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Case Name Ledford v. City of Highland Park, Illinois PN-IL-0004
Docket / Court 1:00-cv-04212 ( N.D. Ill. )
State/Territory Illinois
Case Type(s) Policing
Case Summary
On July 12, 2000, Michael and Karen Ledford, African-Americans, filed this class action in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, for alleged unconstitutional racial profiling by the City of Highland Park, Illinois Police Department [HPPD]. The ... read more >
On July 12, 2000, Michael and Karen Ledford, African-Americans, filed this class action in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, for alleged unconstitutional racial profiling by the City of Highland Park, Illinois Police Department [HPPD]. The Ledfords were represented by attorneys from ACLU and private counsel. Plaintiffs alleged violations of their rights as secured by the Fourth Amendment, the Equal Protection Clause and Title VI. Shortly after the initial filing, plaintiffs moved for class certification and the parties filed a joint motion for entry of a consent decree.

The origin of the case was an employment action, Watt v. Highland Park Police Department, No. 98-cv-8123 (N.D. Ill.). The Watt plaintiffs initially alleged a host of retaliatory actions directed against officers for union activities, and also that they were encouraged to engage in racial profiling. The accusations of discrimination were highly publicized and produced significant public concern. In response, the City retained former U.S. Attorney Tom Sullivan to conduct an independent race discrimination investigation.

According to a summary of it at http://www.aele.org/zoufal.html, the Sullivan investigation concluded that there was not a widespread practice of racial profiling or discriminatory conduct and that no such practice was taught or encouraged by the department or its command staff. The report did conclude, however, that at least one officer and possibly others was likely involved in profiling Hispanics for traffic stops. It also concluded that the command staff was "remiss in not directly addressing the subject of racial profiling giving clear direction to all officers. . . [and] ensuring compliance with those directions. . . " Independent Counsel's Report at p. 177.

The same summary states that the report made a number of recommendations, including:
1) issuance of a general order prohibiting profiling activities in specific and discriminatory practices in general;
2) sensitivity training for officers;
3) creation of a preprinted card to be issued whenever an officer makes a stop (vehicular or pedestrian) with instructions and a "hot line" number for lodging a citizen's complaint;
4) amendment of traffic citation forms to require recording of the "apparent race" of the person cited, together with recordkeeping concerning every stop or frisk conducted, the age, race and gender of persons stopped, whether a search was conducted, and whether consent was given;
5) statistical analysis of all stops and review on a quarterly basis to determine whether or not racial profiling is occurring;
6) use of in-car video to record all traffic stops; and
7) enhanced community outreach.

The report also included recommendations to increase efforts toward minority recruitment in hiring and a specific recommendation for an internal human relations program for the department, as well as recommendations on promotional and disciplinary issues.

This lawsuit was filed a few months later, simultaneously with a proposed class settlement/consent decree.

On July 31, 2000, the District Court (Judge William T. Hart), granted in part and denied in part plaintiffs' motion for class certification. The District Court also granted in part and denied in part the joint motion for entry of the consent decree and set the matter for a fairness hearing. Ledford v. City of Highland Park, 2000 WL 1053967 (N.D.Ill. July 31, 2000).

A modified consent decree was filed on August 2, 2000, which the District Court preliminarily found to be a fair and reasonable settlement. Plaintiffs filed class notice documents including a Spanish-language version of class notice.

On September 27, 2000, a fairness hearing was held. The District Court granted the defendant's motion to amend the proposed consent decree and overruled objections to the settlement that were filed by individual class members. The individual objectors appealed. On January 16, 2001, the Seventh Circuit dismissed the appeal for failure to prosecute.

The terms of the consent decree included:
• A prohibition of racial profiling and racial discrimination of any kind by HPPD officers;
• Documentation of various information (including race) for every incident involving a stop, detention, interrogation and/or search by HPPD;
• Installing audio and video equipment in each HPPD patrol vehicle;
• Implementation of a citizen complaint system;
• Training officers in cultural diversity issues.

The parties agreed that the Consent Decree would terminate five years after its date of entry, or two years earlier if the department was in compliance with various provisions and there had not been any racial profiling during the term of the decree, or plaintiffs' attorneys considered the response to any such allegation "effective, timely and adequate."

The terms of this Consent Decree were incorporated by reference into the Memorandum of Agreement that ended the U.S. Department of Justice's similar investigation into the same department. See related cases, below.

The docket does not include any further entries, so presumably the matter was closed in 2005.

Dan Dalton - 01/10/2007


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Equal Protection
Unreasonable search and seizure
Discrimination-basis
Race discrimination
General
Racial profiling
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) City of Highland Park, Illinois Police Department
Plaintiff Description All persons who have in the past and are likely in the future to be subjected to any policy, practice or custom which has the result of or requires HPPD officers to target persons for stops, detentions, et., on the basis of race or ethnicity.
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
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 2000 - 2005
Filed 2000
Case Closing Year 2005
Case Ongoing No
Case Listing PN-IL-0005 : DOJ 14141 investigation of Highland Park Police (Illinois) (No Court)
Additional Resources
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
Docket(s)
1:00-cv-04212 (N.D. Ill.)
PN-IL-0004-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/03/2003
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint
PN-IL-0004-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/12/2000
Memorandum Opinion and Order (2000 WL 1053967 / 2000 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 11101) (N.D. Ill.)
PN-IL-0004-0003.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 07/31/2000
Consent Decree
PN-IL-0004-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/05/2000
show all people docs
Judges Hart, William Thomas (N.D. Ill.) show/hide docs
PN-IL-0004-0001 | PN-IL-0004-0003 | PN-IL-0004-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Baldwin, Roger (Illinois) show/hide docs
PN-IL-0004-0003
Fischer, Matthew (Illinois) show/hide docs
PN-IL-0004-0002 | PN-IL-0004-0003 | PN-IL-0004-9000
Greenwalt, Paul E. III (Illinois) show/hide docs
PN-IL-0004-0002 | PN-IL-0004-0003 | PN-IL-0004-9000
Grossman, Harvey (Illinois) show/hide docs
PN-IL-0004-0001 | PN-IL-0004-0002 | PN-IL-0004-0003 | PN-IL-0004-9000
Morehouse, Carolyn (Illinois) show/hide docs
PN-IL-0004-0002 | PN-IL-0004-9000
Morgan, Keevan David (Illinois) show/hide docs
PN-IL-0004-9000
Schwartz, Adam D. (Illinois) show/hide docs
PN-IL-0004-0001 | PN-IL-0004-0002 | PN-IL-0004-0003 | PN-IL-0004-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Carr, James R. (Illinois) show/hide docs
PN-IL-0004-0001 | PN-IL-0004-0003
Elrod, Steven M. (Illinois) show/hide docs
PN-IL-0004-0001 | PN-IL-0004-0003 | PN-IL-0004-9000

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