Letter from Bob Joondeph of the Disability Rights Organization

Friends,

On Dec. 17, USDOJ filed suit against the City of Portland under the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act alleging that city’s police have acted with excessive force against persons with (or perceived to have) mental illness. This follows the negotiation between the USDOJ and City of a Settlement Agreement. Terms of the Agreement include the filing of this action and its dismissal pending the performance of its other provisions.

The next day, the Portland Police Association moved to intervene as a matter of right under FRCP 24(a), or, in the alternative, to intervene permissively under FRCP 24(b).

This morning (the 21st) Judge Michael Simon held a Status Conference in his courtroom. He gave the USDOJ an extension of time to respond to the Motion to Intervene and set out how he plans to proceed with the case. Here’s what he said.

The Court’s role is to determine whether this settlement agreement is fair, just, and consistent with the public interest as determined by Congress. While class action settlements require a Fairness Hearing, a case of this sort does not. However, the Court has the discretion to hold a Fairness Hearing nonetheless. In this case, he believes a Fairness Hearing to be appropriate.

He said that everyone concerned will have an opportunity to be heard. He will allow anyone to submit written comments to the court, will hold hearings when the public can conveniently attend, even if that requires evenings or weekends, and is open to all suggestions about how the process can be as open as possible. He will also have a “clearinghouse” established so that anyone can review the written comments, motions, or other documents submitted.

He set the following deadlines:

Jan. 8: Any further motions to intervene will be considered “timely” if filed by this date.
Jan 22: Responsive memoranda to Motions to Intervene are due. Also, all comments on how to conduct the Fairness Hearing and public input process are due.
Feb. 5: Deadline for replies in Support of Motions to Intervene.
Feb 19: Hearing on all motions. (9 AM).

This will be covered in the news, but it’s important to spread the word that anyone can be involved who wants to be.

Happy Holidays!
Bob Joondeph
Executive Director
Disability Rights Oregon