LOS ANGELES - In a victory for the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California and the National Lawyers Guild, a federal judge has ordered a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) against certain practices employed by the LAPD during the so-called "probation sweeps" being conducted by police officers in the Skid Row area.
"We are very pleased with the court's ruling," said Carol Sobel, attorney with the National Lawyers Guild. "The police are on notice that, at least for the time being, they cannot trample on resident's Fourth Amendment rights - no matter where they may live."
The ACLU/SC and National Lawyers Guild filed suit in March of this year to enjoin the LAPD's practices of stopping and searching people without any reasonable suspicion that they were either on parole or probation or if they were on parole or probation, that they had violated the terms of that parole or probation during the so-called "probation sweeps" of homeless residents in the Skid Row area. The sweeps were first enacted in November of 2002, as part of Chief William Bratton's "broken windows" policy. Groups representing skid row residents maintain that the sweeps violated residents' Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure.
The ACLU/SC and National Lawyers Guild filed for a Temporary Restraining Order soon after filing the lawsuit.
Judge Nora M. Manella's order reads in part: "...the Court finds that there is a substantial likelihood that Plaintiffs will prevail on the merits of their claims that Defendants' policies, practices and customs have violated Plaintiffs' Fourth Amendment rights to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures under the guise of conducting probation and parole sweeps, without reasonable suspicion to believe that the plaintiffs are 1) on parole or probation, or 2) have violated the terms of their parole or probation..."
"I think this ruling, for the time being, sends the message to the police that 'broken windows' is not a license to break the law," said Peter Eliasberg, managing attorney with the ACLU/SC. "We've said from the beginning that sweeps that violate the rights of residents, homeless or not, are not part of the solution."