Monitoring team overseeing MPD surveillance court case to launch website

By Published: January 08, 2019 2:53 PM CT

A new website will give the public a chance to weigh in on the city’s progress in meeting court-ordered reforms resulting from its violation of the 1978 consent decree over political surveillance.

The monitor’s website will contain all reports approved by the court, invoices and “non-sensitive” material related to the case.

No timetable has been announced for launch of the website, which also will allow the public to file complaints and comments on new policies implemented by the Memphis Police Department and other issues related to the consent decree. 

Former U.S. Attorney Ed Stanton was appointed as the independent monitor in the case, and he will lead a five-person team monitoring compliance.

The team will make sure the city and police department comply with sanctions issued by U.S. District Judge Jon P. McCalla that resulted from violating the 41-year-old consent decree through political surveillance of protesters.

The sanctions were issued by McCalla after a bench trial last August in which the Tennessee American Civil Liberties Union sued the City of Memphis for violating the consent decree. 

The sanctions include having the city provide training for officers and having the police department revise its policy on political intelligence. The revisions call for providing a clear definition of the term surveillance to make sure officers do not violate the consent decree moving forward.

Stanton was appointed monitor Dec. 21 over Bill Nettles, a former federal prosecutor from South Carolina who was the ACLU’s choice to be the monitor. Stanton was the city’s choice.

The monitoring team will provide quarterly and annual reports to the court that show the progress made by MPD toward complying with the sanctions.

The monitoring team also will work with MPD’s command staff to identify the primary person within the department who will serve as the liaison between the team and police.

“We want the court, the MPD, the ACLU-TN and the public to know what we are doing, why we are doing it and how much it costs,” according to the monitor’s plan. 

The monitoring team will submit an initial five-year budget projection for costs. It includes proposed fees of $350 per hour to be paid to the lead monitor, a deputy monitor rate at $295 and a range of $200 to $275 for other experts. Paralegal support of $175 an hour is proposed. As part of the court’s ruling, the city will pay for the monitoring costs.

The team is led by Stanton, an attorney at Butler Snow, and Jim Letten, a former U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana, who will serve as deputy monitor. Letten, an attorney with Butler Snow in New Orleans, was the nation’s longest-serving U.S. attorney until he resigned his post in 2012 amid a scandal in his office over anonymous online postings. 

John Henegan, an attorney with Butler Snow in Jackson, Mississippi, will serve as the expert on constitutional law and the First Amendment.

Theron Bowman, former police chief of Arlington, Texas, will deal with law enforcement and police practices. An expert to deal with compliance and auditing has not been hired.

Rachel Levinson-Waldman, senior counsel to the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School, is being considered as the public policy and social media expert on the team.

<strong>Ed Stanton</strong>

Ed Stanton


ACLU-TN Consent Decree Memphis
Yolanda Jones

Yolanda Jones

Yolanda Jones covers criminal justice issues and general assignment news for The Daily Memphian. She previously was a reporter at The Commercial Appeal.

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