NEW ORLEANS -- The city of New Orleans is asking a judge to toss out a federal consent decree over the police department, alleging misconduct on the part of the U.S. Department of Justice.
The city claims the feds acted in "bad faith," misled the city on several issues related to the consent decree, and has a “pattern of misrepresenting facts.”
City attorneys cite the role of disgraced former prosecutor Sal Perricone and financial issues, among other claims.
Federal judge Susie Morgan approved the consent decree earlier this month over the city's objections.
Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s administration filed its motion Thursday evening, just meeting the deadline for objections. In the 1,700-page filing, the administration lays out its argument for the dismissal of the decree over the New Orleans Police Department.
The city alleges that the U.S. Department of Justice’s use of now-disgraced, former federal prosecutor Sal Perricone tainted the process. Perricone, a former NOPD cop, was a point-person for then-U.S. Attorney Jim Letten’s office during the negotiations
Perricone, who coined the term “aorta of corruption” for the NOPD’s off-duty paid detail system, had previously submitted his resume and applied to become the superintendent of the NOPD, the city claims. Later, he was embroiled in the online commenting scandal at the U.S. Attorney’s Office after posting numerous anonymous, pointed barbs on NOLA.com, including several slams of the NOPD and its chief.
“The city did not know the extent to which Mr. Perricone would go to undermine the NOPD and Superintendent Serpas when it sat across the table from him and negotiated the consent decree in good faith,” attorneys wrote.
Also, the city claims the DOJ’s proposed reforms on the NOPD’s off-duty paid-detail system may actually violate federal labor standards.
Further, the city claims the U.S. Department of Justice was underhanded in juggling separate investigations into the NOPD and the Orleans Parish Prison. The DOJ knew of the city’s financial constraints, yet “hit the city” with the price tag on separate, unrelated prison reforms only after the NOPD agreement was signed.
Those jail reforms are part of a federal investigation and proposed consent decree regarding Sheriff Marlin Gusman’s office and Orleans Parish Prison. The city is also fighting those reforms, with funding at the center of that fight.
The city claims “it can ill afford excessive costs in light of its financial limitations.”
And from outset of negotiations, the city had requested financial assistance from DOJ. “These requests fell on deaf ears,” attorneys wrote in the filing.
In July, Landrieu and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder were all smiles in announcing that an agreement was reached on the consent decree. They lauded each other’s agencies, and Landrieu repeatedly noted it was he who, just days into his tenure as mayor, invited the feds to investigate. The investigation was going to take place regardless, but Landrieu’s cooperation helped expedite the process.
Last July, Landrieu estimated the decree would cost New Orleans $11 million. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has said the government would offer support via available federal grants and advice, but the full tab is ultimately the city's responsibility.
In the latest court filing, city also takes issue with Judge Morgan’s decision to sign the original consent decree filed into court.
The latest motion claims that there were “previous assertions” that she would not sign that original document without revisions. Morgan also allegedly refused the city’s earlier request to withdraw from the pending consent decree.