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In Memoriam: Perman Glenn III

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Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Valley lost a fierce advocate for civil rights last week with the death of Springfield attorney Perman Glenn III.

The 50-year-old Glenn—who died in an apparent accident while vacationing in the Dominican Republic—was a defense attorney perhaps best known for his work on a number of high-profile police misconduct cases. They included the case of Douglas Greer, a Springfield school principal who filed a complaint alleging that he was roughed up in 2004 by city cops who found him in the midst of a medical seizure and apparently thought he was on drugs, and Louis Jiles, an 18-year-old Springfield man who was shot by city police during a traffic stop in 2008.

Greer eventually won a $180,000 settlement from the Mass. Commission Against Discrimination. The Jiles case was settled last year, with the city paying an undisclosed amount of money to Jiles but admitting no wrongdoing or liability by the city or the officers involved.

Glenn not only handled individual cases of alleged police brutality; he was also an outspoken critic of the handling of such cases by city officials, and repeatedly called for the city of Springfield to establish an effective civilian review board, one that didn't rely on internal SPD investigations and that had the power to punish officers found guilty of misconduct. "The issue is that the city of Springfield is turning a blind eye to what the police are doing," Glenn told the Advocate a couple of years ago. "When you have that kind of indifference, that could amount to a civil rights violation."

While Glenn's criticisms of the police department and City Hall didn't especially endear him to many in Springfield's establishment, he had plenty of admirers among the city's legal and activist communities. In a Springfield Republican article reporting his death, one city cop who bumped heads with Glenn on a regular basis offered words of respect and condolence. "He always had a smile on his face, always went out of his way to shake my hand," SPD spokesman Sgt. John Delaney told the newspaper. "He respected that I had a job to do, and I respected that he did."

Glenn lived in Northampton and is survived by his wife and four children.

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