Chavez v. IL State Police

Decision Date23 May 2001
Docket NumberNos. 99-3691 and 00-1462,s. 99-3691 and 00-1462
Citation251 F.3d 612
Parties(7th Cir. 2001) Peso Chavez and Gregory Lee, individually and on behalf of all persons similarly situated, Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. The Illinois State Police, Terrance W. Gainer, individually and in his official capacity as Director of the Illinois State Police, Michael Snyders, individually and in his official capacity as Illinois State Police Operation Valkyrie Coordinator, Edward Kresl, individually and in his official capacity as District Commander of the Illinois State Police, and Larry Thomas, Daniel Gillette, Craig Graham, Robert P. Cessna, Robert Lauterbach, and Dale Fraher, officers of the Illinois State Police, in their individual capacities, Defendants-Appellees
CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Seventh Circuit

Appeals from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. 94 C 5307--Blanche M. Manning, Judge. [Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted] Before Flaum, Chief Judge, and Bauer and Kanne, Circuit Judges.

Kanne, Circuit Judge.

In this civil rights lawsuit, a putative class action, plaintiffs claim that the drug interdiction unit of the Illinois State Police (ISP), Operation Valkyrie, has a practice of stopping, detaining, and searching African-American and Hispanic motorists based on their race and without legally sufficient cause or justification. The allegation before us, at its core, is that the ISP engages in the practice of racial profiling. Racial profiling is generally understood to mean the improper use of race as a basis for taking law enforcement action. Challenges to the practice of racial profiling have become increasingly prevalent; indeed, this suit is part of a larger effort to challenge the practice nationwide. Defendants-appellees deny that they engage in racial profiling, and claim that they instruct their officers not to use race in determining which motorists to stop, detain, and search.

Plaintiffs filed suit in August 1994, in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. Defendants included the Director of the Illinois State Police, Terrance Gainer; the ISP Operation Valkyrie Coordinator, Michael Snyders; the District Commander of the ISP, Edward Kresl; and several individual ISP troopers. Plaintiffs alleged numerous violations of their rights and sought damages as well as declaratory and injunctive relief. They based their claims upon the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment; the right to travel provided by the Privileges and Immunities Clauses of Article IV and the Fourteenth Amendment; the Fourth Amendment; Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the administrative regulations effectuating that Title; and a variety of related supplemental state law provisions. They also sought to impose supervisory liability for these violations upon several ISP personnel under 42 U.S.C. sec. 1983.

Through a series of rulings spanning the five years of litigation below, the district court dismissed the right to travel claim and granted defendants' motions for summary judgment on the equal protection and supervisory liability claims. Additionally, the court determined that plaintiffs lacked standing to obtain injunctive relief, declined to certify a class of Hispanic motorists stopped on the basis of race, denied plaintiffs' motion to add a new named plaintiff to represent the Hispanic class, and denied one of plaintiffs' discovery related motions. In response to these rulings, plaintiffs moved to voluntarily dismiss, with prejudice, their remaining claims. The court dismissed the Title VI regulatory claims pursuant to Rule 16 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, but stated that, if plaintiffs elected to dismiss their remaining claims, the court would impose reasonable costs. Plaintiffs continued to request dismissal, thus the court issued an order dismissing plaintiffs' Fourth Amendment, Title VI, and supplemental state law claims, with prejudice and pursuant to Rule 41 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

Plaintiffs now appeal the grant of summary judgment on their equal protection and supervisory liability claims, the dismissal of named plaintiff Peso Chavez's right to travel claim, the finding that they lacked standing to pursue injunctive relief, and the district court's denial of their motions to add a new plaintiff, to certify a class, and to take certain discovery. Plaintiffs also challenge the propriety of requiring them to pay defendants' costs as a precondition to dismissal.

Before we review the procedural and substantive legal challenges raised in this appeal, we will describe the Operation Valkyrie program; detail the facts surrounding the stops, detentions, and searches of each of the named plaintiffs; introduce the statistics plaintiffs have presented in their effort to show that defendants engage in racial profiling; and summarize the relevant procedural history.

I. History
A. Operation Valkyrie

The Illinois State Police run a drug interdiction program entitled "Operation Valkyrie." The program is "designed to acquaint patrol officers with techniques which will enhance their capability to detect and apprehend drug couriers . . . while focusing on the enforcement of highway safety regulations." Operation Valkyrie: An Officer's Guide to Drug Interdiction Techniques i. Since its inception in 1990, the ISP has assigned more than one hundred officers to Valkyrie teams that operate in eleven of the ISP's twenty-one districts. Non- Valkyrie officers also receive Valkyrie training in order to familiarize them with drug-interdiction techniques. Master Sergeant Michael Snyders, the former statewide Operation Valkyrie Coordinator, testified that Valkyrie officers only stop vehicles for traffic enforcement reasons (i.e. for traffic violations or other threats to traffic safety). Once a vehicle is stopped, he explained, Valkyrie officers look for indicators of drug trafficking. These indicators are numerous--indeed there is a list of twenty-eight factors in the Operation Valkyrie training manual--and include such things as too little or too much luggage for the stated length of trip, maps from drug source cities or states, and air freshener. Officers are also trained to look for verbal and non-verbal signs of stress and deception, such as nervousness and an overly friendly demeanor. Snyders testified that when Valkyrie officers observe these indicators, they are trained to request consent to search the vehicle. In 1992, Valkyrie officers requested permission to search in approximately fourteen percent of motorist stops, and when requested, over ninety-eight percent of motorists granted consent.

Plaintiffs allege that race plays into the Valkyrie officers' decision to stop a motorist--what we will term "pre-stop profiling"--and into the decision to detain or search a motorist, and that no ISP policy prohibits troopers from using race as a factor in making these determinations. As evidence of this, plaintiffs assert that certain ISP drug interdiction training materials emphasize, through statistics, images, and examples, the alleged predominance of Hispanics among those highway travelers carrying illegal drugs. They also point to the testimony of Trooper Robert Cessna, who testified that a motorist's race is one "indicator" that "you've got to keep in mind."

Plaintiffs further assert that Operation Valkyrie grants troopers substantial discretion to decide which motorists to stop and search. ISP training materials acknowledge that discretion can deteriorate into abusive practices, including racial discrimination. Plaintiffs argue that ISP procedures for addressing citizen complaints and reviewing trooper enforcement activity do not sufficiently curb an officer's ability to impermissibly take race into account. When a complaint is filed, a case number is typically assigned, a case is opened, and the complaint is processed. If, however, ISP personnel determine that a complaint is not sufficient for further investigation or that another entity is already investigating the violation, no case is opened. The ISP will not "open a case" when a citizen complains that he was stopped on the basis of race and issued a traffic citation for an offense he did not commit because the ISP views this issue as one to be resolved by the courts. See Dep. of Teresa Kettelkamp at 86-87 (former deputy director of the Division of Internal Investigation). Apparently, the ISP assumes that the motorist will go to traffic court and allege racial prejudice as a defense to the ticket. In addition, the ISP Office of Inspection and Audits does not investigate the issue of race in trooper enforcement activity.

The ISP presented evidence that Valkyrie officers are taught not to use race in determining what motorists to stop, detain, and search. The training manual for Operation Valkyrie states that the "[ISP] has never endorsed, condoned or promoted the use of any profiling system in its interdiction program." See Operation Valkyrie: An Officer's Guide to Drug Interdiction Techniques i. Training sessions also included presentment of a videotape which emphasizes that drug couriers look "pretty much like everyone else," that it is difficult to characterize smugglers on the basis of nationality, and that ISP officers must have a lawful reason to stop or search motorists.

During the early years of the Valkyrie program, some ISP districts attempted to monitor trooper discretion by collecting data on the race of motorists searched by Valkyrie troopers. One reason for collecting such data, according to Snyders, was to respond to potential questions about whether officers were targeting motorists because of their race. This data...

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