University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name U.S. v. City of Pittsburgh PN-PA-0003
Docket / Court 2:97-cv-00354-RJC ( W.D. Pa. )
State/Territory Pennsylvania
Case Type(s) Policing
Case Summary
On February 26, 1997, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a complaint against the City of Pittsburgh ["City"], the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police ["PBP"], and the Department of Public Safety pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §14141 in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania to remedy an ... read more >
On February 26, 1997, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a complaint against the City of Pittsburgh ["City"], the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police ["PBP"], and the Department of Public Safety pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §14141 in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania to remedy an alleged pattern or practice of unconstitutional misconduct by officers of the PBP which included: using excessive force; making false arrests; lodging false charges; and conducting improper searches and seizures. This was the first lawsuit filed by the DOJ under 42 U.S.C. §14141. The filing followed nearly a year of DOJ investigation of the PBP, which was spurred on by the ACLU and NAACP's filing of the civil rights lawsuit Williams, et al. v. City of Pittsburgh, CA-96-560 (W.D.Pa., Cindrich, J.).

Simultaneously with the filing of the government's complaint, the parties filed a joint application for the entry of the consent decree. The consent decree included the implementation of changes in: the use of force; officer training; internal affairs investigations; officer detention and arrest of subjects; and collection and retention of department information and data.

On March 3, 1997, Allen Brunwasser filed a motion to intervene, which was denied by the District Court (Judge Robert J. Cindrich). The District Court, however, notified Brunwasser of the consent decree hearing, so as to give him an opportunity to be heard. Brunwasser's interest in the litigation is not clear from the record. The Fraternal Order of Police, Fort Pitt Lodge No. 1 [FOP] filed a similar motion to intervene, and Judge Cindrich allowed the FOP to participate in the hearings on the joint motion to enter the consent decree. After a final hearing on April 16, 1997, the District Court entered the consent decree. The FOP's motion to intervene was denied as moot.

In accordance with the consent decree, the parties selected James D. Ginger, Ph.D. to serve as auditor. The auditor was charged with oversight of the implementation of the provisions of the consent decree and with providing quarterly reports to the court. Throughout the duration of the consent decree, Dr. Ginger provided 29 quarterly reports to the court.

The original terms of the consent decree called for a five year monitoring period. The District Court extended that period to allow for full compliance by the PBP.

In September 2002, the parties filed a joint motion to modify the consent decree. The nature of the proposed modifications is not apparent from the docket. The ACLU and NAACP filed an amicus brief in opposition to the proposed modifications. After a hearing on the matter, the District Court approved the modifications.

Monitoring continued until 2005. On April 7, 2005, the District Court granted the parties joint motion to terminate the consent decree and the case was dismissed.

Dan Dalton - 01/06/2007

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Issues and Causes of Action
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Constitutional Clause
Unreasonable search and seizure
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) Pittsburgh Bureau of Police
Plaintiff Description United States Department of Justice
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 1997 - 2005
Case Closing Year 2005
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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Case Studies Implementing §14141 “Pattern or Practice” Reform: Evidence from Four Police Departments
Written: Oct. 01, 2009
By: Joshua M. Chanin (University of San Diego)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  Turning Necessity Into Virtue: Pittsburgh’s Experience with a Federal Consent Decree
By: Robert C. Davis, Christopher W. Ortiz, Nicole J. Henderson, Joel Miller, & Michelle K. Massie (Vera Institute of Justice )
Citation: Robert C. Davis et. al, Turning Necessity Into Virtue: Pittsburgh’s Experience with a Federal Consent Decree (2002).
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Links An Interactive Guide to the Civil Rights Division’s Police Reforms
Written: Jan. 04, 2017
By: U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division (U.S. Department of Justice)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  Federal Enforcement of Police Reform
By: Stephen Rushin (University of Illinois College of Law, University of California, Berkeley - Jurisprudence and Social Policy Program )
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  New York City to Pay Up to $75 Million Over Dismissed Summonses
New York Times
Written: Jan. 23, 2017
By: Benjamin Weiser (New York Times)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  Panopticism for Police: Structural Reform Bargaining and Police Regulation by Data-Driven Surveillance
By: Mary D. Fan (University of Washington)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  The Civil Rights Division’s Pattern and Practice Police Reform Work: 1994-Present
Written: Jan. 04, 2017
By: U.S. Department of Justice (U.S. Department of Justice)
[ 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)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

97 0354 (W.D. Pa.) 04/08/2005
PN-PA-0003-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
City of Pittsburgh Investigative Findings Letter
PN-PA-0003-0022.pdf | Detail
Complaint 02/26/1997
PN-PA-0003-0001.pdf | Detail
Consent Decree 02/26/1997 (W.D. Pa.)
PN-PA-0003-0002.pdf | Detail
Transcript of hearing commencing on Thursday, 4/16/97, U.S. District Court, Pittsburgh, PA, before Hon. Robert Cindrich, D.J. 04/16/1997
PN-PA-0003-0003.pdf | Detail
Auditor’s First Quarterly Report 12/15/1997
PN-PA-0003-0006.pdf | Detail
Auditor’s Third Quarterly Report 05/15/1998
PN-PA-0003-0007.pdf | Detail
Auditor’s Fourth Quarterly Report 08/16/1998
PN-PA-0003-0008.pdf | Detail
Auditor’s Fifth Quarterly Report 11/16/1998
PN-PA-0003-0009.pdf | Detail
Auditor’s Sixth Quarterly Report 02/16/1999
PN-PA-0003-0010.pdf | Detail
Auditor’s Seventh Quarterly Report 05/16/1999
PN-PA-0003-0011.pdf | Detail
Auditor’s Eighth Quarterly Report 08/16/1999
PN-PA-0003-0012.pdf | Detail
Groups Call on Justice Dept. to Maintain Court-Ordered Police Reforms in Pittsburgh 11/17/1999
PN-PA-0003-0004.pdf | External Link | Detail
Auditor’s Ninth Quarterly Report 01/01/2000
PN-PA-0003-0013.pdf | Detail
Auditor’s Tenth Quarterly Report 02/16/2000
PN-PA-0003-0014.pdf | Detail
Auditor’s Thirteenth Quarterly Report 11/16/2000
PN-PA-0003-0015.pdf | Detail
Auditor’s Fifteenth Quarterly Report 05/16/2001
PN-PA-0003-0016.pdf | Detail
Auditor’s Sixteenth Quarterly Report 08/16/2001
PN-PA-0003-0017.pdf | Detail
Auditor’s Seventeenth Quarterly Report 11/16/2001
PN-PA-0003-0018.pdf | Detail
Auditor’s Eighteenth Quarterly Report 02/16/2002
PN-PA-0003-0019.pdf | Detail
Auditor’s Ninteenth Quarterly Report 05/16/2002
PN-PA-0003-0020.pdf | Detail
Stipulated Order 09/30/2002
PN-PA-0003-0005.pdf | Detail
US DOJ Office of Community Policing Report: Federal Intervention in Local Policing: Pittsburgh's Experience with a Consent Decree 01/01/2003
PN-PA-0003-0021.pdf | Detail
Judges Cindrich, Robert J. (W.D. Pa.)
PN-PA-0003-0003 | PN-PA-0003-0005 | PN-PA-0003-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Bohan, Mary (District of Columbia)
PN-PA-0003-0005 | PN-PA-0003-9000
Boyd, Ralph F. Jr. (District of Columbia)
Cohen, Phyllis (Pennsylvania)
PN-PA-0003-0001 | PN-PA-0003-0002 | PN-PA-0003-9000
Hay, Amy R. (Pennsylvania)
PN-PA-0003-0001 | PN-PA-0003-0002 | PN-PA-0003-9000
Moosey, Robert S. Jr. (District of Columbia)
PN-PA-0003-0001 | PN-PA-0003-0002 | PN-PA-0003-0003 | PN-PA-0003-9000
Murphy, Donna M. (District of Columbia)
Nakata, Ken (District of Columbia)
PN-PA-0003-0001 | PN-PA-0003-0002 | PN-PA-0003-9000
Nardone, S. Nicole (District of Columbia)
Patrick, Deval L. (District of Columbia)
Pinzler, Isabelle Katz (District of Columbia)
PN-PA-0003-0001 | PN-PA-0003-0002 | PN-PA-0003-9000
Reno, Janet (District of Columbia)
Rosenbaum, Steven H. (District of Columbia)
PN-PA-0003-0001 | PN-PA-0003-0002 | PN-PA-0003-0003 | PN-PA-0003-0005 | PN-PA-0003-9000
Thieman, Frederick W. (Pennsylvania)
PN-PA-0003-0001 | PN-PA-0003-0002 | PN-PA-0003-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Diggs, Kadisha (Pennsylvania)
Malie, Susan (Pennsylvania)
PN-PA-0003-0003 | PN-PA-0003-0005
Morrow, Jacqueline R. (Arizona)
PN-PA-0003-0002 | PN-PA-0003-0003 | PN-PA-0003-0005 | PN-PA-0003-9000
Shorall, John G. II (Pennsylvania)
PN-PA-0003-0002 | PN-PA-0003-0003 | PN-PA-0003-9000
Other Lawyers Campbell, Bryan (Pennsylvania)
PN-PA-0003-0003 | PN-PA-0003-9000
O'Brien, Timothy P. (Pennsylvania)
Walczak, Witold J. (Pennsylvania)
PN-PA-0003-0003 | PN-PA-0003-9000

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