Most arrests and searches by the police are appropriate and lawful. A few are not. A free society must have a means to hold accountable those persons selected for law enforcement work who abuse their power. G&B files lawsuits against police officers who use excessive force when making an arrest; police officers who fabricate evidence; and police officers who increase the risk of harm facing a citizen. In some instances the misconduct is an isolated act by an individual officer but in other cases it may be the result of a policy or custom of the local government. Some of our sample cases are summarized below:

Collaborative Agreement (In re. Cincinnati Policing). This class action lawsuit against the City of Cincinnati resulted in a city-wide decree prohibiting racial profiling, established use of force reforms, established the Citizens Complaint Authority to review claims of police misconduct, established the Community Police Partnering Center to promote positive civic engagement with police, implemented community problem oriented policing, and assessed progress during the five year term of the decree under contract with RAND Corporation. The reforms set a positive agenda for police reform following the April 2001 riots in Cincinnati, Ohio. Related damage actions resulted in a settlement of over four million dollars. Scott Greenwood and Kenneth Lawson were co-counsel on the case. Collaborative Agreement; Memorandum of Agreement between the U.S. Department of Justice and the City of Cincinnati;; decision denying summary judgment Carpenter v. Cincinnati; decision denying summary judgment Leisure v. Cincinnati; In re Cincinnati Policing decision approving collaborative agreement.  In March of 2011,  Al Gerhardstein and other community leaders reflected on the progress made in Cincinnati following implementation of the Collaborative Agreement.  In April 2011, an essay by Al Gerhardstein was published in Citybeat marking the 10th Anniversary of the Uprising in Cincinnati.  For further reflections, the WCPO Documentary ‘Ten Years Later: A Changed City?’ may also be of interest.

Forensic audit of the City of Cleveland Crime Lab.  Green v. City of Cleveland.  Michael Green was wrongfully convicted of rape based in part on falsified serology and hair evidence. After thirteen years in prison he was finally exonerated by the Innocence Project with DNA evidence. Our firm represented him in his state and federal court civil rights lawsuits. He won several million in damages and secured a forensic audit of the Cleveland Crime Lab. An independent expert reviewed policies of the lab and similar forensic work in other criminal cases. Co-counseled with Barry Scheck and Nick Brustin of the Innocence Project. Forensic audit of the City of Cleveland Crime Lab.

Domestic Violence Training/Memorial. Culberson v. Doan. Carrie Culberson was murdered by her violent boyfriend in 1998. Police ignored prior acts of violence. They also failed to recover her remains from a pond before they were hidden. Her body has never been recovered. The family’s lawsuit resulted in a verdict of nearly 4 million dollars. The case also resulted in the establishment of a regional domestic violence program. Training on domestic violence has been implemented. A memorial to victims of domestic violence was constructed on city hall grounds and is visible when officers come to work every day. Culberson v. Doan settlement agreement; Photos of memorial; summary judgment motions denied Culberson v. Doan 72 F.Supp.2d 865 (S.D. OH 1999) & 125 F. Supp.2d. 252 (S.D. OH 2000); motion to dismiss denied Culberson v. Doan, 65 F.Supp.2d 701 (S.D. OH 1999).

Jail Furlough Procedure Upgrade/Memorial. In re Susie Thompson.  Susie Thompson was murdered by an abusive partner who had been improperly released on furlough from the Warren County Jail. Damages were paid and jail furlough procedures were modified. Memorial for battered women constructed on grounds of Warren County Sheriff’s office and Jail. Co-Counseled with Ronald Meyer and Bill Cunningham. Photo of Memorial

Family Violence Training/Memorial.
Wilson v. City of Milford. Teenager Chris Alford was murdered by a sex offender. Prior warnings to the police about their relationship were not heeded. Damages were paid and family violence training implemented. Memorial plaque posted at police station.

Undercover Informant Reforms.
Matje v. Leis. Kathy Matje was seduced by undercover informant Lou Kahn. His entrapment of Kathy resulted in her arrest on a drug charge and her tragic suicide. Damages were paid and a consent decree entered regulating conduct of undercover informants. The family used some of the damages to establish the Civil Rights Litigation Loan Fund which provided loans for many years to others seeking to pay the expenses of civil rights cases. Police Misconduct and Civil Rights Law Report, No. 9, p.103-104 (Winter, 1985)

For more cases see resume for Alphonse A. Gerhardstein and Jennifer L. Branch

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These materials have been prepared by Gerhardstein & Branch Co. LPA for informational purposes only and are not legal advice.  This material...