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Case: Mass. Ass'n of Afro-American Police, Inc. v.

Boston Police Dept (1985,

Mass) [app. 46-52]

Parties: Plaintiff - Mass. Ass'n of Afro-American Police, Inc.

Defendant - Boston Police Dept

Facts: Assn' of Afro American Police and the Boston police dep't were
negotiating a consent decree, which contained affirmative action provisions which
would increase the number of black police officers promoted to sergeant. White
police officers sought intervention here (because then it would be harder for them
to be promoted). They argued that the law had changed significantly since the
decree was entered into.


• Afro-American sues Boston PD for race discrimination in employment

○ Eventually the case settled, with the entry of a consent decree
§ Included goals and timetables of black officers to be promoted
§ No more that 25 on current list of eligible ppl to be promoted would
be promoted, and a new list would be created
○ White police officers want to intervene - they are on the current list
§ And the decree would deprive them of the right to be on that list,
and they would have to re-take the test, etc
□ And then other POs would be promoted rather than them because
of the decree
• Does the applicant claim an interest relating to the object or transaction which
is the subject of the suit?
○ Yes
• Is the applicant so situated that disposition as a practical matter may impair
or impede their rights?
○ They claim their right to be promoted will be impeded
○ If so what's the right thing for the P's to do? - MAYBE
§ They would have to sue the winner of this case on the grounds that
they will do something that violate their rights
§ There wont be a star decisis problem b/c parties agreed to do
○ Might have been possible to throw them out on these grounds - nothing
that's happened in this action will impair rights, b/c there's been no ???
§ They didn’t throw it out, b/c then it would seem like they would be
bound by the decree - b/c no one can be bound to a decree to which they weren't a
party to the suit
○ Winning argument - may not have a legal effect, but as a practical matter,
worse off suing them after court has agreed to the decree than before this has
been issued
• White officers without a friend here, so they are not being adequately
• What happened here is that under the rule, they meet requirements of it
○ BUT COURT DENIES - why? Based on merits, intervention shouldn’t be allowed
§ What did all he courts in the Mass courts discuss?
□ Whether in fact these white officers have a winning claim on
their position of the decree that it was erroneous
® In Atlantis, they avoided looking at the merits, but
still consistent
◊ (judge says in atlantis) It is conceivable that
there will be some instances in which the total lack of merit is so evident from
the face of the moving papers that denial of the right of intervention rests upon
a complete lack of a substantial claim
◊ Here, Sound admin, and no violation of due process
b/c no merits as a matter of law
► In atlantis, the merits was based on the
facts, and so the parties should be entitled to dispute
◊ So both cases are consistent - decision of Mass
court to deny intervention on basis on complete lack of substantial claim, b/c the
issue of the substantial claim was based on a matter of law
• You want to apply Rule 24, but don’t stop there - in all cases, does this make
○ Nothing wrong with determining that although reqs of rule satisfied, but
still deny b/c of equity, etc.
○ Should makes sense, is just, is equitable, lead to sound admin and results
in addition to Rule 24a