February 15th, 2012 | City

Attorney in Ricci v. DeStefano files motion in new suit

The “New Haven 20” respond to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June 2009.
The “New Haven 20” respond to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June 2009. Photo by YDN.

New Haven’s fire department could soon be back in the U.S. Supreme Court, the New Haven Independent reported Wednesday.

In the landmark 2009 decision Ricci vs. DeStefano, the Supreme Court ruled that New Haven’s fire department violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 when, in 2003, it ignored the results of a test for promotion to management and chose to make no promotions for fear that the test may be racially biased, as the white candidates had performed higher on the exam than the black candidates. Now, Karen Torre, the attorney who successfully argued in front of the Supreme Court for the white firefighters, is filing a motion to intervene in the case of Michael Briscoe v. New Haven.

Briscoe, a black firefighter in the Elm City, brought the city to court because he thinks the 2003 exam did not adequately assess his qualifications. Torre says she’s intervening because the interests of the firefighters she previously represented are at stake in the current trial. She told the Independent that her motion will challenge the constitutionality of a doctrine established by the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which prohibits employment policies that negatively impact minority groups.

Judge Charles Haight issued a stay on all legal proceedings in the case so the city can file a request to have the Supreme Court consider the case, which was brought back after an initial dismissal was appealed.

Lawrence Rosenberg, a contract attorney for the city, said the Supreme Court’s decision should be clear by May, according to the Independent.