Attorney General Loretta Lynch described the sweeping Baltimore police reform document she signed yesterday as a “legally binding” deal that will survive a Trump administration, even over any objections of the new president and his Justice Department. “This agreement will live on,” Lynch said. “It is court-enforceable. There is an independent monitor and it will live on.” Others aren’t so sure, reports the Baltimore Sun. Sen. Jeff Sessions, the Alabama Republican nominated by Donald Trump to replace Lynch, expressed skepticism this week about the use of consent decrees to address civil rights abuses in policing.
A federal judge will oversee the implementation of the agreement. Legal analysts say the Trump administration, if it chose, could employ any of several tactics to undermine it: advocating for a monitor who opposed reforms, declining to seek the decree’s enforcement, or expressing a starkly different philosophy of criminal justice in court. “The change of administration is everything to the relevance of the consent decree,” said Baltimore lawyer Steven Levin, a former federal prosecutor. “From a practical perspective, it’s not at all clear why taxpayers should be spending money on a monitor who would send reports to a president who would throw their report in a drawer.” Activists and legal analysts say it was important for Lynch and Mayor Catherine Pugh to get the deal entered into the federal court system before Trump took office.