Donald Trump’s Presidential Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice lost another member on Thursday when a Kansas prosecutor requested that the Department of Justice remove his name from a report addressing police reform recommendations, Reuters reported.
According to the report, Kansas’s Wyandotte County District Attorney Mark Dupree penned a letter of resignation to U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr saying he believed the commission’s work was “smothered by a pernicious political agenda.”
The Commission was created earlier this year in order to study law enforcement and criminal justice issues, then make recommendations to the attorney general and president on how to better address crime, assist victims, and increase “respect for the law.” Dupree’s letter, a copy of which was viewed by Reuters, also expressed concerns over the commission’s refusal to address systemic racism in the criminal justice system. Dupree, who is Black, is the second member of the commission to have resigned while a third has said the DOJ is refusing to take the concerns of all parties involved in its operation seriously.
As previously reported by Law&Crime, a federal judge in Washington, D.C. ruled in October that the commission was operating in violation of a several facets of federal statutory law, prohibiting it from even releasing reports and other work product until the myriad violations were remedied.
The 45-page ruling from George W. Bush-appointed Senior U.S. District Judge John Bates reasoned that the commission’s composition—consisting exclusively of current and former law enforcement officials—and a lack of transparency violated multiple provisions of the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA). Barr had stacked the commission’s 18 members exclusively with law enforcement professionals who were employed as police, prosecutors or federal officials while none had any background in criminal defense, civil rights, academia, or social work areas.
Under FACA, federal advisory committees are legally required to be “fairly balanced” in the viewpoints represented and their meetings must be open to the public. The NAACP Legal Defense Fund (LDF) in April sued the administration after Barr ignored its request to appoint additional commissioners that would help balance the law enforcement-only viewpoints of the commission’s make-up. LDF suggested including civil rights leaders, public health experts, and academics.
Judge Bates said earlier this month that the commission would be permitted to release its final policing reforms report on the condition that it be marked with a disclaimer stating that the commission broke the law in failing to be “fairly balanced” in its members and not giving the public “timely notice” of its meetings.
The disclaimer must read as follows:
Although the Commission which prepared this Report was subject to the Federal Advisory Committee Act (“FACA”), 5 U.S.C. app. 2, a United States District Court judge has found that the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) and the Commission’s officers violated FACA in forming and operating the Commission. In particular, DOJ and the Commission did not comply with FACA’s requirements to ensure the Commission’s membership is fairly balanced in terms of the points of view represented, file a charter, select a designated federal officer, or provide timely notice of meetings in the Federal Register. For additional detail, the remedial order of the United States District Court that issued this decision is attached to the Commission’s Report.
The LDF is also seeking a court order requiring the commission to make all drafts of the report and internal communications available to the public.
[image via Drew Angerer/Getty Images.]
Have a tip we should know? [email protected]