LOS ANGELES - The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals today held that nothing bars victims of LAPD misconduct and community action groups from participating in the historic consent decree negotiated between the city and the U.S. Department of Justice. In reversing the denial of permissive intervention status in the litigation United States v. City of Los Angeles by the district court, the unanimous ruling by the federal appellate court rejected arguments by the United States and City of Los Angeles that community groups and individuals should be denied party status in the case as to "streamline" the litigation. The court noted that excluding community members "should not be accomplished at the risk of marginalizing those...who have some of the strongest interests in the outcome" of the reform process.

"The integrity of the historic consent decree cannot be preserved if the ultimate stakeholders ? the communities who have suffered police abuse time and again ? are l ocked out of the enforcement process. Ten years after the civil disorders following the Rodney King verdict, the people of Los Angeles must be involved in monitoring compliance with the decree," said Mark Rosenbaum, Legal Director of the ACLU/SC who argued the case.

The Ninth Circuit's decision also reversed the denial of intervention status to the Los Angeles Police Protective League.

"We're delighted that the court recognized the importance of having community members with a stake in police reform involved in the process," said Catherine Lhamon, Staff Attorney with the ACLU/SC. "We hope and expect that Judge Feess will allow these community members to participate in the process and we look forward to seeing the police reform that has long been promised realized."

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