A federal judge on Wednesday guaranteed that Baltimore residents will get to have their say on the proposed consent decree between the city and the U.S. Department of Justice by denying a Trump administration request that the hearing be delayed for at least 90 days.
Thursday’s hearing will proceed as scheduled after U.S. District Judge James K. Bredar said in his order that granting the Justice Department’s request “at the eleventh hour would be to unduly burden and inconvenience the court, the other parties, and, most importantly, the public,” the Baltimore Sun reports.
From the Sun:
It was not immediately clear what the order means for the future of the police reform agreement. Bredar did not address the Justice Department’s broader argument that top officials in the new administration needed more time to review the deal, which was struck in the waning days of the Obama administration.
The hearing has been scheduled since February. Justice Department attorneys asked for the continuance in the case late on Monday, citing a new directive from Attorney General Jeff Sessions for the department to review all such agreements nationwide to assess whether they are consistent with the Trump administration’s focus on reducing crime.
As previously reported on The Root, Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Monday ordered Justice Department officials to review reform agreements that are in place with police departments across the country that have been found to have problems with their policing methods, saying the reviews are necessary to ensure that the agreements don’t run counter to the Trump administration’s goal of promoting officer safety and morale while fighting violent crime.
Sessions said in a two-page memo that agreements reached previously between the department’s Civil Rights Division and local police departments will be subject to review by his top two deputies.
While the Justice Department declined to make a comment on Bredar’s ruling, Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh said in a statement that she was “pleased” by it.
“The city of Baltimore is ready to move forward to rebuild the important relationship which exists between the community and our police department,” Pugh said in her statement.
According to the Sun, Pugh and other Baltimore officials vow that they will reform the Police Department whether the Justice Department pursues the consent decree or not.
Thursday’s hearing will begin at 9:30 a.m. at the U.S. District Court in Baltimore. Those who wish to be heard on the matter will be able to sign up to speak beginning at 9 a.m., and speakers will be heard in the order they signed up, for three minutes each.
Bredar said that while the court “hopes to hear from all who sign up,” the hearing will end at 5 p.m. regardless of whether everyone who signed up to speak has been heard.
Read more at the Baltimore Sun.