Judge orders Trump law enforcement panel to halt over rule violations

A federal judge Thursday determined that a law enforcement commission ordered by President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump signs bill averting shutdown after brief funding lapse Privacy, civil rights groups demand transparency from Amazon on election data breaches Facebook takes down Trump campaign ads tying refugees to coronavirus MORE violated federal rules on open meetings and that the panel must stop all work until it complies with the law. 

U.S. District Judge John Bates said in the ruling that the 18-member Presidential Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice held private meetings without advanced notice to the public. 

The judge noted that this violated the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA), which mandates that meetings of federal “advisory committees” “must be open to the public,” “must make its records and drafts publicly available” and “must give notice of any meetings in the Federal Register at least fifteen days before the meeting is held.” 

The judge added that the commission also violated the component of FACA that states committees must be “fairly balanced” in the viewpoints represented. The 18-member law enforcement commission, which Trump ordered Attorney General William BarrBill BarrJudge orders DOJ to publish info redacted as privileged from Mueller report Mueller in rare statement pushes back on top aide’s criticism of investigation Flynn’s attorney says she recently discussed case with Trump MORE to create in October 2019, consisted exclusively of law-enforcement personnel. 

According to Politico, Barr was scheduled to receive the committee’s final report later this month. However, the judge ruled that all recommendations and activities of the commission will only be allowed to resume once the group comes into compliance with FACA’s guidelines. 

The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund filed the lawsuit against Barr, the Justice Department and the Presidential Commission in April, arguing that in addition to violating FACA, the panel was created “to support President Trump’s and Attorney General Barr’s unfounded claims that there is lack of respect for law enforcement across the United States due to recent efforts to reform the criminal justice system.” 

According to court documents, Barr established the commission in January with a stated goal to “conduct a modern fresh evaluation of the salient issues affecting American law enforcement and the communities they protect” by focusing on topics that would allow law enforcement “to safeguard the public and maintain a positive relationship with their communities.”

Barr said in a statement announcing the commission’s creation in January that the panel’s members would “study crime—how we can reduce it and how we can restore the public confidence in law enforcement to its rightful place.” 

The commission came amid increased national calls for justice reform and an end to police brutality, which have particularly increased in recent months with ongoing demonstrations following the police shootings of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and Jacob Blake.

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