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Case Name United States v. City of Portland PN-OR-0001
Docket / Court 3:12-cv-02265-SI ( D. Or. )
State/Territory Oregon
Case Type(s) Policing
Attorney Organization U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division
Case Summary
On December 17, 2012, the United States of America filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon under the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, 42 U.S.C. § 14141, against the City of Portland ("the City") based on the conduct of the Portland Police Bureau ( ... read more >
On December 17, 2012, the United States of America filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon under the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, 42 U.S.C. § 14141, against the City of Portland ("the City") based on the conduct of the Portland Police Bureau ("PPB"). The United States, represented by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Oregon and the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice ("DOJ"), sought injunctive and declaratory relief. The complaint alleged that officers of the PPB engaged in a practice of unconstitutional use of force against individuals with actual or perceived mental illness. Specifically, the United States claimed that: (1) police encounters with such individuals too frequently resulted in a higher level force than necessary; (2) PPB officers employed tasers more times than necessary on such individuals, or in circumstances where such force was not justified; and (3) PPB officers used a higher degree of force than justified for low level offenses. The United States alleged that this conduct amounted to a pattern or practice by law enforcement officers that deprived individuals of their rights, privileges or immunities secured by the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution. The plaintiff brought the claim under 42 U.S.C. § 14141. The United States also argued that these violations resulted from the City's failure to provide adequate policies, training and supervision.

This lawsuit was the culmination of an 18 month-long investigation of the PPB by the DOJ pursuant to Section 14141. That investigation, which began in June of 2011, was prompted by the high number of PPB officer-involved shootings that involved individuals with mental illness. On September 13, 2012, DOJ issued a Findings Letter stating that it found reasonable cause to believe the PPB was engaging in unconstitutional conduct, and that it had identified serious deficiencies in policies, training, and officer accountability measures that substantially contributed to this conduct. That same day, the DOJ and the City released a joint statement declaring the parties' mutual intent to reach a negotiated settlement agreement to resolve these issues.

On December 17, 2012--the same date the complaint was filed--the parties filed a joint motion to enter a settlement agreement and conditionally dismiss the action pursuant to Rule 41(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, subject to the court retaining jurisdiction to enforce the agreement. The proposed settlement agreement included detailed provisions addressing PPB policies and practices regarding: (1) use of force; (2) dealing with persons perceived as or actually suffering from mental illness or mental health crises; (3) dealing with persons suffering from addictions and behavioral health challenges; (4) crisis intervention; (5) identifying at-risk employees; (6) officer accountability; (7) training; (8) supervision; (9) misconduct complaint intake, investigation, and adjudication; (10) transparency and oversight; and (11) community engagement. Proposed Settlement Agreement. The proposed settlement agreement also included provisions regarding the implementation and enforcement of its terms. Id.

On December 18, 2012, the Portland Police Association ("PPA"), a labor union representing employees of the Portland Police Bureau, filed a motion to intervene. On January 8, 2013, a coalition of organizations seeking reform of Portland police practices also moved to intervene. Both these parties wished to participate in any negotiations of the proposed settlement agreement. On February 19, 2013, the District Court (Judge Michael H. Simon) granted in part and deferred in part PPA's motion. Op. and Order 3, Feb. 19, 2013. 2013 WL 12309780. The court also denied in part and deferred in part the coalition's motion, but granted them "enhanced amicus status for remedy purposes." Id. Ultimately, both parties were allowed to participate in the settlement negotiations.

All parties reached a tentative agreement regarding the terms of the proposed settlement in December 2013. The settlement agreement provided for revisions to use of force policies and compliance audits related to use of force; training; community-based mental health services; crisis intervention; an employee information system; officer accountability; and community engagement, including creation of a Community Oversight Advisory Board (COAB).

On August 29, 2014, the District Court issued an order entering the settlement agreement and conditionally dismissing the litigation. Order Entering Settlement Agreement. The Court retained jurisdiction, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1345, to enforce any provision of the Settlement Agreement or the two agreements that resulted from the parties' settlement negotiations. The Court further ordered the City to direct the Compliance Officer/Community Liaison, a position created under the Settlement Agreement, to provide copies to the Court of all final quarterly reports which are referenced in the Settlement Agreement. Finally, the Court directed the parties to attend annual settlement-compliance hearings.

After the district court's entry of the settlement agreement, the parties had protracted disagreements and negotiations regarding the scope of involvement by the court and the public. On October 27, 2014, the City appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The City appealed based on the court's order, as a condition of its dismissal, that the parties, intervener-defendant, and amicus curiae appear at
hearings whenever called by the court and to produce evidence as requested by the court. The City's position was that the district court could accept one of the settlement processes approved by the parties, which included annual status conferences, but could not order post-dismissal evidentiary hearings unless the U.S. alleged a material breach of the settlement agreement. The issues on appeal were whether the court could impose conditions on dismissal without the defendant's consent, whether the district court has jurisdiction to convene post-dismissal proceedings unrelated to enforcement of the settlement agreement, and whether the district court's order changed the terms of the settlement agreement.

The appeal was referred to circuit mediation, and the parties underwent mediation with a Circuit Mediator in February 2015. On July 17, 2015, the parties filed a joint motion to remand the case to the district court for adoption and entry of a proposed amended order entering settlement agreement. The Ninth Circuit granted the joint motion for remand on July 29, 2015.

Back in the district court, Judge Simon issued an order on July 30, 2015 entering the settlement agreement, conditionally dismissing litigation, and setting the first annual status conference. While the substance of the settlement agreement remained the same, the original order established periodic hearings where the parties would "present evidence," while the amended order referred only to annual status conferences. The Ninth Circuit dismissed the appeal on September 21, 2015, pursuant to the parties' joint motion for voluntary dismissal.

The United States entered its first compliance status assessment report on September 29, 2015. Its second compliance status assessment report was filed on October 18, 2016. While reporting substantial or partial compliance in many areas of the settlement agreement, the City was in non-compliance regarding its obligations relating to the Community Oversight Advisory Board (COAB). The report found that the COAB's ability to accomplish its work was significantly impaired by multiple foundational problems. The second annual status conference was held on October 25, 2018, a week after the filling of the second status report. At that status conference, the United States requested interim status conferences for the City to report its progress in developing a revised plan for the COAB and for the parties to propose modifications to the settlement agreement accordingly. The Court granted the United States's request over the City's objection and set an interim status conference.

On December 14, 2016, the City filed a petition for writ of mandamus with the Ninth Circuit. The writ of mandamus requested that the Ninth Circuit direct the district court to withdraw its order setting a further status conference (the interim status conference) and to hold no more than one status conference a year. The City argued that, though the parties had settled on a settlement agreement rather than a consent decree, Judge Simon had "taken an escalating series of steps to enlarge the proceedings, to insinuate itself into and take control of the implementation of the settlement agreement." The City's writ petition claimed that the second annual status conference of October 25, 2016 had departed from the bounds negotiated by the parties. Specifically, the City took issue with the district court's having invited all members of the public to speak, thanking people who made disparaging comments about the defendant, and seemingly inviting the United States to invoke the settlement agreement's breach provisions. The case was referred to Circuit mediation in March 2017.

During the course of the Ninth Circuit mediation, the parties addressed certain substantive settlement agreement compliance issues and developed proposed amendments to the settlement agreement. On December 26, 2017, the United States filed its third periodic compliance assessment report, which reported that the parties collaborated during 2017 to address barriers to compliance through amending language in the original settlement agreement that proved unworkable. On that same day, the parties filed a joint stipulated motion to enter an amended settlement agreement in the district court, and a motion for voluntary dismissal of the petition for writ of mandamus. The Ninth Circuit dismissed the petition of the writ of mandamus on January 3, 2018.

The district court held a fairness hearing on the proposed amended settlement agreement on April 19, 2018, in conjunction with the third annual status conference. In a May 15, 2018 order, the court approved certain proposed amendments to the settlement agreement, including updated provisions on use-of-force reporting, the employee information system, Citizen Review Committee appeals, and the disciplinary process. The court conditionally approved proposed amendments regarding community engagement and oversight, pending the court's further evaluation at an interim status conference set for October 4, 2018. These proposed amendments restructured the Community Oversight Advisory Board (COAB) as the Portland Committee on Community-Engaged Policing (PCCEP). The PCCEP would have a smaller group of volunteers than the COAB, would receive more administrative support and training. The PCCEP would solicit information from the community and PPB about PPB's performance, particularly with regard to constitutional policing; contribute to and advise on community engagement; and receive public comments and concerns.

In their proposed joint stipulated order entering the amended settlement agreement, the parties had requested a standing order of reference to the Ninth Circuit Mediation Program. Judge Browning denied the request for such a standing referral order in his May 15, 2018 order, which provided that, except for the amendments to the settlement agreement, his order of July 30, 2015 remained in force.

The Portland City Council approved the amendments to the settlement agreement, including the community engagement provisions, on August 24, 2018, and the City began to work toward implementing the Portland Committee on Community-Engaged Policing (PCCEP). In a September 27, 2018 memorandum, the City submitted a memorandum updating the court on the establishment of the PCCEP. The memorandum reported that thirteen members had been confirmed to the PCCEP and that training for the PCCEP was underway, and requested that the court grant final approval to the remaining settlement agreement amendments concerning community engagement and the PCCEP.

On October 1, 2018, the court appointed the mental health alliance as amicus curiae in the case. As of October 17, 2018, final approval of the remaining proposed amendments to the settlement agreement--those concerning community engagement and the PCCEP--is still pending. At the October 4, 2018 interim status conference, the court deferred the motion for final approval of the settlement agreement until the next interim status conference, which is scheduled for June 6, 2019.

Greg in den Berken - 09/20/2014
Richard Jolly - 11/28/2014
Sarah McDonald - 10/17/2018


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Equal Protection
Defendant-type
Law-enforcement
Disability
Mental impairment
Discrimination-basis
Disability (inc. reasonable accommodations)
General
Aggressive behavior
Excessive force
Failure to supervise
Failure to train
Improper treatment of mentally ill suspects
Pattern or Practice
Mental Disability
Mental Illness, Unspecified
Plaintiff Type
U.S. Dept of Justice plaintiff
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 14141
Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Defendant(s) City of Portland
Plaintiff Description The United States government.
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 Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 2014 - n/a
Filing Year 2012
Case Ongoing Yes
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 ]

Docket(s)
14­-35903 (U.S. Court of Appeals)
PN-OR-0001-9001.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/21/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
16­-73878 (U.S. Court of Appeals)
PN-OR-0001-9002.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/27/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
3:12-cv-02265 (D. Or.)
PN-OR-0001-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/02/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Proposed Memorandum of Agreement
PN-OR-0001-0008.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date:
Collaborative Agreement
PN-OR-0001-0009.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date:
DOJ Findings Letter re: Investigation of PPB
PN-OR-0001-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/12/2012
Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Special Litigation Section
Statement of Intent
PN-OR-0001-0006.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 09/12/2012
Complaint [ECF# 1]
PN-OR-0001-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/17/2012
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Proposed Settlement Agreement [ECF# 4-1]
PN-OR-0001-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/17/2012
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum in Support of Joint Motion to Enter Settlement Agreement and Conditionally Dismiss Action [ECF# 4]
PN-OR-0001-0007.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 12/17/2012
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion and Order Granting in Part and Deferring in Part Motions to Intervene by the Portland Police Association and by the Albina Ministerial Alliance Coalition for Justice and Police Reform [ECF# 32] (D. Or.)
PN-OR-0001-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/19/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Notice of Fairness Hearing
PN-OR-0001-0011.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 12/20/2013
Order Entering Settlement Agreement [ECF# 86] (D. Or.)
PN-OR-0001-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/29/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum for the Compliance Officer and Community Liaison Re: COAB Administration and Operations
PN-OR-0001-0012.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 04/06/2015
Amended Order Entering Settlement Agreement, Conditionally Dismissing Litigation and Setting First Annual Status Conference [ECF# 99] (D. Or.)
PN-OR-0001-0017.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/30/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Letter Re: Policy Review
PN-OR-0001-0014.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 08/10/2015
Letter Re: Technical Assistance Regarding Crisis Intervention and Behavioral Health
PN-OR-0001-0015.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 08/17/2015
Letter Enclosing Periodic Compliance Status Assessment Report for the Settlement Agreement
PN-OR-0001-0010.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 09/10/2015
Memorandum to the Compliance Officer and Community Liaison Re: COAB Operations
PN-OR-0001-0013.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 12/02/2015
Letter Re: In-Service Training
PN-OR-0001-0016.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 02/26/2016
Plaintiff's Notice of Second Periodic Compliance Assessment Report [ECF# 124]
PN-OR-0001-0018.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/18/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiff's Post Status Conference Status Report [ECF# 136]
PN-OR-0001-0019.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/02/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Petition for Writ of Mandamus, for a Stay of Proceedings and for Reassignment on Remand [Ct. of App. ECF# 10227894]
PN-OR-0001-0024.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/09/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
United States, City of Portland & Portland Police Association's Joint Status Report [ECF# 154]
PN-OR-0001-0020.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/19/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiff's Notice of Third Periodic Compliance Assesment Report [ECF# 158]
PN-OR-0001-0021.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/26/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 171] (D. Or.)
PN-OR-0001-0022.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/15/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
City of Portland's Memorandum Updating Status of Portland Committee on Community-Engaged Policing in Support of Final Approval of Settlement Agreement Amendments [ECF# 183]
PN-OR-0001-0023.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/27/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Simon, Michael Howard (D. Or.)
PN-OR-0001-0002 | PN-OR-0001-0005 | PN-OR-0001-0017 | PN-OR-0001-0022 | PN-OR-0001-9000 | PN-OR-0001-9001 | PN-OR-0001-9002
Plaintiff's Lawyers Brown, Adrian L. (Oregon)
PN-OR-0001-0001 | PN-OR-0001-0004 | PN-OR-0001-0007 | PN-OR-0001-0008 | PN-OR-0001-0010 | PN-OR-0001-0014 | PN-OR-0001-0015 | PN-OR-0001-0018 | PN-OR-0001-0019 | PN-OR-0001-9000 | PN-OR-0001-9001
Buehler, Brian D. (District of Columbia)
PN-OR-0001-0010 | PN-OR-0001-0014 | PN-OR-0001-0015 | PN-OR-0001-0016 | PN-OR-0001-0018 | PN-OR-0001-0020 | PN-OR-0001-0021 | PN-OR-0001-9000
Coon, Laura (District of Columbia)
PN-OR-0001-0001 | PN-OR-0001-0007 | PN-OR-0001-0008 | PN-OR-0001-0009 | PN-OR-0001-0010 | PN-OR-0001-0015 | PN-OR-0001-0016 | PN-OR-0001-0018 | PN-OR-0001-0019 | PN-OR-0001-0020 | PN-OR-0001-0021 | PN-OR-0001-9000
Dean, Kerry Krentler (District of Columbia)
PN-OR-0001-0021
Geissler, R. Jonas (District of Columbia)
PN-OR-0001-0001 | PN-OR-0001-0004 | PN-OR-0001-0007 | PN-OR-0001-0008 | PN-OR-0001-0009 | PN-OR-0001-0010 | PN-OR-0001-0014 | PN-OR-0001-0015 | PN-OR-0001-0016 | PN-OR-0001-0018 | PN-OR-0001-0019 | PN-OR-0001-0020 | PN-OR-0001-0021 | PN-OR-0001-9000
Gore, John M. (District of Columbia)
PN-OR-0001-0021
Gowie, Renata (Oregon)
PN-OR-0001-9000
Gross, Mark L. (District of Columbia)
PN-OR-0001-9001
Hager, Jared (District of Columbia)
PN-OR-0001-0016 | PN-OR-0001-0020 | PN-OR-0001-0021 | PN-OR-0001-9000 | PN-OR-0001-9002
Hebert, Janice E. (Louisiana)
PN-OR-0001-0018 | PN-OR-0001-0020 | PN-OR-0001-0021 | PN-OR-0001-9000
Jones, Michelle A. (District of Columbia)
PN-OR-0001-0001 | PN-OR-0001-0004 | PN-OR-0001-0007 | PN-OR-0001-0008 | PN-OR-0001-9000
Knight, David W. (District of Columbia)
PN-OR-0001-9000 | PN-OR-0001-9001
Marshall, S. Amanda (Oregon)
PN-OR-0001-0003 | PN-OR-0001-0004 | PN-OR-0001-0006 | PN-OR-0001-0007 | PN-OR-0001-0008 | PN-OR-0001-0009
Moossy, Robert J. (District of Columbia)
PN-OR-0001-0020
Morse, Thomas Jackson (District of Columbia)
PN-OR-0001-0009 | PN-OR-0001-9000
Perez, Thomas E. (District of Columbia)
PN-OR-0001-0003 | PN-OR-0001-0004 | PN-OR-0001-0006 | PN-OR-0001-0007 | PN-OR-0001-0009
Preston, Judith C. (District of Columbia)
PN-OR-0001-0010 | PN-OR-0001-0015
Rosenbaum, Steven H. (District of Columbia)
PN-OR-0001-0019 | PN-OR-0001-0020 | PN-OR-0001-0021
Samuels, Jocelyn (District of Columbia)
PN-OR-0001-0008
Smith, Jonathan Mark (District of Columbia)
PN-OR-0001-0007 | PN-OR-0001-0008 | PN-OR-0001-0009
Wang, Christopher C. (District of Columbia)
PN-OR-0001-9001
Wayne, Seth (District of Columbia)
PN-OR-0001-0018
Wheeler, Tom E. II (District of Columbia)
PN-OR-0001-0020
Williams, Billy J. (Oregon)
PN-OR-0001-0004 | PN-OR-0001-0007 | PN-OR-0001-0008 | PN-OR-0001-0010 | PN-OR-0001-0014 | PN-OR-0001-0015 | PN-OR-0001-0016 | PN-OR-0001-0018 | PN-OR-0001-0019 | PN-OR-0001-0020 | PN-OR-0001-0021 | PN-OR-0001-9000 | PN-OR-0001-9001 | PN-OR-0001-9002
Zusman, Kelly Alexandre (Oregon)
PN-OR-0001-9001
Defendant's Lawyers Amberg, Mark P. (Oregon)
PN-OR-0001-0020 | PN-OR-0001-9000
Calderon, Tovah R. (District of Columbia)
PN-OR-0001-9002
Chambers, Kristen (Oregon)
PN-OR-0001-9002
Karia, Anil (Oregon)
PN-OR-0001-0020 | PN-OR-0001-9000 | PN-OR-0001-9001 | PN-OR-0001-9002
Kwong, Teresa (District of Columbia)
PN-OR-0001-9002
Landrum, David A. (Oregon)
PN-OR-0001-0020 | PN-OR-0001-9000
Osoinach, Ellen C. (Oregon)
PN-OR-0001-9000 | PN-OR-0001-9001
Prosper, Judy S. (Oregon)
PN-OR-0001-9000
Reeve, Tracy (Oregon)
PN-OR-0001-0020 | PN-OR-0001-0023 | PN-OR-0001-0024 | PN-OR-0001-9000 | PN-OR-0001-9002
Van Dyke, James H. (Oregon)
PN-OR-0001-0004 | PN-OR-0001-0007 | PN-OR-0001-0008 | PN-OR-0001-0009 | PN-OR-0001-9000
Vannier, Denis M. (Oregon)
PN-OR-0001-0020 | PN-OR-0001-9000 | PN-OR-0001-9001 | PN-OR-0001-9002
Woboril, David L. (Oregon)
PN-OR-0001-9000
Other Lawyers Albies, Jessica Ashlee (Oregon)
PN-OR-0001-9000 | PN-OR-0001-9002
Curphey, Shauna M. (Oregon)
PN-OR-0001-9000 | PN-OR-0001-9002

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