Baltimore Uses Aggressive Tactics in Demanding Silence from Victims of Police Misconduct Who Win Settlement Claims

Thursday, October 22, 2015
(photo: lofilolo, Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Most of those who settle with the city of Baltimore over incidents of police misconduct must submit to a gag order to keep their settlements, a newspaper reported.


In one case, the city agreed to pay Ashley Overbey $63,000 after police used a stun gun on her after she had reported a burglary at her home. But after she posted comments about her case on a newspaper website, Baltimore officials withheld $31,500 of her settlement.


Overbey said she didn’t breach the agreement. “I was completely devastated,” she told The Wall Street Journal.


In 95% of police-misconduct cases, Baltimore demands silence from plaintiffs. The city’s use of gag orders appears to be more aggressive than in other cities such as Philadelphia, Boston, Fort Worth, Memphis and Minneapolis, Scott Calvert and Zusha Elinson reported for the Journal.


“Baltimore is an outlier among cities this way,” Scott Greenwood, a civil rights and police accountability lawyer in Cincinnati, told the Journal. He said the restrictions have a “chilling effect” on victims of police misconduct.


“It kind of defeats the purpose of these types of lawsuits, which is to shine a light on police misconduct,” Jeffrey Neslund, a Chicago attorney who represents plaintiffs in these cases, told the newspaper.


The city has paid $12 million in settlements and court judgments in police-misconduct cases from 2010 through 2014, according to the Journal.

-Noel Brinkerhoff, Steve Straehley


To Learn More:

Violating Baltimore’s Deal Restrictions Can Be Costly (by Scott Calvert and Zusha Elinson, Wall Street Journal)

Police Settlement Cases Rare - and Rarely Deter Misconduct (by Susan Milligan, U.S. News & World Report)

Undue Force (by Mark Puente, Baltimore Sun)

Rise in Police Brutality and Misconduct Cases Creates New Revenue Sources for Lawyers (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

Are Baltimore Police Engaged in a Low-Profile Work Slowdown to Protest Oversight? (by Steve Straehley, AllGov)

Fracking Companies Buy Silence of Families with Contaminated Water (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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