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
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 Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 1997 - 2005
Filing Year 1997
Case Closing Year 2005
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
Date: Jan. 4, 2017
By: U.S. Department of Justice
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  An Interactive Guide to the Civil Rights Division’s Police Reforms
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 ]

  Implementing §14141 “Pattern or Practice” Reform: Evidence from Four Police Departments
Date: Oct. 1, 2009
By: Joshua M. Chanin (University of San Diego Faculty)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  Turning Necessity Into Virtue: Pittsburgh’s Experience with a Federal Consent Decree
Date: September 2002
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 ]

97 0354 (W.D. Pa.)
PN-PA-0003-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/08/2005
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
City of Pittsburgh Investigative Findings Letter
PN-PA-0003-0022.pdf | External Link | Detail
PN-PA-0003-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/26/1997
Consent Decree (W.D. Pa.)
PN-PA-0003-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/26/1997
Transcript of hearing commencing on Thursday, 4/16/97, U.S. District Court, Pittsburgh, PA, before Hon. Robert Cindrich, D.J.
PN-PA-0003-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/16/1997
Auditor’s First Quarterly Report
PN-PA-0003-0006.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/15/1997
Auditor’s Third Quarterly Report
PN-PA-0003-0007.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/15/1998
Auditor’s Fourth Quarterly Report
PN-PA-0003-0008.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/16/1998
Auditor’s Fifth Quarterly Report
PN-PA-0003-0009.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/16/1998
Auditor’s Sixth Quarterly Report
PN-PA-0003-0010.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/16/1999
Auditor’s Seventh Quarterly Report
PN-PA-0003-0011.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/16/1999
Auditor’s Eighth Quarterly Report
PN-PA-0003-0012.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/16/1999
Groups Call on Justice Dept. to Maintain Court-Ordered Police Reforms in Pittsburgh
PN-PA-0003-0004.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 11/17/1999
Auditor’s Ninth Quarterly Report
PN-PA-0003-0013.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/01/2000
Auditor’s Tenth Quarterly Report
PN-PA-0003-0014.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/16/2000
Auditor’s Thirteenth Quarterly Report
PN-PA-0003-0015.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/16/2000
Auditor’s Fifteenth Quarterly Report
PN-PA-0003-0016.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/16/2001
Auditor’s Sixteenth Quarterly Report
PN-PA-0003-0017.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/16/2001
Auditor’s Seventeenth Quarterly Report
PN-PA-0003-0018.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/16/2001
Auditor’s Eighteenth Quarterly Report
PN-PA-0003-0019.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/16/2002
Auditor’s Ninteenth Quarterly Report
PN-PA-0003-0020.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/16/2002
Stipulated Order
PN-PA-0003-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/30/2002
US DOJ Office of Community Policing Report: Federal Intervention in Local Policing: Pittsburgh's Experience with a Consent Decree
PN-PA-0003-0021.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/01/2003
Judges Cindrich, Robert J. (W.D. Pa.)
PN-PA-0003-0003 | PN-PA-0003-0005 | PN-PA-0003-9000
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. (Pennsylvania)
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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