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Case Name Calhoun v. Pennington PN-GA-0003
Docket / Court 1:09-cv-03286 ( N.D. Ga. )
State/Territory Georgia
Case Type(s) Policing
Attorney Organization Lambda Legal
Southern Center for Human Rights
Case Summary
On November 24, 2009, patrons of Atlanta Eagle, a gay bar in Atlanta, Georgia, filed this lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the city of Atlanta, the chief of police and officers of the Atlanta Police Department in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta Division. ... read more >
On November 24, 2009, patrons of Atlanta Eagle, a gay bar in Atlanta, Georgia, filed this lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the city of Atlanta, the chief of police and officers of the Atlanta Police Department in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta Division. The plaintiffs, represented by private lawyer Dan Grossman, and public interest lawyers from Lambda Legal Defense and the Southern Center for Human Rights, asked the Court for damages and declaratory and injunctive relief to redress defendants' violations of plaintiffs' rights under the U.S. Constitution and Georgia Constitution to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. Specifically, plaintiffs claimed that the police action was taken without any particularized reasonable suspicion or probable cause to believe that any individual, was involved in any criminal activity. The plaintiffs also sought redress for the numerous state law torts committed by individual defendants, including false imprisonment, assault, battery, and trespass.

According to the complaint, on September 10-11, 2009, a paramilitary, SWAT-type force of Atlanta police officers entered the Atlanta Eagle without a warrant, claiming to be searching for public sex, drugs, and illegal weapons. The police forced dozens of bar patrons to lie face-down on the floor, which was covered with spilled beer, dirt, and broken glass. Officers allegedly made threats of violence and anti-gay slurs. Plaintiffs claim that although they were not suspected of any criminal activity, police officers emptied their pockets, confiscated their IDs, and entered every patron's name into a police computer. After the raid, not a single patron was charged with any crime, and no weapons, drugs, or evidence of sex was found.

In December 2010, the parties reached a settlement that requires the Atlanta Police Department to rewrite their policies regarding arrest, search and seizure, and to make other changes to protect the public from police misconduct. The settlement required, among other provisions:
  • Changes in search and seizure policy to accord with a set of legal principles spelled out in the settlement, covering the requirements for arrests, stops, and searches.
  • All Atlanta police officers in uniform must wear a conspicuously visible nametag, and any Atlanta police officer who is in uniform or has displayed a badge or other indicia of police authority must identify himself by name and badge number upon request at some point before the end of an encounter with a civilian.
  • Atlanta police officers may not interfere in any way with a citizen's right to record police activity
  • Payment of $1,025,000 by the City of Atlanta.

Judge Timothy C. Batten, Sr. issued an Order to approve the settlement agreement on December 8, 2010. The Court (Judge Batten) retained jurisdiction to enforce the City of Atlanta's agreement to the entry of a Consent Order containing the terms of the settlement if it failed to implement the actions set forth in the settlement agreement within 180 days of the entry of the Order.

On June 16, 2011, Plaintiff filed a motion for sanctions on the grounds that the Atlanta Police Department had not implemented the police reform policies outlined in the settlement agreement. The police department agreed to implement the policies if Plaintiffs withdrew their motion for sanction.

After three years of inactivity, on March 17, 2015 the plaintiffs filed a motion for contempt sanctions on the grounds that the police department had still not implemented police reform policies and requested post-judgment discovery. On May 19, 2015, the court granted the plaintiffs' motion.

In response to a joint motion by the parties, the court ordered the appointment of a special master on June 22, 2016 to monitor the Atlanta Police Department's compliance with court orders and assist the parties in addressing any obstacles with compliance or relevant discovery. On September 23, 2016, the court granted the parties' Consent Order Setting Forth Initial Special Master Monitoring, Discovery, and Dispute Resolution Procedures. The consent order laid out detailed procedures for ensuring compliance with and a feedback mechanism for the creation of a civil rights training program. The consent order also provided a detailed monitoring scheme. Further, all post-judgment discovery requests were stayed without prejudice.

The case remains open pending further status reports from the special master.

Xin Chen - 04/03/2011
Katherine Reineck - 01/30/2016
Virginia Weeks - 11/06/2016


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Unreasonable search and seizure
Content of Injunction
Recordkeeping
Required disclosure
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
Law-enforcement
General
Excessive force
False arrest
Gay/lesbian/transgender
Over/Unlawful Detention
Search policies
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
State law
Defendant(s) City of Atlanta Police Department
Plaintiff Description Patrons of Atlanta Eagle, a gay bar in Atlanta, Georgia, who were unlawfully searched, detained, and/or arrested on September 10-11, 2009, by the Atlanta Police Department.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Lambda Legal
Southern Center for Human Rights
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Damages
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 2010 - n/a
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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Links Atlanta Eagle Raid
http://atlantaeagleraid.com/
By: Dan Grossman
[ 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 ]

Docket(s)
1:09−cv−03286 (N.D. Ga.)
PN-GA-0003-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/29/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
First Amended Complaint [ECF# 44]
PN-GA-0003-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/17/2010
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiffs' Motion to Compel Discovery and for Sanctions [ECF# 236]
PN-GA-0003-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/06/2010
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Defendants' Motion in Opposition to Plaintiffs' Motion to Compel Discovery and for Sanctions [ECF# 251]
PN-GA-0003-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/22/2010
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Approving the Settlement [ECF# 265] (N.D. Ga.)
PN-GA-0003-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/08/2010
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Exhibit A: Reforms of the Atlanta Police Department [ECF# 265-1]
PN-GA-0003-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/08/2010
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Motion for Sanctions [ECF# 271]
PN-GA-0003-0006.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/16/2011
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Motion for Contempt [ECF# 281]
PN-GA-0003-0007.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/17/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Consent Order Setting Forth Initial Special Master Monitoring, Discovery, and Dispute Resolution Procedures [ECF# 323] (N.D. Ga.)
PN-GA-0003-0008.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/23/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Batten, Timothy C. Sr. Court not on record
PN-GA-0003-0004 | PN-GA-0003-0008 | PN-GA-0003-9000
Monitors/Masters Whitley, Joe D. (Georgia)
PN-GA-0003-0008
Plaintiff's Lawyers Burnett, Katharine Madison (Georgia)
PN-GA-0003-9000
Butler, Marla R. (New York)
PN-GA-0003-9000
Grossman, Daniel J. (Georgia)
PN-GA-0003-0001 | PN-GA-0003-0002 | PN-GA-0003-0006 | PN-GA-0003-0007 | PN-GA-0003-0008 | PN-GA-0003-9000
Kung, Lisa L. (Georgia)
PN-GA-0003-9000
Lee, Graham Spencer (Georgia)
PN-GA-0003-0001 | PN-GA-0003-9000
Littrell, Elizabeth Lynn (Georgia)
PN-GA-0003-0001 | PN-GA-0003-0002 | PN-GA-0003-0008 | PN-GA-0003-9000
Nevins, Gregory R. (Georgia)
PN-GA-0003-0001 | PN-GA-0003-0002 | PN-GA-0003-0008 | PN-GA-0003-9000
Warring, Jane (Georgia)
PN-GA-0003-9000
Weber, Gerald R. (Georgia)
PN-GA-0003-0001 | PN-GA-0003-0002 | PN-GA-0003-0008 | PN-GA-0003-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Baines, Tamara Nikki (Georgia)
PN-GA-0003-9000
DeLoach, Jerry L. (Georgia)
PN-GA-0003-0003
Godfrey, Robert N. (Georgia)
PN-GA-0003-0003 | PN-GA-0003-9000
Power, Stephen A. (Georgia)
PN-GA-0003-9000
Rashad, Maiysha (Georgia)
PN-GA-0003-0008 | PN-GA-0003-9000
Shahar, Robin Joy (Georgia)
PN-GA-0003-0008 | PN-GA-0003-9000
Terry, LaShawn W. (Georgia)
PN-GA-0003-9000
Valladares, Richard J. (Georgia)
PN-GA-0003-9000
Wyatt-Bullman, Alisha Irene (Georgia)
PN-GA-0003-0008 | PN-GA-0003-9000
Young, Dennis McRay (Georgia)
PN-GA-0003-9000

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