Erwin Chemerinsky is a prominent legal scholar specializing in issues of constitutional law. Though he has acted as a lawyer in several capacities, Erwin Chemerinsky is better known for his public commentary on a number of prominent issues.
One of his prominent public moments came in 2000, when he was asked by the Los Angeles Police Department to analyze the results of a Board of Inquiry investigation into the so-called "Rampart Scandal." This refers to a series of incidents involving corrupt LAPD officers from 1997 to 2000. The first of these was the fatal March 1997 shooting of an off-duty LAPD officer, Kevin Gaines, by another undercover officer, Frank Lyga. Lyga claimed that Gaines had threatened him and he had acted in self-defense.
The next incident took place in November 1997, when a bank robbery was linked to police officer David Mack. In February 1998, officer Brian Hewitt allegedly beat a hand-cuffed gang member, resulting in internal injuries. Hewitt was a member of the CRASH (Community Resources Against Street Hoodlums) division, part of the Rampart department. In March 1998, another officer in this division, Rafael Perez, was linked with the disappearance of more than six pounds of cocaine confiscated as police evidence. In September 1999, Perez agreed to a plea bargain. Under the terms of this plea bargain, he spent nine months detailing his knowledge of corruption in the Rampart department, implicating approximately 70 of his fellow officers in misconduct.
In response to these revelations, police chief Bernard Parks convened a Board of Inquiry to investigate the Rampart unit. Their report was issued in March 2000 and blamed poor management practices. The CRASH unit was disbanded that same month.
In September 2000, Erwin Chemerinsky completed his independent analysis of the Board of Inquiry's report. This report concluded that their report had deliberately understated and underestimated problems of corruption within the LAPD force, failed to firmly state the problems of the police force's internal culture, did not adequately consider how to institute internal reforms, did not adequately address LAPD procedures for handling cases in which officers made use of excessive force, failed to adequately consider malfunctioning internal discipline procedures, and did acknowledge problems endemic to the entire criminal justice system of the city of Los Angeles. That same month, the United States Department of Justice was given the authority by the Los Angeles City Council to supervise reforms within the LAPD for the following five years.
Following the release of this analysis by Erwin Chemerinsky, another independent review panel issued their report in November 2000. This report supported his findings, noting that the LAPD compromised its own internal investigations of disciplinary violations and was viewed by the communities it patrolled as violent and unresponsive or actively hostile.
In 2009, Erwin Chemerinsky assumed the position of founding dean at the newly formed school of law at the University of California at Irvine.