Abdication of Civil Rights Oversight

In the final year of the Obama Administration, the U.S. Department of Justice conducted a wide-ranging investigation of the Chicago Police Department. The resulting report condemned CPD for its institutional racism, broken disciplinary system, “code of silence,” and pattern and practice of using unreasonable – sometimes deadly – force.

However, President Trump’s Department of Justice has publicly denounced any litigation that would subject police departments to federal court oversight.

Fighting for Federal Intervention & Community Oversight of the Chicago Police Department

We formed a coalition of attorneys, community organizations and individuals to file a historic class action lawsuit seeking federal court oversight of the Chicago Police Department’s (“CPD’s”) operations on behalf of thousands of individuals, predominately Blacks and Latinxs, who have been subjected to the CPD’s policy and practice of using excessive force, sometimes in racially discriminatory and brutal ways.  This community challenge to a police department’s pattern and practice of unconstitutional policing is virtually unprecedented.

We have released a “Community Consent Decree,” addressing almost every aspect of CPD operations—including how the CPD interacts with Black and Brown communities, people with disabilities, young people, women and LGBTQI individuals—and are in negotiations with the Illinois Attorney General and the Chicago Mayor regarding the entry and implementation of an appropriate, court-enforceable decree to govern CPD operations.

In a further blow to federal oversight, President Trump also pardoned Joseph Arpaio, a disgraced former Sheriff. Arpaio was convicted of criminal contempt of court for failing to stop illegal roundups of immigrants. Trump pardoned Arpaio in an effort to free him from responsibility for his violation of federal law.

We are challenging the validity of the pardon.

David Shapiro

Challenging the Illegal Arpaio Pardon

The MacArthur Justice Center filed a brief challenging the pardon, supporting the guilty verdict against Arpaio, and arguing for the appointment of an independent attorney in the Arizona federal court. The Ninth Circuit granted the request by a coalition including the MacArthur Justice Center to appoint private counsel to the case because the Trump administration failed to defend the verdict against Arpaio.

United States v. Joseph Arpaio