This case, Maryland NAACP v. Baltimore City Police Department, 1:06-cv-01863-CCB (D. Md. 2006) was one of three cases filed about the same time alleging mistreatment of persons arrested and taken to Baltimore Central Booking and Intake Center ("Central Booking" or "CBIC") for booking and processing. (The other cases were JC-MD-0007: Jones v. Murphy, Case No. 1:05-cv-01287-CCB (D. Md. 2005) and JC-MD-0011: Rodney v. Murphy, 24-C-05004405, filed in Maryland state court.) Central Booking was opened in 1995 as the central location for booking and processing arrestees in Baltimore City. Operated by the Maryland Division of Pretrial Detention and Services, part of the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, Central Booking processed approximately 100,000 arrestees annually.
This case was a class-action lawsuit filed in the United States District for the District of Maryland on July 21, 2006, by five individuals and two NAACP entities. Represented by the ACLU of Maryland Foundation and private attorneys from New York and Washington, D.C., the plaintiffs alleged that the Baltimore City Police Department engaged in a pattern and practice of illegally arresting tens of thousands of individuals each year who were not and could not be prosecuted. The plaintiffs further alleged that, after being illegally arrested, the individuals were taken to Central Booking where they were strip-searched and detained for days, as long as 54 hours, in inhumane conditions, until they were released without being charged with a crime. This practice, plaintiffs alleged, was encouraged by the Baltimore Police Department, which rewarded officers for high arrest productivity and punished officers with few arrests, regardless of the success of the prosecution. In 2005, 30% of those arrested without a warrant were never charged. The plaintiffs alleged there were illegal arrests for things such as stopping on the street to watch a woman being handcuffed, handing out religious pamphlets, sitting on the steps of a building, dropping a food wrapper, and walking down the street.
The plaintiffs sought monetary damages, injunctive relief, and certification for a class consisting of "arrestees who were (1) arrested by the Police Department without probable cause and (2) released without charges after being booked at CBIC." The defendants included the City of Baltimore, the Baltimore Police Department, the warden of Central Booking, and other state officials.
The State defendants answered by generally denying the charges. The City and Police Department moved to dismiss for failure to state a claim. On December 1, 2006, the District Court (District Judge Catherine C. Blake) denied the motion to dismiss. 2006 WL 3626898 (D. Md. Dec 01, 2006).
As discovery progressed, Judge Blake required the parties in this case and Jones v. Murhpy, another pending before her, to provide periodic status reports to the Court. The state defendants produced electronic data pertaining to arrests from 2002--August 2007 and numerous hardcopy documents. The plaintiffs also took the depositions of various officials with the Police Department and Central Booking.
The plaintiffs filed an amended complaint on December 18, 2007, adding 9 individual plaintiffs and several new defendants, including the new Mayor of Baltimore and several police officers. On February 27, 2008, the plaintiffs filed a second amended complaint adding additional plaintiffs and defendants. On April 25, 2008, the plaintiffs moved for class certification.
Following leadership changes at BPD, the parties entered into settlement negotiations, which culminated in settlement agreement to end the lawsuit. On June 29, 2010, the parties reached a settlement agreement that was approved by the court. The comprehensive settlement provided for significant reforms of the BPD's arrest and monitoring practices and the court retained jurisdiction to enforce the settlement for three years. The BPD committed to new policies and training to ensure officers knew the limits of their authority, and would address low level offenses with actions short of arrest whenever possible. The defendants agreed to pay the plaintiffs $630,000 in damages and attorneys' fees. The agreement also required the BPD to implement a new system of comprehensive data collection and monitoring, which would be overseen by an independent auditor. The job of the auditor was to ensure not only that the data is being kept and appropriately used and analyzed, but also to review probable cause statements to verify that officers had sufficient cause for an arrest, and that supervisors are adequately monitoring officers' actions, and intervening as necessary. The auditor's reports can be found on the ACLU's website here
On April 30, 2012, the auditor released his first report and the plaintiffs alleged in a press release
that the BPD had failed to comply with the settlement agreement. The plaintiffs stated that the status report revealed that BPD officers did not or could not justify arrests for quality of life offenses in at least 35 percent of the cases examined; that the BPD was almost one and half years late in creating a database to allow it to effectively monitor officer and supervisor behavior; and that the BPD was improperly refusing to give the auditor records of arrests that resulted in persons being released without charge, the very arrests most likely to be improper, and the ones that led to the lawsuit in the first place. The docket sheet does not reveal any plaintiffs' motion regarding this alleged noncompliance with the settlement agreement.
For the next three years, the auditor continued to file report documenting the defendants' implementation of the settlement agreement. The auditor filed his final report in 2015. The case is now closed. Dan Dalton - 02/12/2008
Jessica Kincaid - 03/15/2016