A federal judge has approved the settlement of our class action lawsuit with the Norman Law Firm on behalf of people alleged to have been wrongfully arrested by the Wilmington Police Department. The case alleged a police practice of transporting people to the police station and detaining them there without sufficient evidence that they committed a crime. The case further alleged that such arrests violate the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution, which requires probable cause of a crime before arrest.

"People have the right not to be arrested without probable cause that they committed a crime." —Kathleen MacRae, ACLU-DE Executive Director

As a result of the settlement, the Wilmington Police Department agreed to:

  • Revise policies and conduct new trainings about investigatory stops and arrests;
  • Require written documentation of the facts justifying every arrest; and
  • Award monetary compensation and attorneys’ fees and expenses to the plaintiffs in the case.

“People have the right not to be arrested without probable cause that they committed a crime. Beyond the personal harm caused by wrongful arrests, that style of policing is at the core of the broken trust between police and the communities they serve. Our hope is that this settlement will solve part of the wrongful arrest problem and help restore some accountability. Police officers need to be acting lawfully when putting someone in handcuffs and taking them back to the station for questioning,” said Kathleen MacRae, Executive Director of the ACLU of Delaware.

Stephen P. Norman of the Norman Law Firm further commented that “It’s been a long road over the course of six years getting to this point, I am thankful for the individual plaintiffs and class representatives who hung in there over the often-difficult long run to help accomplish social change larger than themselves. It’s been a pleasure and honor to represent them as their attorney.”

The settlement can be found here.

Attorney(s)

Ryan Tack-Hooper, ACLU of Delaware and Stephen P. Norman, Norman Law Firm

Date filed

November 21, 2013

Court

United States District Court for the District of Delaware

Judge

Hon. Gerald A. McHugh

Status

Victory!

Case number

C.A. No. 13-1966

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