On June 12, 2003, the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan against the City of Detroit. Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 14141, the DOJ alleged a pattern or practice of unconstitutional misconduct by officers of the Detroit Police Department (DPD), including the excessive use of force, false arrest, improper warrantless searches and failure to protect detainees. Contemporaneously with the filing of the DOJ's complaint, the parties filed a proposed consent decree and motion to appoint an independent monitor.
The filing followed a DOJ investigation of the DPD which revealed concerns about excessive force, holding cell conditions and arrest and detention policies and practices.
A day after the filing of the complaint, the City of Detroit filed a motion to stay entry of the consent judgment until its City Council could formally approve it. The Detroit City Council then filed a motion to intervene in the action on June 18, 2003. On July 1, 2003, the Coalition Against Police Brutality filed a motion to intervene as of right. U.S. District Judge Julian Abele Cook Jr. denied both intervention motions on July 14, 2003.
On July 18, 2003, Judge Cook granted the parties' motions to appoint a monitor and approve the consent judgment and motion to amend the consent judgment. Judge Cook entered two separate consent judgments: one relating to the "Use of Force and Arrest and Witness Detention" and the other relating to "Conditions of Confinement." On July 23, 2003, Judge Cook appointed Sheryl L. Robinson, with the assistance of Kroll, Inc., as the independent monitor.
On October 15, 2003, the Coalition Against Police Brutality filed a notice of appeal, but the appeal was subsequently dismissed for a reason that is not apparent.
On December 27, 2004, Judge Cook issued an order extending the duration of the "Conditions of Confinement" consent decree to July 18, 2007. The other consent decree relating to "Use of Force and Arrest and Witness Detention" was conditionally set to expire by its terms in July 2008. On October 26, 2007, however both consent decrees were extended by Judge Cook until July 18, 2011.
The independent monitor, Sheryl Robinson Wood, issued quarterly reports from the time of her appointment. Each report contains a "report card" as an appendix, summarizing the monitor's evaluation of DPD compliance with the various consent judgment provisions.
On July 24, 2009, Judge Cook accepted the resignation of the Monitor, on the basis of documents that demonstrated that "she had engaged in conduct which was totally inconsistent with the terms and conditions of the two Consent Judgments in this litigation." In particular, she had "engaged in undisclosed communications, as well as meetings of a personal nature," with the former Mayor, Kwame Kilpatrick.
Judge Cook suspended decree monitoring until selection of a new monitor, which occurred on October 5, 2009 when Judge Cook appointed Robert Warsaw to the position.
Throughout the course of this litigation, the parties amended their consent decrees several times so that the defendants could more easily comply with the terms. However, on April 19, 2010, Judge Cook issued an order requiring the Defendants to resolve all of its backlogged citizen complaints within a period of 90 days. The defendants asked for several extensions, and ultimately achieved compliance in March of 2011.
However, as of January 2012, there were over 400 backlogged complaints, which has reopened this facet of the litigation as this number was "totally unacceptable," according to Judge Cook. Judge Cook then issued an order on January 30, 2012, requiring the Defendants to fix the backlog of complaints. On April 23, 2012, the parties filed another Amended Consent Decree, amending various portions of the consent judgments related to the use of force and conditions of confinement.
On July 19, 2013, Judge Cook issued an order with respect to the consent judgments after becoming aware that the individual identified as responsible for the Conditions of Confinement Consent Judgment was no longer employed by the DPD. Judge Cook ordered the defendants to identify the head of the DPD's Civil Rights Integrity Bureau (CRIB), and required that the DPD notify the court and monitor before making any personnel changes within CRIB. Judge Cook also noted that with the appointment of Kevyn Orr as Emergency Manager for the City of Detroit, the line of authority might have been complicated. Thus, Judge Cook also required the City of Detroit provide an updated description of the line of authority to clarify accountability with respect to the enforcement of the consent judgements. The defendants filed their response to Judge Cook's order on July 26, 2013.
On July 29, 2013, Judge Cook issued an order extending the Conditions of Confinement Consent Judgment in light of the DPD's plan to transfer custody of its detainees to the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC). Once the monitor was satisfied with the decommissioning of the DPD's holding cells, Judge Cook would dismiss the Conditions of Confinement Consent Judgment. On December 11, 2013, the monitor submitted a report confirming compliance with the Conditions of Confinement Consent Judgment, and Judge Cook subsequently dismissed this consent judgment on January 27, 2014.
On December 19, 2013, Judge Cook issued a new order for "enhanced monitoring." Judge Cook acknowledged that substantial progress had been made with respect to enforcement of the consent judgments, as the City of Detroit was now in compliance with 93% of the consent judgment requirements. However, Judge Cook also noted that the City was still out of compliance with 12% of the Use of Force Consent Judgment requirements. As such, Judge Cook directed the monitor to increase the frequency of visits to the City in order to expedite enforcement of the Use of Force Consent Judgment.
On December 22, 2013, the defendants moved to suspend monitoring of provisions of the Use of Force and Arrest and Witness Detention Consent Judgment which have been in compliance for two or more years. However, on June 16, 2014, Judge Cook denied the motion, finding that there were no changes in circumstances which warranted a revision of the consent judgment.
On May 14, 2014, due to his impending transition to inactive status, Judge Cook ordered that this case be reassigned to another judge in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. The case was eventually assigned to U.S. District Judge Avery Cohn on June 16, 2014.
On August 8, 2014, the parties jointly moved to terminate the remaining consent judgment, arguing that the intent of the consent judgment had been substantially satisfied. The parties noted that the independent monitor found 90% overall compliance, and any remaining compliance could be achieved through a transition agreement under which the DOJ could maintain oversight of the DPD's ongoing reform efforts without the direct oversight of an independent monitor. On August 25, 2014, Judge Cohn granted the motion terminating the consent judgment, and entered the transition agreement as an order terminating on March 2, 2016. Judge Cohn also provided final comments with respect to the order, suggesting that control of the DPD be transferred away from the Emergency Manager and back to the mayor of Detroit. Judge Cohn also suggested that the Board of Police Commissioners continue as a civilian review body dealing with complaints.
This case is effectively closed.Joshua Arocho - 07/02/2012
John He - 02/21/2016