Class-Action Lawsuit Seeks Permanent Suspension of the Milwaukee Police Department’s Alleged Unconstitutional Policies, Practices, and Customs

Posted on Categories Civil Rights, Constitutional Law, Criminal Law & Process, Human Rights, Milwaukee, Public, Race & Law, Student ContributorLeave a comment» on Class-Action Lawsuit Seeks Permanent Suspension of the Milwaukee Police Department’s Alleged Unconstitutional Policies, Practices, and Customs

This semester in Professor Lisa Mazzie’s Advanced Legal Writing: Writing for Law Practice seminar, students are required to write one blog post on a law- or law school-related topic of their choice. Writing blog posts as a lawyer is a great way to practice writing skills, and to do so in a way that allows the writer a little more freedom to showcase his or her own voice, and—eventually for these students—a great way to maintain visibility as a legal professional. Here is one of those blog posts, this one written by 3L Andrea Jahimiak.

On February 22, 2017, six individuals who identify as either Black or Latino filed a class‑action lawsuit against the City of Milwaukee, the Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission (“FPC”), and Police Chief Edward Flynn. The plaintiffs allege that their constitutional rights were violated when they were unlawfully stopped, frisked, or both, by Milwaukee Police Department (“MPD”) officers.

Together, the plaintiffs are seeking relief by way of the court: (1) declaring that the defendants’ stop and frisk policies, practices, and customs are unconstitutional; and, (2) ordering immediate and permanent suspension of such policies, practices, and customs.

Allegation of a Named Plaintiff

One of the plaintiffs alleged that her teenage son has been unlawfully stopped by an MPD officer on at least three occasions. The first unlawful stop took place when he was ten years old.

Around noon in October 2010, D.A. walked to his friend’s home. When D.A. arrived at his friend’s home, he rang the doorbell, but no one answered. D.A. then used his cellphone to call his friend.

While on the phone, an MPD officer walked up to D.A., put his arms around D.A. shoulder’s and walked D.A. to his squad car located in the nearby alley. The officer then forcibly removed D.A.’s phone from him, patted him down, and made D.A. put his hands on the hood of the squad car.

The father of D.A.’s friend, a white male, ran out of the home. The father immediately asked the officer what was going on and asked why he was searching a child. The officer replied that he was making sure nothing was wrong. The officer then left.

D.A.’s mother called the associated MPD district and spoke to the sergeant. D.A.’s mother demanded to know why a police officer stopped and frisked her ten-year-old son. The sergeant said that it was MPD policy to stop and frisk young men walking through alleys.

Expert Reports Confirming MPD

Almost a year after filing suit, the ACLU of Wisconsin released three expert reports regarding the MPD’s stop and frisk policies, practices, and customs. The expert reports were conducted in relation to the ongoing class‑action lawsuit.

The expert reports concluded that the MPD has unconstitutional policies, practices, and customs. And that MPD officers routinely conduct unconstitutional stops and frisks procedures, motivated by race and ethnicity. Continue reading “Class-Action Lawsuit Seeks Permanent Suspension of the Milwaukee Police Department’s Alleged Unconstitutional Policies, Practices, and Customs”

Prominent Sociologist Spotlights Community Organizations’ Role in Crime Reduction

Posted on Categories Criminal Law & Process, Lubar Center, Milwaukee, Milwaukee Area Project, Public, Speakers at MarquetteLeave a comment» on Prominent Sociologist Spotlights Community Organizations’ Role in Crime Reduction

America’s cities overall have experienced a remarkable decline in crime that began in the 1990s and that has brought improvements in civic life in some surprising ways.

But the strategies that played a significant part in reducing crime – including stop and frisk policing and mass incarceration – are fading, and different approaches are needed to sustain safety improvements.

And the strategies that should be pursued include building up the number and resources of community organizations that serve in many different ways to increase the quality of life in neighborhoods and doing as much as possible to encourage residents to take roles in helping that quality of life.

A leading figure in American thinking on how to improve the quality of life in urban areas presented that provocative perspective at a conference at Eckstein Hall on Wednesday. Patrick Sharkey, a professor of sociology at New York University, told an audience including leaders of many Milwaukee non-profit organizations that research and data back-up his assertion that such organizations are valuable. There is “really strong evidence” to show the value of community organizations, he said. Continue reading “Prominent Sociologist Spotlights Community Organizations’ Role in Crime Reduction”

Marisa Cuellar Zane Named Public Interest Law Fellow for Estate-Planning Program

Posted on Categories Marquette Law School, Milwaukee, Pro Bono, PublicLeave a comment» on Marisa Cuellar Zane Named Public Interest Law Fellow for Estate-Planning Program

Marisa Cuellar Zane joins Marquette University Law School as the public interest law fellow in the Office of Public Service. In her new role, Marisa will further develop the Marquette Volunteer Legal Clinic’s (MVLC) estate-planning services. The MVLC is committed to helping low-income people navigate their estate-planning options by empowering clients with useful information. In 2017, the MVLC’s House of Peace and Veterans Service Office locations helped 75 people establish estate plans.

The need for estate-planning services is often overlooked in communities with low incomes and relatively lower-value assets. Yet in Milwaukee’s low-income communities, owning a home is not uncommon. Planning is essential to keep a home, usually a family’s largest asset, in the family. Advance planning also can include assigning an agent for making financial and healthcare decisions in order to avoid adult guardianship proceedings in court should infirmities arise down the road. Continue reading “Marisa Cuellar Zane Named Public Interest Law Fellow for Estate-Planning Program”

Leader Offers Bold Vision for Renewing Historic Harbor Area

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Lilith Fowler says she is “a fixer-upper” type of person. That’s true whether she’s dealing with a home or a neighborhood – or big challenges that can have impact on an entire metropolitan area. A few years ago, she was the first executive director of Menomonee Valley Partners, a non-profit that played a valuable role in the revitalization of a big swatch of land near the heart of the city.

She has taken on a new challenge: Catalyzing a boom in the area around Milwaukee’s harbor, about 1,000 acres that is in large part unused or underused now, with many environmental challenges. The area can roughly be described as lying on either side of the southern stretch of the Hoan Bridge. The goal is to bring to the area the kind of appealing development that has come to nearby areas such as the Third Ward and Bay View.

In an “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” program in the Lubar Center of Eckstein Hall on Thursday, Fowler, executive director of Harbor District, Inc., a new and still-small non-profit, summarized the state of the area now (pretty used up) and offered visions, both in words and slides, of what the area could be (pretty beautiful, with a lot of river walks and promenades, as well as mixed commercial and residential development). Continue reading “Leader Offers Bold Vision for Renewing Historic Harbor Area”

Flynn Adamantly Defends Police Department and His Work as He Retires as Chief

Posted on Categories Civil Rights, Criminal Law & Process, Milwaukee, Public, Speakers at MarquetteLeave a comment» on Flynn Adamantly Defends Police Department and His Work as He Retires as Chief

Near the end of their hour-long conversation, Mike Gousha asked outgoing Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn what was next for him.

“Really nothing much,” Flynn said. He’s going to go back to Virginia where his family lives and spend  more time with his children and grandchildren. Maybe he’ll do some consulting ahead. But, first, “I do need to de-stress a little bit, despite how relaxed I’m appearing.”

The line got a big laugh from the audience in the Lubar Center at Eckstein Hall for the “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” on Feb. 8. As he finished a decade as Milwaukee’s police chief, Flynn was fired up, outspoken, and more than a bit emotional and angry. Continue reading “Flynn Adamantly Defends Police Department and His Work as He Retires as Chief”

Lake Michigan and the Chicago Megacity in the 21st Century

Posted on Categories Environmental Law, Lubar Center, Marquette Law School, Milwaukee, Public, Speakers at Marquette, Water LawLeave a comment» on Lake Michigan and the Chicago Megacity in the 21st Century

I have previously written in this space about the difficult water policy issues facing “megacities,” generally defined as cities with a population of over ten millA photo of the cover of Marquette Lawyerion people. Meanwhile, the Law School, working in partnership with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, has taken an increasing role and interest in studying various aspects of the “Chicago Megacity,” the region stretching from the Milwaukee area, across metropolitan Chicago, and into northwest Indiana. For example, see hereherehere, and here for discussion of a variety of issues such as economic development, transportation, and education.

We are excited to announce that on April 17, the Law School and the Journal Sentinel will continue those efforts, hosting a conference titled “Lake Michigan and the Chicago Megacity in the 21st Century.” The event is free and open to the public, but advanced registration is required; find out more and register at this link. More details about the conference follow.

Continue reading “Lake Michigan and the Chicago Megacity in the 21st Century”

Future of Milwaukee and Local Hispanics Is Linked, UCC Leader Says

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Ricardo Diaz says he is paid to give solutions, not to get discouraged by the problems. And solutions and generally optimistic views about the future of the Hispanic population in the Milwaukee area are what he offered in an “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” program Thursday in the Lubar Center of Eckstein Hall.

Diaz is executive director of the United Community Center, a booming, multi-faceted operation on the South Side that offers services for everyone from pre-schoolers to the elderly, including an art center, a fitness center, a restaurant, a treatment center for people with Alzheimer’s, and a highly-praised youth music program. It is perhaps best known for its Bruce-Guadalupe Community School, a kindergarten through grade charter school with 1,300 students and a record as one of the brightest lights on the Milwaukee education scene.

Gousha, the Law School’s distinguished fellow in law and public policy, asked Diaz what the overall goal of the UCC is. “Simply, getting Hispanics into the middle class,” Diaz replied. And he said there is progress in doing that.   Continue reading “Future of Milwaukee and Local Hispanics Is Linked, UCC Leader Says”

Entrepreneurs Say They’re Bullish on Milwaukee, But Startup Scene Needs More

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Just the fact that the second annual Startup Week Milwaukee will begin on Monday, Nov. 6, along with the first Startup Week Wisconsin (with programs in nine cities, plus Milwaukee), says that there is increasing energy and importance attached to launching businesses and encouraging entrepreneurs here.

At least business start-ups are creating more buzz around Wisconsin these days than they did for many years.

But there is a lot to be done to make the entrepreneurial climate comparable to that of some other places. In recent years, both Milwaukee and Wisconsin have been near the bottom of rankings for business startups.

Thoughts on both the increased momentum for startups and what needs to be done to move things farther were offered Thursday in an “On the Issue with Mike Gousha” program at the Lubar Center in Eckstein Hall. Three entrepreneurs involved in startups in the Milwaukee area described evidence that the landscape is improving. They said they expect that by several years from now, the rankings for Milwaukee and Wisconsin will be more encouraging. Continue reading “Entrepreneurs Say They’re Bullish on Milwaukee, But Startup Scene Needs More”

Lubar Center and Its New Milwaukee Area Project Launched at Law School Conference

Posted on Categories Marquette Law School Poll, Milwaukee, Public, Speakers at MarquetteLeave a comment» on Lubar Center and Its New Milwaukee Area Project Launched at Law School Conference

Tuesday was a huge day for the future of the Milwaukee area, if you think developing strong, extensive knowledge on major issues is important and if you think coming together to work on dealing with those issues is important. Just ask R. T. Rybak.

Rybak, president/CEO of the Minneapolis Foundation and former mayor of Minneapolis, was the keynote speaker at a morning-long conference in the Lubar Center at Marquette Law School, which included  the debut of the Milwaukee Area Project, a long-term research project that will be part of the new Lubar Center for Public Policy Research and Civic Education.

The conference included ceremonies thanking Milwaukee philanthropists Sheldon and Marianne Lubar for the $7 million in grants that are providing an endowment to support the work of the public policy center. Continue reading “Lubar Center and Its New Milwaukee Area Project Launched at Law School Conference”

Bucks Exec Emphasizes Team’s Community Goals in “On the Issues” Program

Posted on Categories Milwaukee, Public, Speakers at Marquette, Sports & LawLeave a comment» on Bucks Exec Emphasizes Team’s Community Goals in “On the Issues” Program

Yes, the owners of the Milwaukee Bucks have big goals for their basketball team, including ultimately an NBA championship. But they also have big goals for spurring positive developments in Milwaukee, not only in the immediate area of their new arena downtown but more broadly.

“We’re trying to do our part as a good corporate citizen,” Alex Lasry, senior vice-president of the Bucks, said at an “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” program at Marquette Law School on Thursday.

Lasry, the son of Marc Lasry, one of the lead owners of the National Basketball Association franchise, emphasized the community involvement goals of the team. That starts with the arena and surrounding developments, including a practice facility, parking structure, and entertainment district. More development will come after the current arena, Bradley Center next door, is razed and land needed for construction purposes is freed up, Lasry said. He said the team was talking about $1 billion in total spending in the immediate area.

Public funding of the arena project, totaling more than $250 million in state and local money, is one reason the team is strongly committed to having a broader positive impact on Milwaukee, he said. But it goes beyond that.

Lasry said the chance to do more than just own a team was one of the big draws for his father and Wes Edens, the other major figure in the purchase of the team from Sen Herb Kohl in 2014.

“When my dad and Wes were buying the team, my dad had been looking to buy a team for about 10 years before he bought the Bucks,” Alex Lasry told Gousha. “He looked at the Sixers, he looked at the Hawks, he looked at a few teams, and was never quite able to pull the trigger on something.

“And I think when they came here, what they saw was not only a chance to own a basketball team, which had always been a life-long dream and has been really cool, but they saw a chance to re-think what a major part of a downtown could be. They saw a chance to actually develop 30 acres of a downtown in a major city, which I don’t know if a lot of you know, but you don’t actually get to do that in a lot of cities, where you kind of get a blank slate for 30 acres in a downtown.”

Describing the reach of what is going on in the immediate area of the arena, which is slated to open a year from now, Lasry said, “What we’re doing right there is exactly what we wanted to do and exactly what we promised, which is create real economic development and not just create an arena on an island, which is kind of what the Bradley Center is right now.”

The team’s community goals also include paying comparatively high wages for all the jobs connected to games; setting – and meeting – ambitious goals for hiring city residents and contracting with businesses owned by minority members and women during construction and beyond; and supporting economic development and community causes such as working with schools and youth organizations. He said the team wants its impact to reach beyond the arena area into neighborhoods across the city.

Lasry, who owns a home in Milwaukee and who has become involved in a list of civic groups, spoke highly of the city. Milwaukee has needs, he said, but the city has “incredible bones,” including a beautiful location and major universities. And then there are the people. “If you give Milwaukee 100 percent, Milwaukee will turn around and give you 200 percent,” he said.

”There is no reason it (Milwaukee) shouldn’t be able to match any big city,” he said. And the Bucks want to be a key part of that.

To watch the one-hour program, click here.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Milwaukee’s Property Tax Heavy Revenue System Needs Change, Researcher Says

Posted on Categories Milwaukee, Public, Speakers at MarquetteLeave a comment» on Milwaukee’s Property Tax Heavy Revenue System Needs Change, Researcher Says

The City of Milwaukee stands out among its peers when it comes to the structure for financing government functions. And that’s not a good thing.

A new report from the Public Policy Forum, a non-partisan Milwaukee non-profit that researches government issues, finds that Milwaukee receives a higher share of its revenue to run city government from property taxes than any other city among 39 in America with populations between 300,000 and 1 million. And Milwaukee stands alone by a wide margin.

Other cities have more tools for collecting revenue than Milwaukee, including sales taxes, local income taxes and entertainment taxes, Rob Henken, president of the policy forum, said at an “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” program at Marquette Law School on Wednesday. That leaves Milwaukee overly reliant on two ways of paying for public service — property taxes and state aid payments that have been effectively shrinking. Continue reading “Milwaukee’s Property Tax Heavy Revenue System Needs Change, Researcher Says”

Richard Florida Calls for Spreading the Success of “Urban Revival”

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Richard Florida describes himself as a thinker. “I sit in a little room with a computer and think thoughts and write them down,” he told a capacity audience or more than 200 in the Lubar Center of Marquette Law School during an “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” program on Thursday.

But his thoughts have made him an influential and widely-followed analyst of the trends shaping urban life in North America. His 2002 book, The Rise of the Creative Class, predicted that there would be a surge of vitality in cities where creative people – tech innovators, artists, entrepreneurs, and so on  – clustered.

“I really under-predicted,” Florida told Gousha. In following years there was “an urban revival on steroids.”

The trends he foresaw have shown up in Milwaukee. “It’s amazing what’s happened here,” Florida said, mentioning some of the things he had done and seen since arriving the previous day. “Milwaukee has done a fabulous job of reinventing itself.”

But the boom in urban living and economic vitality has brought with it downsides, Florida said. All you need to know is the title to his new book to catch his concerns: The New Urban Crisis: How Our Cities Are Increasing Inequality, Deepening Segregation, and Failing the Middle Class – and What We Can Do About It. Continue reading “Richard Florida Calls for Spreading the Success of “Urban Revival””