation Section
Response Re: DOJ Investigation of the Alamance County Sheriff's Office 09/26/2012
PN-NC-0002-0003.pdf | Detail
Complaint 12/20/2012
PN-NC-0002-0007.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Justice Department Files Civil Rights Lawsuit Against the Alamance County, N.C., Sheriff’s Office 12/20/2012
PN-NC-0002-0014.pdf | Detail
Document Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Special Litigation Section
Memorandum Order (Denying Johnson's Motion for Judgment on Pleadings) 04/29/2013 (M.D. N.C.)
PN-NC-0002-0008.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order 11/14/2013 (M.D. N.C.)
PN-NC-0002-0011.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Rebuttal of Expert Reports Prepared by John Lamberth and John MacDonald in re United States v. Terry S. Johnson 04/07/2014
PN-NC-0002-0016.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion and Order 08/07/2015 (2015 WL 4715312) (M.D. N.C.)
PN-NC-0002-0012.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Settlement Agreement 08/17/2016
PN-NC-0002-0017.pdf | Detail
Document Source: U.S. DOJ, Civil Rights Division, Education Section
Judges Peake, Joi Elizabeth (State Trial Court, M.D. N.C.) [Magistrate]
PN-NC-0002-9000
Schroeder, Thomas D. (M.D. N.C.)
PN-NC-0002-0006 | PN-NC-0002-0008 | PN-NC-0002-0011 | PN-NC-0002-0012 | PN-NC-0002-9000 | PN-NC-0002-9002
Webster, Joe L. (M.D. N.C.) [Magistrate]
PN-NC-0002-9002
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Austin, Roy L. (District of Columbia)
PN-NC-0002-0001 | PN-NC-0002-0005 | PN-NC-0002-0007
Beck, Gill P. (North Carolina)
PN-NC-0002-0001 | PN-NC-0002-0005
Dominguez-Reese, Silvia J. (District of Columbia)
PN-NC-0002-9002
Fleisher, Aaron S (District of Columbia)
PN-NC-0002-9002
Gupta, Vanita (District of Columbia)
PN-NC-0002-0017
Gzifa, Anika (District of Columbia)
PN-NC-0002-9002
Mygatt, Timothy D (District of Columbia)
PN-NC-0002-0017 | PN-NC-0002-9002
Perez, Thomas E. (District of Columbia)
PN-NC-0002-0001 | PN-NC-0002-0002 | PN-NC-0002-0005 | PN-NC-0002-0007 | PN-NC-0002-0013 | PN-NC-0002-0014 | PN-NC-0002-0015
Rand, Ripley (North Carolina)
PN-NC-0002-0001 | PN-NC-0002-0005
Rosenbaum, Steven H. (District of Columbia)
PN-NC-0002-0017
Shapiro, Avner (District of Columbia)
PN-NC-0002-0001 | PN-NC-0002-0005 | PN-NC-0002-0007
Smith, Jonathan Mark (District of Columbia)
PN-NC-0002-0001 | PN-NC-0002-0005 | PN-NC-0002-0007
Songer, Michael J. (District of Columbia)
PN-NC-0002-0001 | PN-NC-0002-0005 | PN-NC-0002-0007 | PN-NC-0002-9002
Trepel, Samantha Kay (District of Columbia)
PN-NC-0002-0001 | PN-NC-0002-0005 | PN-NC-0002-0007 | PN-NC-0002-9000 | PN-NC-0002-9002
Volek, Jude (District of Columbia)
PN-NC-0002-9002
Defendant's Lawyers Albright, Clyde Ballinger (North Carolina)
PN-NC-0002-0002 | PN-NC-0002-9000
Kitchen, S. C. (North Carolina)
PN-NC-0002-0003 | PN-NC-0002-9000 | PN-NC-0002-9002
Pierce, Benjamin Charles (North Carolina)
PN-NC-0002-9000
Turrentine, Karlene S (North Carolina)
PN-NC-0002-9002
Other Lawyers Martin, C. Amanda (North Carolina)
PN-NC-0002-9002

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