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Friday, August 31, 2012

Federal Judge denies all motions to intervene in NOPD Consent Decree

Posted By on Fri, Aug 31, 2012 at 3:55 PM

U.S. District Court Judge Susie Morgan today ruled against all four entities seeking full party status in litigation leading to the final approval of the proposed consent between the U.S. Department of Justice and the New Orleans Police Department.

The four parties requesting to intervene in the consent decree were the Office of the Independent Police Monitor (IPM), officers' associations the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) and the Police Association of New Orleans (PANO) and the citizens' group Community United for Change.

PANO and FOP argued that the proposed consent decree impaired their employment rights guaranteed by city civil service rules. Sections of the 492-point document requires changes to policies on promotions, evaluations and recruitment, many of which, the associations believe, would require changing civil service rules.

But those changes are still unspecified, Morgan found, and the associations could not identify how they may affect their property rights.

Though denying PANO's and FOP's requests to intervene, Morgan did allow that the associations may have a right to intervene later.

"Nevertheless, the Court underscores, the City and the United States cannot use the proposed Consent Decree as a means of legally sanctioning a violation of the Civil Service rules," reads Morgan's ruling. "If changes are proposed to any NOPD policies that may conflict with the Civil Service rules and procedures, FOP and/or PANO may move to intervene for the limited purpose of asserting their Civil Service property rights."

IPM's request was denied on the basis that the office, a component unit of the Office of the Inspector General, is not, in Morgan's opinion "a juridical person" with a right to sue on its own behalf under Louisiana law.

As for Community United for Change, Morgan found that the group did not adequately demonstrate any actual legally protectable contractual or property interest that would be impaired if the group were not granted intervenor status.

"Moreover, even if CUC did have a legally protectable interest related to the subject matter of this litigation, the Court finds that CUC’s interests are not, as a practical matter, impaired by this litigation," because the proposed agreement doesn't prevent them or other citizens' groups from suing NOPD for unconstitutional policing, the order says.

In the conclusion to her order, Morgan indicated that she did take the groups' concerns about the agreement to heart.

"The Court will not rubber stamp any plan that does not meaningfully address the legitimate concerns expressed by the OIPM, IPM, CUC and the Police Associations," it says.

An evidentiary hearing on the full consent decree is scheduled for Sept. 5 in U.S. District Court.

Read Morgan's ruling: InterventionDenied.pdf

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