Thursday, Sep 29, 2016
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Douglas excluded from panel to monitor Cincinnati lawsuit

COLUMBUS - When Andy Douglas leaves the Ohio Supreme Court on Dec. 31, he won't be monitoring the settlement of a lawsuit that accused Cincinnati police of harassing blacks.

The four parties to the pact announced yesterday that they have chosen Saul Green, a former U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, as the monitor.

Mr. Green, an attorney with a Detroit law firm, also will oversee a separate agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice on Cincinnati police use of force.

The lawsuit - which alleged a 30-year pattern of harassment of blacks by Cincinnati police - was filed by the Ohio chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union and a civil rights group, the Cincinnati Black United Front, against Cincinnati and the local chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police.

The suit was settled in April, on the eve of the first anniversary of the fatal shooting by a white police officer of an unarmed black teen. The death of Timothy Thomas triggered the worst riots in Cincinnati since the assassination of Martin Luther King in 1968 in Memphis.

On Oct. 10, U.S. District Court Judge Susan Dlott chose Alan Kalmanoff, a California criminal-justice expert, as the monitor. After meeting with Justice Douglas, Dr. Kalmanoff agreed to add him to his 20-member team early next year.

But on Nov. 13, Dr. Kalmanoff resigned. Cincinnati city council called for his ouster after he submitted an invoice for $55,241 for about one month's work.

Mr. Green said last night that Justice Douglas won't be part of his nine-member team. Mr. Green submitted a bid with PSComm, a firm from the Washington area.

“Our team was selected intact, and there won't be any additions or subtractions,” he said.

A city hall source pointed to a Sept. 20 letter from Billy Martin, Cincinnati's general counsel, to Judge Dlott that said Mr. Green did not want to hire Justice Douglas because he “envisioned a `hands on' operational deputy position.”

Mr. Green declined to comment on that letter or Justice Douglas.

In an interview Monday, Justice Douglas, a Republican and former Toledo city councilman, said if chosen as the monitor, he would have to do the job part-time because he will become a partner next month in the Columbus law firm of Crabbe, Brown, and James.

Justice Douglas, 70, was barred by the state Constitution from running for re-election this year because of his age. He did not return a message yesterday seeking comment.

Judge Dlott has said the monitor's job required a team of experts, and Justice Douglas was the only individual who applied.

Scott Greenwood, general counsel of the ACLU of Ohio and an attorney representing the civil-rights group the Cincinnati Black United Front, noted Mr. Green's track record as U.S. Attorney in Detroit from 1994 to 2001.

“Detroit is a city with a very diverse population, and Detroit police among others had at times been accused of racial profiling and race-biased policing. Mr. Green was one of the key people in the country - not just in his area - to start raising this as an issue,” he said.

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