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MARTINEZ v. VILLAGE OF MOUNT PROSPECT

April 5, 2000

JAVIER MARTINEZ, PLAINTIFF,
V.
VILLAGE OF MOUNT PROSPECT; RONALD PAVLOCK, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY; TOM DALEY, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY; DICK DRAFFONE; INDIVIDUALLY AND IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY; DAVID NICHOLSON, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY; AND JACK DAHLBERG, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY, DEFENDANTS. HARRY MOSER, PLAINTIFF, V. VILLAGE OF MOUNT PROSPECT AND TOM DALEY, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Castillo, District Judge.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Our nation, throughout its history, has continually struggled with the issue of race. As we begin the twenty-first century, it is critical that our legal system assist in the elimination of all racial discrimination. We must constantly strive to ensure that race plays no role in the day-to-day operation of our justice system. These two lawsuits are reflective of some of the racial issues we must as a society address in our criminal justice system.

Currently pending before the Court are the parties' joint motion to approve their respective settlement agreements in these two lawsuits and their joint motions to dismiss both cases with prejudice.*fn1 For the reasons that follow, we approve the settlements and commend the parties for their efforts in addressing the critical issues presented in this litigation.

In Martinez v. Village of Mount Prospect, No. 96 C 6027, a Hispanic former police trainee accused the Village of Mount Prospect's Police Department of national origin employment discrimination. At trial, this Court, over objection, allowed Martinez to introduce significant evidence that the Police Department targeted Hispanic members of the community in an effort to meet various arrest quotas. Specifically, we allowed Martinez, as well as other present and former Mount Prospect officers and trainees, to testify that they were instructed by commanding officers to target Hispanic drivers for traffic stops. Additionally, we permitted Martinez to submit evidence regarding the disproportionately high percentage of traffic tickets received by Hispanic drivers as compared to their numbers in the community. We admitted this evidence because it is relevant to Martinez's claim that he was subjected to a hostile work environment because of his national origin and that the Mount Prospect Police Department had a widespread custom of discriminating against Hispanic people, including him. See Schwapp v. Town of Avon, 118 F.3d 106, 111 (2d Cir. 1997) ("Schwapp's awareness that a supervisor . . . told officers to target minorities for traffic stops could very well be relevant to Schwapp's reasonable perception of a hostile work environment.")

In view of the jury's verdict and the trial evidence, this Court thereafter entered a temporary restraining order, (R. 142), in which we enjoined the Village, Thomas Daley, and Richard Draffone

from engaging in a custom, policy or practice of discriminating against the plaintiff or other Hispanic persons, and . . . from directing, suggesting, ordering or otherwise communicating that any police officer should focus, concentrate, target, profile, or otherwise modify law enforcement efforts in any way on the sole basis of the national origin of any person.

This order was generally continued by agreement of the parties until the Court ruled on the various post-trial motions or the case was settled. (R. 159.)

In our second case, Moser v. Village of Mount Prospect, No. 98 C 7580, a Mount Prospect police officer accused the Village of retaliation after he supported Martinez's discrimination charges. Moser and another police officer's employment discrimination case against the Village, Medrano v. Village of Mount Prospect, No. 98 C 4638, were awaiting trial when the Martinez verdict was returned. Ultimately, with the able assistance of our colleague District Court Judge Rebecca R. Pallmeyer, all three plaintiffs — Martinez, Moser, and Medrano — entered into separate but dependent settlement agreements with the Village. In other words, each plaintiff has a separate agreement with the Village, but the agreements are void unless all three are approved by the Court.

As detailed in our letter to the Justice Department, this Court was deeply troubled by the evidence of racial profiling admitted in the Martinez case. Racial profiling of any kind is anathema to our criminal justice system because it eviscerates the core integrity that is necessary to operate that system effectively in our diverse democracy. Many respected legal scholars have closely analyzed the critical societal problems caused by racial profiling. See, e.g., David Cole, No EQUAL JUSTICE: RACE AND CLASS IN THE AMERICAN CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM (1999); Randall Kennedy, RACE, CRIME, AND THE LAW (1997); David A. Harris, The Stories, The Statistics, and the Law: Why "Driving While Black" Matters, 84 MINN.L.REV. 265 (1999); David Cole, Race, Policing, and the Future of Criminal Law, 26 HUM.RTS. 2 (Summer 1999) Dorothy E. Roberts, Foreword: Race, Vagueness, and the Social Meaning of Order-Maintenance Policing, 89 J.CRIM.L. & CRIMINOLOGY 775 (1999).

Professor Cole of the Georgetown Law Center, for example, points out that double standards based on race, such a profiling,

undermine law enforcement itself, because they breed resentment and alienation among minorities. . . . People who see the criminal justice system as fundamentally unfair will be less likely to cooperate with police, to testify as witnesses, to serve on juries, and to convict guilty defendants when they do serve. In addition, people who have lost respect for the law's legitimacy are more likely to break the law themselves. . . . Finally, the perception and reality of a fundamentally unfair criminal justice system contribute to broader racial divisions in society.

Cole, Race, Policing, 26 HUM.RTS. at 3. If we cannot believe that our nation's law enforcement officers will enforce the law in a racially neutral manner, then we will be left with a society where members of the minority community always view the actions of any police officer with great suspicion. See Harris, The Stories, 84 MINN. L.REV. at 268 ("Pretextual traffic stops aggravate years of accumulated feelings of injustice, resulting in deepening distrust and cynicism by African-Americans about police and the entire criminal justice system.").

The reverse will also be true because racial profiling is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Officers that engage in profiling will necessarily come into contact with law-breaking members of minority communities far more frequently than with law-breaking whites and thus will view the actions of minority civilians with a presumption of guilt. See, e.g., Harris, The Stories, 84 MINN.L.REV. at 268 ("Skin color becomes evidence, and race becomes a proxy for general criminal propensity."); Id. at 301 ("Put simply, there is a connection between where police look for contraband and where they find it."); Roberts, Foreword, 89 J.CRIM.L & CRIMINOLOGY at 818 ("[T]argeting Blacks for police surveillance results in higher ...


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