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Judge denies citizen commission formal role in SPD reforms

Judge denies citizen commission formal role in SPD reforms
Posted by Steve Miletich

A federal judge today denied a citizen commission’s request to formally intervene in court-ordered Seattle police reforms and refused to grant delays the panel had requested to offer its views regarding policy changes.

But in a 19-page order, U.S. District Judge James Robart permitted the Community Police Commission (CPC) to file memorandums with the court “commenting on any issue or motion” raised as part of the City of Seattle’s settlement agreement with the Department of Justice to curb excessive force and biased policing in the Police Department.

Robart also granted “compromise” delays offered by federal attorneys to allow the CPC, which was created as part of last year’s settlement agreement, more time to comment on bias-free policing, brief detentions of citizens and the Police Department’s community outreach.

However, Robart denied the CPC’s request to extend deadlines to comment on use-of-force training curricula, an early-intervention system to identify problem officers and policy manual for the Police Department’s internal-investigation unit, the Office of Professional Accountability.

Robart’s ruling represented a victory for federal attorneys, who objected to the CPC’s request to intervene, saying it would cause undue delay in the reform. They also fully objected to some of the delays sought by the CPC.

In his ruling, Robart wrote that “permitting intervention would likely result in undue delay without a corresponding benefit to existing litigants, the court, or the process of reform because the existing parties are zealously pursing the same ultimate objectives as the CPC.”

Robart wrote that the CPC’s attempt to expand its role beyond that described in the settlement agreement “threatens to slow the process of reform and full implementation” of the agreement.

The 15-member CPC already has been granted a “defined and robust” role in the reform process, Robart wrote, noting that its ultimate objective ­­– “ constitutional and effective policing” — is shared by the Department of Justice.

In allowing the CPC to file memorandums, Robart granted the commission “amicus curiae” status as a friend of the court, an alternative suggested by the CPC in its request to intervene.

The CPC, as part of its motion to intervene, requested delays ranging from 31 to 120 days, which Robart reduced or denied.

Source: The Seattle Times

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Updated homeless ‘bill of rights’ passes CA legislative committee

homeless

Reposted: From The Scaramento Bee

April 23, 2013

Updated homeless ‘bill of rights’ passes CA legislative committee

An amended version of a bill that would extend new protections to California’s homeless population cleared the Assembly Judiciary Committee on Tuesday morning.

Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, framed Assembly Bill 5 as an attempt to create a statewide baseline of homeless civil rights, citing a proliferation of municipal ordinances cracking down on behavior like lying or sleeping on the sidewalk as examples of the “criminalization of poor people.”

“Today numerous laws infringe on poor peoples’ ability to exist in public space, to acquire housing, employment and basic services and to equal protection under the laws,” Ammiano said at a Tuesday morning hearing.

Ammiano’s legislation faced a backlash from critics who said the bill would sanction behavior like urinating in public while exposing businesses to new litigation, undercutting the will of voters who had passed local ordinances and handcuffing city-level efforts to deal with homelessness. The California Chamber of Commerce included AB 5 on its annual list of “job killers” because it imposes “costly and unreasonable mandates on employers.”

The amendments addressed those concerns, Ammiano and supporters of the bill argued. A widely derided provision establishing “the right to engage in life sustaining activities” including “urinating” was deleted. Another amendment jettisoned language prohibiting discrimination by business establishments.

But those changes were not enough to allay the concerns of critics like the League of California Cities, which argued that the bill still imposes onerous new requirements. Lobbyist Kirstin Kolpitcke pointed to a provision requiring governments to compile statistics on arrests and citations for offenses like loitering or obstructing sidewalks.

The bill would also bar local law enforcement from applying laws governing things like eating, sitting or panhandling in public places unless the county has satisfied a set of requirements that include a relatively low unemployment rate, a short wait for public housing and readily available public assistance.

“The city does not control the county’s numbers or what they do or do not provide,” Kolpitcke said.

Concerns also remain about the cost of the bill, which requires the State Department of Public Health to fund health and hygiene centers. At the committee hearing on Tuesday, even lawmakers who voted to move the bill underscored those qualms — committee chair Bob Wieckowski, D-Fremont, predicted a “lively discussion” when the bill goes before the Appropriations Committee.

“While I can certainly appreciate the goal and the aspiration, we all know we simply don’t have the money to be able to provide that,” Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi, D-Torrance, said of the proposed hygiene centers.

Even should that provision be stripped from the bill, it would leave the core of the legislation intact — what Jennifer Friedenbach of the San Francisco-based Coalition on Homelessness described as “making sure homeless people have a fundamental right to rest” without facing harassment.

“That does not overturn local laws,” Friedenbach told the Bee.

PHOTO CREDIT: Advocates for the homeless rally outside the State Capitol building on Tuesday The Sacramento Bee/Jeremy B. White

Read more here: http://blogs.sacbee.com/capitolalertlatest/2013/04/updated-homeless-bill-of-rights-passes-committee.html#storylink=cpy