The city of New Orleans and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) yesterday responded to four requests to intervene in federal court hearings leading up to and following the finalization of the New Orleans Police Department's proposed consent decree. The four parties who filed motions are the Office of the Independent Police Monitor, the Police Association of New Orleans, the Fraternal Order of Police and Community United for Change.
The city's filing deals primarily with accusations from the groups that negotiations leading to the proposed agreement were closed off from the community and interested governmental parties.
During negotiations, the Department of Justice and the City consulted repeatedly with a broad swath of stakeholders to ensure that all interested parties have had and will have their interests fairly considered in the substance and implementation of the Decree.
(More after the jump)
The Department of Justice has stated that it has participated in scores of community meetings and repeatedly had one-on-one conversations with community and criminal justice stakeholders throughout New Orleans, including police officers, supervisors, and commanders; representatives from all three NOPD police organizations; the Independent Police Monitor; police reform and social justice advocates; immigrant rights groups; LGBT advocates; anti-sexual assault and domestic violence advocates; victims of alleged police abuse; members of neighborhood community-police groups; individuals working in the Office of the Public Defender; the District Attorney’s office; and federal law enforcement agents who work in joint task forces with New Orleans police officers.
A retired NOPD officer fully participated on the negotiation team to represent the interests of NOPD and its officers and to act as their liaison throughout the process. Moreover, the City met with some officers assigned to or overseeing specific units to discuss the reforms that most directly related to their unit.
Any unnecessary delay in the implementation of [the consent decree's] reforms will be counter to the interests of the entire New Orleans community. After more than two years of hard work and extensive negotiations, the citizens of New Orleans deserve to experience the positive effect of the Consent Decree without further delay.
DOJ's much longer response argues that none of the parties seeking to intervene deserve special status in determining consent decree implementation, as the whole city will be affected by the agreement. Rather than granting them that status, DOJ's filing says, the court should be open to accepting amicus briefs from interested groups.
From its filing:
None of the Movants have articulated any legally protected property interest that will be impaired if they are not permitted to intervene.
The only protectable interest that the FOP and PANO assert is the officers’ property interest in their jobs, which stems from their status as classified civil servants. However, the Decree does not in any way affect officers’ right to employment, nor does either organization assert any way in which it does. Moreover, because the organizations’ members do not have collective bargaining agreements with the City, they have no contractual rights with which the Decree may interfere.
As opposed to the LAPD officers' union, which claimed an interest in that city's consent decree. Again, from DOJ's filing:
United States v. Los Angeles, 288 F.3d 391, the case involving the consent decree to reform the Los Angeles Police Department (“LAPD”), is distinct because in that case the Court found that the LAPD officers’ union had a protectable interest in the remedy sought by the parties because the union and the city operated pursuant to a memorandum of understanding (“MOU”) which governed the terms and conditions under which members of the union were employed by the city.
The filing says that the officers' only similar claim is that the consent decree may interfere with the city's civil service process. The decree, DOJ argues, "explicitly states that it shall be in accordance" with civil service rules.
Note: section XIV of the proposed decree calls for NOPD to "work with Civil Service to develop and implement" new policies governing performance evaluations and promotions. However, any change to current civil service policies would have to be approved by a vote of the Civil Service Commission.
On the IPM:
The OIPM asserts also that the Decree abrogates its authority and regulates “everything the OIPM is required to do.” OIPM Memorandum at 6. In fact, the Decree is explicit that it “in no way diminishes the authority and oversight provided by the [OIPM] pursuant to city ordinance and the related Memorandum of understanding between the [OIPM] and NOPD.”
On Community United for Change:
Its criticism that the Decree will not adequately remediate the United States’ allegations does not demonstrate a substantial, legally protectable interest warranting intervention. The United States recognizes CUC’s effort and focus on reforming NOPD, and met frequently with CUC throughout the investigation and negotiation of this matter. However, CUC’s efforts do not create a right to intervene in this case.
The city's response: CityofNOResponse.pdf
DOJ's response: DOJResponse.pdf
Oral arguments on the interventions are scheduled for Monday, August 20 in U.S. District Court.