University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
Title "Rizzo v. Goode"
Date Jan 21, 1976
Author Oyez
External Link
Abstract Two suits, permitted to proceed as class actions, were brought in District Court under 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983 by respondents, individuals and organizations, against petitioners, the Mayor of Philadelphia, the Police Commissioner, and others, alleging a pervasive pattern of illegal and unconstitutional police mistreatment of minority citizens in particular, and Philadelphia residents in general. The petitioners were charged with misconduct ranging from express authorization or encouragement of the mistreatment to failure to act in such a way as to avoid recurrence. The principal antagonists involved in one case were two police officers, not named as parties, who were found to have violated complainants' constitutional rights in three of eight incidents as to which the District Court made detailed factual findings and as to which a five-day suspension had resulted in one incident and no disciplinary action in another. In the other case, in only two of 28 incidents did the District Court conclude that the police conduct amounted to a deprivation of a federally secured right; it found no police misconduct in four incidents; in another, departmental policy was subsequently changed; and, though the court made no comment on the degree of misconduct occurring in the remainder, there were arguably 16 police violations of citizens' constitutional rights in the year involved. The District Court found, inter alia, that the evidence did not establish the existence of any policy on the part of petitioners to violate the constitutional rights of respondent classes, but found evidence of departmental discouragement of complaints and a tendency to minimize the consequences of police misconduct. The court found that only a small percentage of policemen commit violations of the rights of Philadelphia residents generally, but that such violations could not be dismissed as rare or isolated. Petitioners were directed to draft for the court's approval "a comprehensive program for dealing adequately with civilian complaints" to be formulated in accordance with the court's "guidelines" containing detailed suggestions for revising the police manuals and procedural rules for dealing with citizens and for changing procedures for handling complaints. On petitioners' appeal the Court of Appeals affirmed.
Source Oyez

This Resource Relates To
case Rulli v. Pittsburgh (PN-PA-0023)

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