UPDATE: Fairness Hearing scheduled for 18 February, 9am.
On Thursday, 19 December, at 1pm, Federal Judge Michael Simon will set a date for a public hearing on the proposed settlement agreement between the City of Portland and the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division. Simon will make his announcement in the Mark O Hatfield U.S. Courthouse.
This past January, Amanda Marshall, U.S. Attorney for Oregon, in consultation with the defendant (City of Portland), developed these proposals for a hearing they then hoped to rush into. The DoJ took the positions the Agreement should be reviewed as “whole, rather than the individual component parts.” In other words, the Court cannot “delete, modify or substitute certain provisions;” the Agreement “must stand or fall in its entirety.”
Marshall proposed a plan where the public would submit written comments within 30 days of the hearing’s announcement. The DoJ and perpetrators (City, Police, et al) would confer, then – two weeks before the hearing – take positions on the relevancy of individual public comments.
Any member of the public, or organization, who desires to be heard at the evidentiary hearing, must have previously presented written comments, and requested to provide oral testimony. Only testimony and other evidence that is relevant, as determined by the Court, will be allowed at the hearing. The Court will determine the order of the individuals providing testimony. Each member of the public will be provided three (3) minutes to provide oral testimony. Organizations providing testimony will be limited to presenting three (3) representatives of their organization. Each representative will have three (3) minutes to testify. The Court may extend time for testimony for good cause. Testimony may be cross-examined.
It is unclear whether Judge Simon has been persuaded to confine public participation in the way the government seeks. Consult Hardesty argued for hearings far more comprehensive, HERE.
In this report to Judge Simon U.S. Attorney Marshall describes community input (Page 7) in the development of an Agreement. An ill-thought-out document was negotiated by insiders, in secret. On 26 October 2012, the DoJ and City released a draft and announced it would be presented to City Council just five days later, on 1 November. Public testimony was robust. The parties retreated behind closed doors. Marshall states, “The parties again engaged in additional negotiations regarding amendments arising from public comments and submitted a revised proposal to City Council on November 8, 2012.” What she does not disclose is that the public were then testifying on a document they’d not yet seen. (Testimony here.) City Council passed their motion to approve of the Agreement without incorporating anything submitted in a massive public turnout.
Judge Simon’s hearing will be the first time the public has had a chance to testify as to the contents of the draft that’s been under consideration since final passage by Portland City Council on 14 November.