ILNews

No qualified immunity for city in racially motivated promotions

Back to TopE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the denial of the motion of qualified immunity filed by the City of Indianapolis and several officials in a suit filed by three white police officers who claim they were passed over for promotions because of their race.

Lieutenants Joseph Finch, David Hensley, and Peter Mungovan sued the city, the law enforcement Merit Board, and seven city officials alleging violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act because three African-American officers were promoted to captain over them, despite the white officers ranking higher on the then-Indianapolis Police Department’s promotion eligibility list. The city maintained that they were required to promote the African-American officers because of a 1978 decree entered into by IPD and the Department of Justice to rectify an alleged pattern of discriminatory practices adversely affecting African-American officers.

Magistrate Judge Debra McVicker Lynch denied the motion, which the 7th Circuit judges affirmed.

In Joseph Finch, David E. Hensley, and Peter W. Mungovan v. Bart Peterson, individually and in his official capacity, et al. No. 09-2676, the appellate court, just like Magistrate Judge McVicker Lynch, found the 1978 consent decree that the city claimed compelled them to promote the African-American officers actually advocated against the use of race for promotions. Section X, “Job Assignments,” is clear that race should have no place in the promotions process. The promotions section, Section IX, contains language mandating that promotions shall be based on relevant standards and criteria applied without considering race or color.

“More specifically, Section IX(D) mandates that any promotional screening tool ‘may not be used more than one (1) time if it has an adverse effect on blacks and it is not shown to be properly validated in accordance with applicable federal guidelines,’” wrote Judge Diane Sykes. “If the Police Department were permitted to adjust the results of any promotional test, ex post, in order to advantage African-American officers, Subsection IX(D) would be of little use because the results of any offending test could simply be manipulated after the fact in order to produce the desired outcome.”

A footnote states that the three officers have since been retroactively promoted based on a separate consent decree entered into between the police department and the DOJ after the federal department brought a suit against the police department alleging it violated Title VII by making promotions on the basis of race and sex.
 

ADVERTISEMENT

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. Paul Ogden doing a fine job of remembering his peer Gary Welsh with the post below and a call for an Indy gettogether to celebrate Gary .... http://www.ogdenonpolitics.com/2016/05/indiana-loses-citizen-journalist-giant.html Castaways of Indiana, unite!

  2. It's unfortunate that someone has attempted to hijack the comments to promote his own business. This is not an article discussing the means of preserving the record; no matter how it's accomplished, ethics and impartiality are paramount concerns. When a party to litigation contracts directly with a reporting firm, it creates, at the very least, the appearance of a conflict of interest. Court reporters, attorneys and judges are officers of the court and must abide by court rules as well as state and federal laws. Parties to litigation have no such ethical responsibilities. Would we accept insurance companies contracting with judges? This practice effectively shifts costs to the party who can least afford it while reducing costs for the party with the most resources. The success of our justice system depends on equal access for all, not just for those who have the deepest pockets.

  3. As a licensed court reporter in California, I have to say that I'm sure that at some point we will be replaced by speech recognition. However, from what I've seen of it so far, it's a lot farther away than three years. It doesn't sound like Mr. Hubbard has ever sat in a courtroom or a deposition room where testimony is being given. Not all procedures are the same, and often they become quite heated with the ends of question and beginning of answers overlapping. The human mind can discern the words to a certain extent in those cases, but I doubt very much that a computer can yet. There is also the issue of very heavy accents and mumbling. People speak very fast nowadays, and in order to do that, they generally slur everything together, they drop or swallow words like "the" and "and." Voice recognition might be able to produce some form of a transcript, but I'd be very surprised if it produces an accurate or verbatim transcript, as is required in the legal world.

  4. Really enjoyed the profile. Congratulations to Craig on living the dream, and kudos to the pros who got involved to help him realize the vision.

  5. Why in the world would someone need a person to correct a transcript when a realtime court reporter could provide them with a transcript (rough draft) immediately?

ADVERTISEMENT