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No qualified immunity for city in racially motivated promotions

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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.
 

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  1. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  2. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  3. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  4. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

  5. I am compelled to announce that I am not posting under any Smith monikers here. That said, the post below does have a certain ring to it that sounds familiar to me: http://www.catholicnewworld.com/cnwonline/2014/0907/cardinal.aspx

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