US District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania
Paul Messing & David Rudovsky (Kairys, Rudovsky, Messing & Feinberg); Seth Kreimer (University of Pennsylvania School of Law); Mary Catherine Roper (ACLU-PA)
The ACLU of Pennsylvania and the law firm of Kairys, Rudovsky, Messing & Feinberg filed a federal class action on November 4, 2010, on behalf of eight African-American and Latino men who were stopped by Philadelphia police officers solely on the basis of their race or ethnicity. The suit alleges that thousands of people each year are illegally stopped, frisked, searched, and detained by the Philadelphia Police Department as part of its stop-and-frisk policy.
On June 21, 2011, the city of Philadelphia and the ACLU announced that they had reached a settlement agreement. As part of the settlement, the Philadelphia Police Department will collect data on all stop-and-frisks and store this information in an electronic data base. It will also provide officers with necessary training and supervision with respect to stop and frisk practices. Additionally the agreement establishes a monitoring system in which the police department, plaintiffs' counsel, and an independent court-appointed monitor, Dean JoAnne A. Epps, from the Beasley School of Law at Temple University, will review and analyze the data.
Plaintiffs' counsel filed a report with the court and the monitor on March 19, 2013, which showed that the overall number of stops has decreased by nearly 15%. However, there is still a very high rate of stops and frisks - about 45% - made without reasonable suspicion. African-Americans and Latinos continue to be stopped at higher rates, with 76% of the stops and 85% of the frisks targeting minorities.
The report also includes an analysis of possession of marijuana arrests, which shows pronounced racial disparities. In late spring, a separate report will be filed with the court that focuses in greater detail on the racial disparity issue in stop-and-frisk cases.