U.S. District Court Judge Thelton Henderson is running out of patience. In a Nov. 14 order, he has given the city of Oakland just two more weeks to reach an agreement with the very same folks who sued the city over police misconduct during the Riders scandal.
After that, it looks quite possible that he will appoint a federal receiver to run the police department, a takeover that would be unprecedented in the United States.
But University of California Berkeley law professor Franklin Zimring says the judge is sincerely eager for some way to avoid taking over the department.
"There is no real subtlety to the impatience that the court is expressing," said Zimring. "But what Judge Henderson is doing here is acknowledging the administrative difficulties that would be involved with a receivership and trying to dodge that bullet by getting some real negotiated change."
The city has until Nov. 29 to reach an agreement with the plaintiffs in the civil rights lawsuit against it. After that, Henderson has scheduled a Dec. 13 hearing on whether to appoint a federal receiver who would run the department.