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Case Name U.S. v. City of Columbus, Ohio PN-OH-0001
Docket / Court 2:99-cv-01097 ( S.D. Ohio )
State/Territory Ohio
Case Type(s) Policing
Attorney Organization U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division
Case Summary
In 1998, the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice (DOJ) conducted an investigation of the Columbus Division of Police (CDP). As a result of the investigation, the DOJ determined that CDP officers were engaged in a pattern or practice of using excessive force, making false arrests and ... read more >
In 1998, the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice (DOJ) conducted an investigation of the Columbus Division of Police (CDP). As a result of the investigation, the DOJ determined that CDP officers were engaged in a pattern or practice of using excessive force, making false arrests and lodging false charges, and conducting improper searches and seizures in violation of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments. On October 21, 1999, the DOJ filed a complaint against the City of Columbus, Ohio pursuant to the Law Enforcement Misconduct Statute, 42 U.S.C. § 14111, in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio to remedy an alleged pattern or practice of unconstitutional misconduct by officers of the CDP. The case was assigned to Judge John D. Holschuh and Magistrate Judge Norah M. King.

Contemporaneously with the filing of the DOJ's complaint, the DOJ filed a motion to stay the proceedings so that the parties could explore settlement. Judge King entered a stay, which expired on December 20, 1999, without the parties reaching a settlement.

On October 25, 1999, the Fraternal Order of Police, Capital City Lodge No. 9 ("FOP") filed a motion to intervene as a defendant in the action. Judge King granted the FOP's motion to intervene on February 7, 2000.

The City then moved to dismiss the case, and the FOP moved for a judgment on the pleadings. In those motions, the defendants noted that no court had yet interpreted or applied the language of 42 U.S.C. § 14141. The defendants maintained that §14141 was an unconstitutional enactment, outside Congress' authority pursuant to § 5 of the 14th Amendment and in violation of the Tenth Amendment. The defendants further argued that § 14141 must be construed to incorporate the 42 U.S.C. § 1983 cases for determining municipal liability. The defendants argued that the DOJ's complaint was therefore deficient because it failed to plead facts that the City caused, or was deliberately indifferent to, the pattern or practice of CDP officer misconduct as alleged in the complaint.

The DOJ filed a brief responding to the constitutional challenge to 42 U.S.C. § 14141. The DOJ also argued that the language of § 14141 imposed vicarious liability on the City for the acts of its officers. The DOJ argued that the § 1983 standards of municipal liability were not applicable to § 14141 cases, and therefore the complaint properly stated a cause of action.

On April 26, 2000, Judge Holschuh referred the dispositive motions to Magistrate Judge Norah M. King for a report and recommendation. She issued her report in August, finding that 42 U.S.C. § 14141 was constitutional. She construed § 14141 to require the same level of proof as is required against municipal entities in actions under § 1983, as set forth in Monell v. Department of Social Services of the City of New York, 436 U.S. 658, 691 (1978) and its progeny.

In response to the Judge King’s report, U.S. Representatives John Conyers, Jr., the ranking minority member of the House Judiciary Committee, and other representatives moved for leave to participate as amici curiae. Representative Conyers was an original cosponsor of the Police Accountability Act - legislation that contained the language that ultimately was embodied in 42 U.S.C. § 14141. As grounds for their participation, the representatives stated that their interest was to correct the Judge King’s interpretation of § 14141 as imposing § 1983's "policy or custom" test for determining municipal liability that they believed was a misapplication of the statute.

The Grand Lodge of FOP, the national police officer labor organization, also filed an amicus motion, taking positions supportive of those taken by the City and the local FOP.

On November 20, 2000, Judge Holschuh granted the motions for leave to participate as amici curiae, and amicus briefs were then filed. After an extended round of additional briefing, there was a lengthy period of case inactivity while settlement negotiations continued.

On September 4, 2002, Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman submitted a settlement proposal to the DOJ that outlined various reforms the CPD agreed to make in exchange for the dismissal of the DOJ's complaint without prejudice.

In the settlement proposal, Mayor Coleman listed their ongoing efforts to remedy the alleged issues through:
- The expansion of the staffing and scope of responsibility of the Internal Affairs Bureau implemented in July 2001. This included specialized training and community outreach programs to publicize and explain the new citizen complaint process;
- The expansion of the definition of actions that constitute a use of force, enhanced reporting of all uses of force and adoption of a use of force continuum;
- Heightened commitment to prevent racial profiling including specialized training as well as an implementation of regular, periodic reviews;
- Passing of Ordinance 1475-01 by Columbus City Council on September 24, 2001, to specifically include racial profiling as a criminal offense;
- Installation of video and audio recorders in police cruisers; and
- Agreement to provide copies of relevant Division of Police documents to the Department of Justice through the end of 2003.


The DOJ found the efforts satisfactory and agreed to end the litigation. On September 4, 2002, Judge Holschuh granted the DOJ's motion to dismiss the case without prejudice.

The case is now closed.

Dan Dalton - 01/04/2007
Jake Parker - 07/12/2018
Averyn Lee - 03/10/2019


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Unreasonable search and seizure
Content of Injunction
Develop anti-discrimination policy
Discrimination Prohibition
Hire
Reporting
Training
Discrimination-basis
Race discrimination
General
Excessive force
Failure to discipline
Failure to supervise
Failure to train
False arrest
Inadequate citizen complaint investigations and procedures
Racial profiling
Plaintiff Type
U.S. Dept of Justice plaintiff
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 14141
Defendant(s) Columbus Division of Police
Plaintiff Description United States Department of Justice
Indexed Lawyer Organizations U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Private Settlement Agreement
Voluntary Dismissal
Filing Year 1999
Case Closing Year 2002
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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  Data examining the Department of Justice's civil rights investigations of local and state police departments
Marshall Project
Date: Jan. 17, 2017
By: Tom Meagher (Marshall Project)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  The Civil Rights Division’s Pattern and Practice Police Reform Work: 1994-Present
https://www.justice.gov/
Date: Jan. 4, 2017
By: U.S. Department of Justice
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  An Interactive Guide to the Civil Rights Division’s Police Reforms
https://www.justice.gov/
Date: Jan. 4, 2017
By: U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division (U.S. Department of Justice)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

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

  Federal Enforcement of Police Reform
Date: 2014
By: Stephen Rushin (University of Illinois College of Law, University of California, Berkeley - Jurisprudence and Social Policy Program Faculty)
Citation: 82 Fordham Law Review 3189 (2014)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  RESOLUTION PATTERN OR PRACTICE LITIGATION COLUMBUS POLICE
https://perma.cc/T38F-58BE
Date: Sep. 4, 2002
By: The United States Department of Justice
[ Detail ]

Docket(s)
C2-99-1097 (S.D. Ohio)
PN-OH-0001-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/04/2002
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Findings letter
PN-OH-0001-0038.pdf | Detail
Date:
Complaint
PN-OH-0001-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/21/1999
Defendant City's Motion to Dismiss and Memorandum in Support
PN-OH-0001-0007.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/09/2000
Motion for Judgment on Pleadings by FOP, Capital City Lodge No. 9 and Memorandum in Support
PN-OH-0001-0008.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/18/2000
Reply of the Fraternal Order of Police, Capital City Lodge No. 9, to the US's Memorandum in Opposition to the City of Columbus' Motion to Dismiss and the Fraternal Order of Police's Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings
PN-OH-0001-0009.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/14/2000
Defendant City's Reply Memorandum in Support of the Motion to Dismiss
PN-OH-0001-0010.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/17/2000
Reply Memorandum of the Fraternal Order of Police, to the United States' Supplemental Memorandum in Opposition to FOP's Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings
PN-OH-0001-0012.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/23/2000
Amended Complaint
PN-OH-0001-0041.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/28/2000
Report and Recommendation (S.D. Ohio)
PN-OH-0001-0014.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/03/2000
Report and Recommendation (2000 WL 1133166 / 2000 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 11327) (S.D. Ohio)
PN-OH-0001-0046.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 08/03/2000
Defendant City's Objections to the Report and Recommendation of the Magistrate Judge
PN-OH-0001-0015.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/14/2000
United States' Objections to the Magistrate's Report and Recommendation Regarding Defendants' Dispositive Motions
PN-OH-0001-0039.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/21/2000
US's Response to the City of Columbus' Objections to the Report and Recommendation of the Magistrate Judge
PN-OH-0001-0016.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/25/2000
The US' Memorandum in Opposition to the City of Columbus' Motion to Dismiss and the FOP's Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings
PN-OH-0001-0040.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/29/2000
Motion for Leave to Participate as Amici Curiae
PN-OH-0001-0019.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/01/2000
Brief of Amici Curiae in Support of United States' Objections to the Magistrate Judge's Report
PN-OH-0001-0021.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/05/2000
Defendant City's Memorandum contra to the motion for leave to participate as amici curiae
PN-OH-0001-0024.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/15/2000
Opinon and Order (2000 WL 1745293) (S.D. Ohio)
PN-OH-0001-0028.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 11/20/2000
Defendant City's Response to the Brief of Amici Curiae Members of Congress
PN-OH-0001-0029.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/05/2000
Reply of Defendant FOP, Capital City Lodge 9, to US' Response to the memorandum of amicus curiae Grand Lodge of the FOP
PN-OH-0001-0030.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/11/2000
Reply Brief of amici curiae members of congress in support of US' objections to the magistrate judge's report
PN-OH-0001-0031.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/11/2000
Defendant City's Memo Regarding Supplemental Authority
PN-OH-0001-0032.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/06/2001
Reply in Support of Motion for Leave to Participate as Amici Curiae
PN-OH-0001-0037.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/04/2001
[Correspondence proposing resolution of litigation]
PN-OH-0001-0049.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/01/2002
Resolution Pattern or Practice Litigation Columbus Police
PN-OH-0001-0044.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/04/2002
Justice Department Reaches Agreement to Resolve Police Misconduct Case Against Columbus Police Department
PN-OH-0001-0047.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 09/04/2002
Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Special Litigation Section
[Correspondence re: proposal to resolve the litigation]
PN-OH-0001-0048.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/04/2002
show all people docs
Judges Holschuh, John David (S.D. Ohio) show/hide docs
PN-OH-0001-0004 | PN-OH-0001-0007 | PN-OH-0001-0008 | PN-OH-0001-0009 | PN-OH-0001-0012 | PN-OH-0001-0015 | PN-OH-0001-0016 | PN-OH-0001-0019 | PN-OH-0001-0021 | PN-OH-0001-0028 | PN-OH-0001-0029 | PN-OH-0001-0030 | PN-OH-0001-0031 | PN-OH-0001-0032 | PN-OH-0001-0037 | PN-OH-0001-0039 | PN-OH-0001-0040 | PN-OH-0001-0041 | PN-OH-0001-9000
King, Norah McCann (S.D. Ohio) show/hide docs
PN-OH-0001-0004 | PN-OH-0001-0007 | PN-OH-0001-0008 | PN-OH-0001-0009 | PN-OH-0001-0012 | PN-OH-0001-0014 | PN-OH-0001-0015 | PN-OH-0001-0016 | PN-OH-0001-0019 | PN-OH-0001-0021 | PN-OH-0001-0029 | PN-OH-0001-0030 | PN-OH-0001-0031 | PN-OH-0001-0032 | PN-OH-0001-0037 | PN-OH-0001-0039 | PN-OH-0001-0040 | PN-OH-0001-0041 | PN-OH-0001-0046 | PN-OH-0001-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Bennington, Jeffrey (Ohio) show/hide docs
PN-OH-0001-0029 | PN-OH-0001-0032
Boyd, Ralph F. Jr. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PN-OH-0001-0044 | PN-OH-0001-0048
Eichner, James (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PN-OH-0001-0016 | PN-OH-0001-0029 | PN-OH-0001-0039 | PN-OH-0001-0041 | PN-OH-0001-9000
Lee, Bill Lann (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PN-OH-0001-0004 | PN-OH-0001-0016 | PN-OH-0001-0029 | PN-OH-0001-0038 | PN-OH-0001-0039 | PN-OH-0001-0040 | PN-OH-0001-0041
Masling, Mark S. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PN-OH-0001-0010 | PN-OH-0001-0015 | PN-OH-0001-0016 | PN-OH-0001-0019 | PN-OH-0001-0039 | PN-OH-0001-0040 | PN-OH-0001-0041 | PN-OH-0001-0046
Murphy, Donna M. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PN-OH-0001-0016 | PN-OH-0001-0039 | PN-OH-0001-0040 | PN-OH-0001-0041
Peeples, Andrea C. (Ohio) show/hide docs
PN-OH-0001-0015 | PN-OH-0001-0024 | PN-OH-0001-0029 | PN-OH-0001-0032 | PN-OH-0001-0046 | PN-OH-0001-9000
Posner, Mark A. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PN-OH-0001-0004 | PN-OH-0001-0016 | PN-OH-0001-0039 | PN-OH-0001-0040 | PN-OH-0001-0041 | PN-OH-0001-0046 | PN-OH-0001-9000
Reno, Janet (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PN-OH-0001-0004 | PN-OH-0001-0041
Rosenbaum, Steven H. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PN-OH-0001-0004 | PN-OH-0001-0016 | PN-OH-0001-0039 | PN-OH-0001-0040 | PN-OH-0001-0041
Sanders, Deborah (Ohio) show/hide docs
PN-OH-0001-0016 | PN-OH-0001-0039 | PN-OH-0001-0040 | PN-OH-0001-0046 | PN-OH-0001-9000
Trainor, Cathleen (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PN-OH-0001-0016 | PN-OH-0001-0039 | PN-OH-0001-0041
Zealey, Sharon J. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PN-OH-0001-0004 | PN-OH-0001-0016 | PN-OH-0001-0039 | PN-OH-0001-0040 | PN-OH-0001-0041
Defendant's Lawyers Cox, Joshua T. (Ohio) show/hide docs
PN-OH-0001-0010 | PN-OH-0001-0015 | PN-OH-0001-0024 | PN-OH-0001-0029 | PN-OH-0001-0032 | PN-OH-0001-0046 | PN-OH-0001-9000
Henderson, C. David (New Mexico) show/hide docs
PN-OH-0001-0029 | PN-OH-0001-9000 | PN-OH-0001-9000
Jackson, Janet E. (Ohio) show/hide docs
PN-OH-0001-0007 | PN-OH-0001-0010 | PN-OH-0001-0029 | PN-OH-0001-0029 | PN-OH-0001-0038
Kulewicz, John J. (Ohio) show/hide docs
PN-OH-0001-0009 | PN-OH-0001-0012 | PN-OH-0001-0016 | PN-OH-0001-0030
Mangan, Timothy J. (Ohio) show/hide docs
PN-OH-0001-0007 | PN-OH-0001-0015 | PN-OH-0001-0016 | PN-OH-0001-0019 | PN-OH-0001-0024 | PN-OH-0001-0032 | PN-OH-0001-0046 | PN-OH-0001-9000
Phillips, James Edgar (Ohio) show/hide docs
PN-OH-0001-0008 | PN-OH-0001-0009 | PN-OH-0001-0010 | PN-OH-0001-0012 | PN-OH-0001-0015 | PN-OH-0001-0016 | PN-OH-0001-0019 | PN-OH-0001-0024 | PN-OH-0001-0029 | PN-OH-0001-0030 | PN-OH-0001-0044 | PN-OH-0001-9000
Redick, Glenn B. (Ohio) show/hide docs
PN-OH-0001-0007
Rogers, Douglas L. (Ohio) show/hide docs
PN-OH-0001-0009 | PN-OH-0001-0012 | PN-OH-0001-0016 | PN-OH-0001-0030
Other Lawyers Bagenstos, Samuel R. (Massachusetts) show/hide docs
PN-OH-0001-0019 | PN-OH-0001-0021 | PN-OH-0001-0024 | PN-OH-0001-0029 | PN-OH-0001-0031 | PN-OH-0001-0037 | PN-OH-0001-9000
Schlanger, Margo (Massachusetts) show/hide docs
PN-OH-0001-0019 | PN-OH-0001-0021 | PN-OH-0001-0024 | PN-OH-0001-0031 | PN-OH-0001-0037 | PN-OH-0001-9000

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