Patterico's Pontifications

8/4/2009

No Pot of Gold in Police Shooting

Filed under: Court Decisions,Crime,General — Jack Dunphy @ 3:08 pm

[Guest post by Jack Dunphy]

Yesterday, Superior Court Judge Rolf M. Treu dismissed a lawsuit against the Los Angeles Police Department as the case was about to go to the jury for deliberations. The action was brought by Lorena Lopez, mother of 1½-year-old Suzie Pena, who was killed in July 2005 as her father, Raul Pena, exchanged gunfire with police in South Los Angeles. Raul Pena was using his daughter as a human shield when both she and he were killed by police gunfire. I discussed the incident and its immediate aftermath here, at National Review Online.

Judge Treu granted a defense motion for a dismissal, ruling that the jury could only have reached the conclusion that the officers had acted properly. The defense presented a number of expert witnesses while the plaintiffs offered only one, retired LAPD commander Paul Kim, who, judging from his long but otherwise undistinguished police career, isn’t much of an expert on anything.

The below photo, from the L.A. Times website, shows City Attorney Carmen Trutanich and members of his staff reacting to the judge’s decision.

Trutanich1

The photo inspired many people to leave comments voicing their displeasure that Trutanich should react so gleefully when, after all, a little girl had been killed. I’m sure Mr. Trutanich would rather his picture not been taken at that moment, but was he wrong to be pleased that the city of Los Angeles and the involved police officers had been spared from a multi-million-dollar judgment? Of course not. His lawyers worked hard, performed well, and achieved a just outcome. Suzie’s tragic death, and the less-than-tragic death of her father, did not produce a pot of gold for her mother and her lawyers.

–Jack Dunphy

106 Responses to “No Pot of Gold in Police Shooting”

  1. Some years ago, I was involved in the care of a little girl who was attacked by a mountain lion in Orange County. She survived with good medical care, most of which I was not involved with but I had admitted her and saw the damage first hand. She was telling me, as I worked to stabilize her, that the lion tried to eat her while I looked at her exposed brain. She was five at the time. About a year later, the mother approached me and asked if I would participate in a lawsuit she was filing against the county because they didn’t warn people about the mountain lions. I told her that I was happy her daughter was doing better but I wouldn’t be willing to get involved because I didn’t think the county did anything wrong. She eventually settled for a fairly large sum and the daughter has gone on with her life. My own daughter actually became quite involved with the family and they are nice people. I just don’t know why everything bad that happens is a tort.

    Mike K (addb13)

  2. I don’t know that I would shoot through a little girl to save my life.

    nk (8200d5)

  3. I suspect that it is a decision that haunts those that did it, nk.

    SPQR (5811e9)

  4. boot licking authoritarians win against idiotarian lawsuit abusers!

    [note: fished from spam filter]

    daleyrocks (718861)

  5. I imagine the guy who fired the shot that ended up hitting the girl thought he’d manage to hit the murderous bastard that was using a baby as a shield so he could kill more cops. He was wrong– no way to know if his aim was off, if the scumbag moved the kid, what.

    I want to know why the heck the mother didn’t take a tire iron to the bastard’s head the second she thought he might pull this garbage.

    Foxfier (db0f51)

  6. nk,

    I think the reports said Pena was shooting at the officers and his stepdaughter. I don’t think the police could let Pena target them and not try to stop him.

    DRJ (8d138b)

  7. As someone who participates in tactical drills similating shooting a “bad guy” who is shielding himself behind a hostage, I can tell you that even in the luxury of a range situation where nobody is shooting back, the hostage sometimes gets hit.
    I would think that those officers did all they could to not shoot that little girl, but the firefight was not their choice, but one that was thrust upon them.
    The death of this young girl is completely upon the actions of her father, may he roast in Hell!

    AD - RtR/OS! (03e729)

  8. nk: The officers could not see that Raul Pena was holding his daughter during the final phase of the gunfight. Rounds were exchanged through a wall and then through a cloud of smoke.

    Jack Dunphy (38fbdf)

  9. “The officers could not see that Raul Pena was holding his daughter”

    that makes a lot of sense, sadly. It’s hard to see all the details of a situation when you’re being shot at.

    Juan (bd4b30)

  10. Yes, it is unfortunate that this couldn’t have been conducted on a sound-stage at Disney.

    AD - RtR/OS! (03e729)

  11. But imagine if you could see that a bastard was using his kid as a human shield, while shooting as his other kid, or other cops, or some combination.

    What do you do?

    Saddam used human shields, with help from the democrats in the USA who provided a few American human shields. Bush decided to go ahead and accept casualties and innocent and guilty deaths. These cops probably would have as well. It’s a horrible decision to have to make, though.

    Juan (bd4b30)

  12. These cops probably would have as well.

    What would be the reasoning behind knowingly shooting the bastard through the innocent kid he was using as a human shield?

    Really? I’d be interested to hear it.

    spart (ebb300)

  13. The police were obviously abusing their power – let’s go to Radley and his butt boys for a ruling.

    daleyrocks (718861)

  14. Bootlicking authoritarian racist jack-booted thugs, all of you.

    What fluffy said, fart.

    JD (f96a20)

  15. What would be the reasoning behind knowingly shooting the bastard through the innocent kid he was using as a human shield?

    I’m going out on a limb here – Officer Jack can correct me if I’m wrong – but I think it would be along the lines of “Shit, I’m being shot at, I need to make him stop.”

    Scott Jacobs (d027b8)

  16. People resort to the human shield tactic because it often works, esp. against Americans and Israelis. The only way to discourage it is to remove the incentive, somehow.

    LarryD (2593bd)

  17. Caterpillars are a good deterrent.

    JD (f96a20)

  18. “Really? I’d be interested to hear it.”

    spart – Venture a guess. You like to pretend you’re an intelligent commenter.

    daleyrocks (718861)

  19. “Shit, I’m being shot at, I need to make him stop.”

    By shooting the kid to get to him?

    You like to pretend you’re an intelligent commenter.

    I like to pretend that I’m engaged in a dialogue with other intelligent commenters, but with comments like yours I have to wonder.

    spart (ebb300)

  20. wrt the American human shields in Iraq.
    They wanted to shield, among other things, orphanages. As Mark Steyn pointed out, the orphanages already had human shields “technically known as orpans”.
    Saddaam wanted the oxygen-wasters to shield ammo dumps and barracks and such like.
    Both knew they could trust the Americans not to bomb orphanages. The American shields could stand there in perfect safety and come home to pose.
    Once the lefties found out what they were supposed to be shielding, they decided that they MIGHT BE KILLED and that would never do.
    So they came home.

    If the ballistics tests can identify the cop whose round killed the little girl, I wouldn’t want to be him for a pension.

    Richard Aubrey (ed6f53)

  21. Wow, spart shows up here too? It’s been dropping turds over at Ace of Spades for the past week or so.

    Techie (482700)

  22. Turds?

    Pearls of wisdom Techie, pearls of wisdom.

    spart (ebb300)

  23. Wow. What a surprise. MORE Monday morning quarterbacking from spart.

    I’m sure if he had been on the scene, spart would have disarmed the suspect with promises of free health care, a new car, and a foot massage.

    Bubba Maximus (456175)

  24. Justice prevails. Truly a shame someone would use a child as a shield.

    JEA (edf231)

  25. spart, you have demonstrated that the integrity of a pox-ridden weasel and the intelligence of a mollusk.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  26. Nuch hasn’t been in office more than a few weeks, and already the usual suspects are trying to undermine him, both the city hall mafia and the lap dog press corps that enables all the professional crooks commonly referred to as politicians.

    redc1c4 (fb8750)

  27. Why do you hate weasels and mollusks, SPQR?

    JD (f96a20)

  28. Well, not entirely. On a recent fishing trip, a weasel did chase a trout out of a pool in a stream that I was trying to catch. But I don’t blame the entire weasel species for that.

    Mollusks … well, that’s another story. It involves a cuttlefish.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  29. Wow. What a surprise. MORE Monday morning quarterbacking from spart.

    Bubba read the thread.

    My #12 was a response to a hypothetical proposed by Juan in #11, not a critique of the officers involved in this incident.

    SPQR, same.

    spart (ebb300)

  30. Nope, spart, I actually outsmarted the cuttlefish.

    You, however, …

    SPQR (26be8b)

  31. But imagine if you could see that a bastard was using his kid as a human shield, while shooting as his other kid, or other cops, or some combination.

    What do you do?

    Me? I don’t know, I have not been there. I am fifty-three years old and have have had a very good life. I can only hope that I would rush him and rip his head off with my bare hands if I made it to him.

    nk (d7a872)

  32. Spart gets outsmarted by the short-bussers.

    Mock and scorn. Point and laugh.

    JD (f96a20)

  33. SPQR, you will have to show me ‘cos I can’t see how you outsmarted anyone but yourself, which can’t be terribly difficult. But still.

    spart (ebb300)

  34. JD, smarts.

    How many here voted twice for Bush and for McPalin?

    I rest my case.

    spart (ebb300)

  35. Mock and scorn. Mock and scorn. It is not even new, unique, or entertaining, a horrible combination for a troll.

    JD (f96a20)

  36. It seems rather simple his joy, if they had lost this judgment, there could have been a personal civil suit as well.

    Hawkins (2c6336)

  37. I’m glad spart is here. I’ve been meaning to ask him – is a spart similar to a shart?

    LASue (5ea0a5)

  38. Shart is a beautiful lovely wonderful word.

    JD (f96a20)

  39. LASue

    How do you do!

    What can we do for you?

    spart (ebb300)

  40. Spart at 34 – Rest what case? I voted for Bush twice and McCain (and Reagan once, too young the first time around). Which proves what? That my political instincts are better than yours? Well that was a given.
    Bush liberated 50 million people from the 7th Century totalitarians who were abusing them, so far Obama has only liberated a few million Americans from their jobs.

    Have Blue (854a6e)

  41. I don’t know the facts of this incident, so I offer no comment on whether the judge’s decision was correct. Perhaps it was; I can certainly envision situations where the officer would need to shoot notwithstanding the risk of killing the child. However, what is the basis for Jack Dunphy’s statement that the deputy city attorneys “worked hard, performed well, and achieved a just outcome.” Did Mr. Dunphy sit through the trial or otherwise familiarized himself with the evidence and the efforts of the officers’ attorneys? In my experience with police cases, including those defended by the LA city attorney’s office, despite prevailing at trial deputy city attorneys are frequently incompetent (as measured by the standard of care for lawyers). Their success is usually attributable to the biases that judges (more so with state court judges than federal jurists) and jurors hold in favor of the police. (My shortcomings as plaintiff’s counsel also undoubtedly play a role.) So strong are those biases that judges & jurors have rejected cases of police misconduct despite credible & indeed overwhelming physical & forensic evidence establishing the misconduct. But in over 20 years of this litigation I have never seen the converse, i.e., a judge or jury ruling in a plaintiff’s favor despite clear evidence establishing that no misconduct happened. (I am not saying it has never occurred; just that it is exceedingly infrequent and an exception to the prevailing practice.) As I tell clients and others, to win a police misconduct case you must absolutely have the facts on your side. But just having the facts in your favor is insufficient; you must also be able to overcome the biases that will work against the plaintiff.

    Also, by his comment that “Suzie’s tragic death . . . did not produce a pot of gold for her mother and her lawyers,” is Mr. Dunphy suggesting it is wrong that survivors of a person wrongly killed by the police can recover monetary compensation? Defending against a lawsuit by implying that the plaintiff and his/her lawyer are simply greedy hustlers trying to profit off someone else’s misfortune, is a standard defense argument. It is an argument of misdirection and appeal to prejudice, based as it is on the supposed motives of plaintiff and counsel. Lawsuits should be decided on the facts of the case (as evaluated under the applicable law), and not by sleazy attacks on proponents’ motives.

    DWC (61e544)

  42. I find it hard to believe that this woman could believe the police dilerately endangered her child. If the facts are as stated it seems to be just another case of a greedy grasping individual egged on by the usual ambluance chasers.

    Thomas Jackson (8ffd46)

  43. Jack Dunphy – You are a bootlicking racist authoritarian who, by DWC’s measure, should not be commenting on legal matters, as you are not a lawyer, the lawyers that won are incompetent, and the system is stacked against DWC’s pure and virtuous clients.

    JD (f96a20)

  44. I find it hard to believe that this woman could believe the police dilerately endangered her child.

    Thomas,

    If you put a gun to my head and tell me “Shoot that little girl or I will kill you”, and I do shoot her, I am conclusively guilty of capital murder.

    Even without a gun to my head, if I fire a gun at the direction of a little girl and I kill her, there is a prima facie of capital murder.

    This was a good case, that any attorney would bring. And it was the mother’s only remedy. We have set our sustem up that way. “We killed your 19-month old baby. How much was she worth?”

    nk (35ba30)

  45. Bush liberated 50 million people from the 7th Century totalitarians who were abusing them

    Well that one came out of left field.

    Mind explaining who exactly was doing the 7th Century totalitarian thing and who let them in? and why that rationale didn’t feature prominently amongst the reasons given for invading and occupying Iraq at the sacrifice of 4000 and rising US lives and many, many more innocent iraqis?

    spart (ebb300)

  46. Again, it is a troll. It does everything in its power to talk about anything other than the topic at hand. Mock and scorn.

    JD (f96a20)

  47. DWC: I did not sit through the trial, but I am nonetheless familiar with the facts of the case and with the relative merits and weaknesses of the opposing sides. To be honest, the plaintiff’s case was a joke, relying as it did on the “expertise” of Paul Kim, a man who, despite his many years with the LAPD, had no meaningful training or experience in the matters at issue in the trial. The plaintiff played for sympathy, but the case her attorneys put on was found lacking. I’m confident the judge’s decision will be upheld if reviewed on appeal.

    I am not saying that “the survivors of a person wrongly killed by the police” should not recover damages. I am saying that Suzie Pena’s death, while tragic, was not the result of any unlawful or improper conduct by the involved officers.

    Jack Dunphy (38fbdf)

  48. JD

    Did you forget your ointment?

    It rubs the lotion on it’s skin, or else it gets the hose again.

    spart (ebb300)

  49. Mock and scorn, troll.

    What fluffy said

    JD (f96a20)

  50. Mr. Dunphy: Thanks for the follow-up; it answers my questions. As I said, I have no opinion on whether the judge’s ruling was correct & you are obviously better informed than me about this particular matter.

    JD: I didn’t say that Mr. Dunphy shouldn’t be commenting on legal matters because he is not a lawyer (for all I know he may be one); I asked what is the basis for his opinion that the judge made the right decision. As his recent comment shows, Jack Dunphy obviously knows a lot more about the case than what one reads in the paper. I also did not say that the officers’ attorneys in this particular case were incompetent; I said that in my experience deputy city attorneys frequently perform below the standard of care expected of attorneys but nevertheless prevail. For what its worth, one of the best bits of legal work I ever saw was by a LA deputy city attorney who, despite some strong evidence against his clients (LAPD officers) crafted a successful defense that would have make any attorney proud. Moreover, he was successful because he evaluated his clients’ potential liability as an objective attorney and not as an apologist for police no matter what the facts.

    As far as the system being “stacked,” I accept the hand that I am dealt. If I don’t like it, I have a choice – get into another line of work. In other words, I am not complaining when I say the biases run against my clients; I am simply stating a fact. As to your comment about my supposed “pure and virtuous” clients, you are entitled to your opinion that only people you like have a right to sue when wrongly injured. Hopefully, if called for jury duty you will acknowledge your contempt for persons who sue the police prevents you from fairly evaluating that person’s claim.

    DWC (61e544)

  51. Is this part of the Kervorkian Care Plan in the Congress?

    HeavenSent (01a566)

  52. BTW, according to Obama’s Science Czar Suzie Pena was not socialized and not human yet so what was all the fuss by the lefties?

    HeavenSent (01a566)

  53. DWC – Where, exactly, did I say that only people I like should be allowed to sue? Or, was that an asspull? You could also point out evidence of my alleged contempt while you are at it. Thanks.

    JD (f96a20)

  54. DWC – Do you advertise your services on billboards or radio?

    daleyrocks (718861)

  55. It’s sort of a spilt milk dealio. Has anyone seen Planet Terror? I loved that line.

    But whatever that thinger is on top of those shelves they should move it cause come an earthquake somebody’s gonna get bonked on the noggin.

    Or not. I really can’t tell what it is but definitely it can’t hurt to give it a look-see if you happen to be walking by that bookcase anytime soon.

    happyfeet (42470c)

  56. #52 My bad, the Science Czar is into forced sterilizations. His colleague Singer likes infanticide and he is at Princeton.

    Kervorkian Care coming our way.

    The life of a healthy dog is more important than your grandmother’s life.

    Call your Congresman and Senators.

    HeavenSent (01a566)

  57. JD: What is the point of you characterizing my clients as “pure and virtuous” (post #43) when (a) I offered no comment about my clients’ character & consequently (b) your comment was a sarcastic put-down suggesting they had no business being in court. You may not like it but the law allows “criminals” to recover damages if evidence establishes that the police violated their rights, causing them injury. Some who don’t like that concept acknowledge it when called as prospective jurors in a police misconduct case; God love ‘em for their honesty. I wish all jurors who hold strong biases that interfere with their ability to fairly judge the facts, would be so honest about their biases. Based on your comments, I’m not sure you would be so forthright.

    DWC (61e544)

  58. Jeez, DWC person. If you were a dwarf for sure you would be either Judgey or Sniffy.

    happyfeet (42470c)

  59. I love how the Times set this one up. The headline avoids any culpability of the evil doer and focuses on the LAPD. And the photo is priceless.

    Mr. Trutanich, welcome to the world of the LA Times. You will be sacrificed in the name of liberal dogma. I hoped you learned a valuable lesson.

    Alta Bob (cd787f)

  60. Mocking your system is stacked against me and my clients schtick says nothing about whether or not your clients should be allowed to sue. Nothing. I was mocking you. Period. I think that all sorts of people should have the right to sue. That does not mean they should have the right to recover.

    What fluffy said

    JD (f96a20)

  61. sorry about all the scary imagery JD

    happyfeet (42470c)

  62. I like it when condescending lawyers such as Mr. DWC come to visit to lecture the rubes that inhabit this blog.

    daleyrocks (718861)

  63. Based on your comments, I’m not so sure you don’t bugger goats. Your cute little formulation there at the end is so typical of the type we have seen around here recently.

    JD (f96a20)

  64. Where’s spurt?

    Isn’t it time for him to spew some more….stale talking points unrelated to the post at hand?

    daleyrocks (718861)

  65. Well I still haven’t had an answer to #45 if you want to give it your best shot.

    spart (ebb300)

  66. Happy – I will not sleep well after that one. Thank you.

    JD (f96a20)

  67. So I come in here, grazing, and happen first upon #34 by fart. How does voting-records for Palin or Bush have a wet turd to do with the OP?

    Little help?

    Mitch (69e416)

  68. It doesn’t but #32 might give you a clue.

    spart (ebb300)

  69. DWC, thank you for the intelligent, articulate thoughts and actually attempting to have a civil conversation. Mr. Dunphy’s response was also thoughtful and informative. It’s unfortunate that others have to resort to ad hominen attacks and name calling because they don’t like what you have to say (or you personally).

    I do thing it’s a little ridiculous that certain people, especially commenters on the LA Times website, are insulted by the City’s lawyers celebrating upon learning of the victory. Lawyers are hired to win cases for their clients and when they do so, they should be allowed to celebrate a little. I think this is especially so when the attorneys are not in the courtroom when they hear the news, but in their office. Most lawyers I know are already pretty boring people already, it’s nice to see one actually get excited about something.

    Roger Thornhill (42d9f3)

  70. Mitch – shart is hell-bent on discussing anything other than the actual topic.

    JD (f96a20)

  71. Well if you want to get back on topic take a look at #11 then take your best shot at answering #12.

    spart (ebb300)

  72. Jack or Patterico – I have a couple of questions if you have the time.

    1) Why was the case argued to the point of deliberation and then dismissed? I don’t know the facts about the case, but I was under the impression that the plaintiffs would have to present a cause of action before any trial started. IOW, why wasn’t the dismissal granted before trial if the case was so weak?

    It seems to me that this result can be viewed two ways – either the judge scuttled the case before the jury had their say because the city feared a loss, or an extremely weak case was allowed to proceed because the court erred on the side of the plaintiff when determining merit, and after the weak presentation of the case, the judge stepped in and stopped it.

    2) (and you know this one) Why did the headline mention an LAPD bullet, a dead toddler killed by the LAPD bullet and the toddler’s mother and yet somehow forget to mention that the father used the child as a human shield inside a house in a gunfight with cops?

    Apogee (e2dc9b)

  73. DWC – I was probably a bit too quick to jump the gun with you, and was obviously less than civil. I apologize. The recent influx of mendoucheous folks tends to make one assume the worst about others. I still think that you made some gross generalizations and mischaracterizations about me, and I suspect you and I would agree on very little. But, I should have been more civil.

    JD (f96a20)

  74. Apogee: I wasn’t privy to the pretrial wrangling, but I assume the City moved for a dismissal and was denied. On its face, the suit was arguably reasonable: the plaintiff’s daughter died as a result of police action, so the plaintiff sought relief in civil court. Only after both sides presented their evidence did it become so abundantly clear that the plaintiff failed to carry her burden, prompting the judge to act as he did.

    As for your second question, I can sympathize with the headline writer who is challenged to fit much information into limited space. That said, it is unsurprising that the L.A. Times should choose to omit any information favorable to the police from its headline.

    Jack Dunphy (38fbdf)

  75. Comment by spart — 8/4/2009 @ 6:36 pm

    Just to be sure, my vote in ’00 was against AlGore, in ’04 it was against Jean Francois Kerry, and in ’08 against Socialism!
    Any other questions?

    AD - RtR/OS! (03e729)

  76. Roger Thornhill – What fluffy said!

    daleyrocks (718861)

  77. NK:

    Unless you have evidence that the police acted in a reckless manner, were negligent, or acted in a manner contrary to policy and good sense I( can’t see the possibility of a lawsuit.

    Now if you ask me if lawyers would encourage a suit for any reason under the sun for the chance at a 100 million plus award I think we all know the answer.

    Do you have anything that indicates this woman acted in a reasonable fashion and had some grounds that most people would consider reasonable? If not this case seems just another argument for loser pays.

    Thomas Jackson (8ffd46)

  78. I think what Jack wrote in Comment #8

    The officers could not see that Raul Pena was holding his daughter during the final phase of the gunfight. Rounds were exchanged through a wall and then through a cloud of smoke.

    is what made the difference. If the child had been in clear view the plaintiff would have prevailed, likely by directed verdict. Truly, you are not allowed to knowingly create a risk of death or great bodily harm to an innocent third party even to save your life.

    And none of us here have any idea whether this woman would want $100 million or her baby back so that’s not something that makes for a good discussion.

    nk (977e07)

  79. “I just don’t know why everything bad that happens is a tort.”

    One reason is that it is a way of spreading the cost of unfortunate high-cost events. So that all the county spreads the cost of what happened to that little girl, instead of just her and her family.

    imdw (803b85)

  80. DWC,

    Lawyers are simply greedy hustlers trying to make money off others misfortune. And, I can say this with a lot of insight, as I am an attorney.

    More than 1/2 the lawsuits filed today are meritles and frivolous. that is why about 1/2 are disposed of by motion to dismiss. If the lawyer bringing the lawsuit had done his ethical duty and looked at the facts presented and the law, he would never have taken the case or filed the lawsuit. That so many lawyers are willing to file such suits demonstrates quite conclusively that they are not interested in justice, the law, or ethics, but only attempts to grab money.

    In my jurisdiction, a 15 year old girl rushed a police officer with a large hunting knife threatening to stab the officer and the officer was forced to use deadly force. There were numerous witnesses as to what occurred, including the girl’s family members. Of course, they brought a lawsuit against the officer and department for wrongful death. What decent, moral family member or attorney would bring such a suit?

    Monkeytoe (e66874)

  81. Actually, that brings to mind another similar case in this jurisdiction where a yet another teenage girl rushed an officer with a knife and was shot – but not critically wounded.

    Again, the family witnessed the event and saw the girl charge the officer with the knife (indeed, in this case the family had called the police on the girly b/c she was threatening them with the knife). Once again, the family sued the police. Again, is that moral or ethical? Was this family really “looking for justice” or were they looking for a lottery win? What was the attorney thinking who brought this case? I can’t imagine he thought he was seeking justice.

    Monkeytoe (e66874)

  82. I love how the Times set this one up. The headline avoids any culpability of the evil doer and focuses on the LAPD. And the photo is priceless.

    Mr. Trutanich, welcome to the world of the LA Times. You will be sacrificed in the name of liberal dogma. I hoped you learned a valuable lesson.

    Comment by Alta Bob — 8/4/2009 @ 9:05 pm

    Why? It is the same idea as blasting Bush on his response to Katrina. The LA Times theme is that conservatives are insensitive to the feelings of minorities.

    Remember, “toddler killed by LAPD” was calculated to evoke sympathy. Like Pena, the libs use the children.

    In fact, they routinely use them, not as shields, but as swords.

    Alta Bob (cd787f)

  83. Comment by Monkeytoe — 8/5/2009 @ 6:41 am

    Considering that the victim here was nineteen months old, it could not have been all that big of a knife. Your examples have nothing to do with this case.

    As for the attorney filing suit, it may have been the only way to find out what happened. Can you say Blue Wall?

    I just don’t know why everything bad that happens is a tort.

    Torts predate crimes in Anglo-Saxon law. There was wergild (compensation for death or injury) centuries before there were hangings, beheadings and gibbets.

    nk (977e07)

  84. I recommend “The Common Law” by Oliver Wendell Holmes to lawyers and non-lawyers alike. It’s free online here.

    nk (977e07)

  85. One reason is that it is a way of spreading the cost of unfortunate high-cost events. So that all the county spreads the cost of what happened to that little girl, instead of just her and her family.

    Comment by imdw — 8/5/2009 @ 5:15 am

    Wrong. Just the opposite. It enforces personal responsibility on the wrongdoer.

    In this case it is kind of diluted because the police have an indemnity contract with the city. And in other instances because the wrongdoer has bought insurance. But the principle is still sound.

    nk (977e07)

  86. NK,

    I believe it was you who spouted off about attorneys in all cases looking for justice, etc. . . so opened it up beyond this case. Nice way to argue both side though.

    And, the blue wall – in reference to the cases I explained? Please. That is idiotic nonesense on the highest of stilts. As I stated, there were many witnesses to teh events, including the families. And, the families did not dispute the polices’ version of events. The mentality of such people, and their bottom sucking attorneys, is that it does not matter what the facts are, the morality or ethics, or the law, lets file suit and try to make a bunch of money.

    As to this specific case, the judge threw the case out – which seems to confirm that the police were not liable in any way. The plaintiffs’ can appeal that decision, but my guess is that the police acted appropriately.

    Just b/c the outcome was not good, doesn’t mean that some plaintiff and her attorney should be awarded millions of dollars. I like how the outrage is all against the police and not the father. I’m willing to bet the mother also knew of the father’s criminal activities and violent proclivities, so I have little sympathy for her here. I do feel very, very bad for the innocent child, but again, not every bad result is an actionable tort. And, frankly, I don’t see how paying the mother millions of dollars in this case would bring anyone any justice.

    Justice in this case would be if the cops did something wrong and negligent, they should be disciplined, perhaps even losing their jobs. If their actions were criminal, than prosecute them.

    The idea that money equals justice is a wholly legal profession invented idea. B/c that way, the legal profession can make a lot of money off of “justice”.

    Monkeytoe (e66874)

  87. NK,

    You are pretty obviously a plaintiff’s attorney. Someone who convinces himself that he is “fighting the man” and doing justice for the little guy.

    How many meritless and frivolous cases do you file per year? Include in that count all cases that are dismissed on a motion and all cases where you are offered, and accept, nuisance value b/c you know the case has no merit and the other side knows they will win but the cost of the motion would be more than paying you off.

    My guess is that you, like almost all plaintiff’s attorney, live off of such settlements and that about 75% of your cases end in that fashion. Which means that you are using the legal system to harass people and companies into paying you money. Legal blackmail. It is dishonest, immoral and unethical. Indeed, you have an ethical duty to not bring a case that you know is meritless and frivolous. Misjudging a case or two a year would be one thing, but 75%, which is about average for plaintiffs’ attorneys, shows that they purposefully do it. There is no rational justification for that.

    How is that ethical? How is that doing justice? How does that have anything to do w/ personal responsibility?

    Everything you tell yourself so you can look in the mirror and sleep at night is a lie.

    Monkeytoe (e66874)

  88. For instance, look at John Edwards, paragon of trial lawyer and lefty virtue. He made his entire fortune off of junk science that was later disproven (as happens in almost all of these type of lawsuits).

    Why is that money not returned? Would that not be justice? why can those people and attorneys get to keep money that they are not ethically and morally entitled to?

    “justice” and responsibility only ever run one way with plaintiffs and plaintiffs attorneys. They never seem to believe such things apply to themselves.

    Monkeytoe (e66874)

  89. NK,

    I believe it was you who spouted off about attorneys in all cases looking for justice, etc. . . so opened it up beyond this case.

    You need to reexamine your belief system, because I have never said nor would I ever say such an idiotic thing.

    And, the blue wall – in reference to the cases I explained?

    Your cases had absolutely nothing to do with a nineteen-month old baby whom the police shot through in order to stop her father from shooting at them. Your case were a “look over there”. But thank you for sharing.

    As to this specific case, the judge threw the case out – which seems to confirm that the police were not liable in any way.

    Jack explained why in Comment #8 and I have no reason to disagree with him.

    Ok?

    nk (977e07)

  90. NK,

    You are pretty obviously a plaintiff’s attorney.
    ….

    How many meritless and frivolous cases do you file per year?
    ….

    My guess is that you, like almost all plaintiff’s attorney, live off of such settlements and that about 75% of your cases end in that fashion.
    How is that ethical? How is that doing justice? How does that have anything to do w/ personal responsibility?
    ….
    Everything you tell yourself so you can look in the mirror and sleep at night is a lie.

    Comment by Monkeytoe — 8/5/2009 @ 8:17 am

    I have always been a defense attorney. Criminal and civil. I have defended preemptively by suing in chancery in some cases. I have also been attorney for the petitioner in 1983 and habeas cases. Maybe that’s “the one drop rule” that makes me a plaintiffs’ attorney?

    But you know what? What Fluffy said, Monkeytoe.

    nk (977e07)

  91. Nothing more bitter than a spat between attorneys.
    But, as a lawyer client of mine explained just yesterday, the word comes from Medieval England from a sign that used to be hung on the door or lawyers when they were down at the jousting field: At Tourney.
    Maybe it isn’t true, but it fits; since, after all, an attorney is nothing but a “champion” hired to represent someone in a “joust” upon the field of honor (the court).

    AD - RtR/OS! (dcbe30)

  92. AD-RtR/OS!

    Nice story, totally false.

    Try a dictionary:

    1250–1300; ME < AF attourne lit., (one who is) turned to, i.e., appointed

    spart (3095d8)

  93. Comment by spfart — 8/5/2009 @ 9:52 am

    Tell it to my client, and please (next time) read the desclaimer – “Maybe it isn’t true”.
    But that would be assuming a much higher level of responsible behavior than you have previously demonstrated.

    NEWS ITEM….
    LAPD Chief Bratton to leave his position!

    Jack Dunphy, we need you persprective on this.

    AD - RtR/OS! (dcbe30)

  94. Spart’s got nothing to contribute intellectually to any thread its been in. It’s as though Spart was here before under a different name and was so humiliated each time an argument was attempted, that Spart fears nothing more than an actual debate.

    So Spart just comes in and insults people, as though that’s any less embarrassing for him than losing an argument.

    AD, that’s an awesome story. I suspect the truth isn’t clear either way. Words can be developed in strange ways.

    Juan (bd4b30)

  95. Perhaps fart is our old friend mariO?

    AD - RtR/OS! (dcbe30)

  96. Juan:

    Your comments are generally right on the mark and are well thought out. But you are unusually reserved in your treatment of Spart who engages in the sort of drive by snarking that marks a real troll.

    I’ve yet to see him cite anything concrete or add something of substance in any of its comments.

    Thomas Jackson (8ffd46)

  97. It’s a variation of agent. There are powers of attorney and attorneys in fact in addition to attorneys at law. There is attorn which is agreement for the exercise or even waiver of respective rights.

    But AD may have a point. In the Middle Ages, when some disputes were settled through trial by combat, people of a certain station were entitled to appoint champions to fight for them. Ok, we’re knights in blue pintripes. 😉

    nk (977e07)

  98. #78

    NK:

    Its unworthy of you to say its unfair to ask whether she wants 100 million or her child back. She can’t have her child back. But she sued in circumstances that would seem to have been at best questionable. If she wanted justice done why was she seeking monetary damages? If she wasn’t motivated by monetary damages I assume she issued a statement prior to the decision stating any procedes would have gone to charity?

    The cost of lawyer driven lawsuits is crushing this country. We need a loser pays system. Something that lawyers oppose because in any lawsuit three parties of four make money.

    The winner, his lawyer, and the loser’s lawyer.

    Thomas Jackson (8ffd46)

  99. I thought I only said that we should not go there, Thomas. Because it won’t get us anywhere. We don’t know what is in this lady’s mind. What would I do if I lost my daughter? What would you?
    Whom would we want to blame? How sane would we stay?

    But she sued in circumstances that would seem to have been at best questionable.

    Maybe it’s different in LA, but in Chicago the blue wall goes up after a police shooting. No information is released by the PD to anybody without a lawsuit. In about three years the results of an “internal investigation”, by the PD’s Office of Professional Coverups, is released and meantime evidence has been lost and witnesses have moved.

    nk (977e07)

  100. Thomas, I’m being sarcastic. Of course spart is a really pathetic person. I just don’t care that much. This blog is probably always going to have one or two, and I prefer they be this easy to see through and this self defeating.

    Spart’s just not good enough to derail the commentary. Might as well start calling us honkeys.

    I don’t think NK disagrees with you that money is not a substitute for a child… it’s sad that our legal system has become broken by greed, but money is the civil system’s usual remedy. It’s hard to come up with a good alternative. Regardless, there is no right outcome to this case… the kid’s dead, the mom can’t come up with a good way to handle her anger and grief. In her shoes I wouldn’t sue to police, but I probably would also do something really stupid and pointless.

    Of course, we’ll only see more of this as criminals are let out of jails to free up enough money for the corruption in government.

    Juan (bd4b30)

  101. Juan:

    I agree with all your points. What does annoy me is the thought that some idiot walking along a sidewalk in the wrong kind of attire could slip and fall and then sue me for qall my assets. Not due to any fault on my part but due to his own folly.

    I realized the corruption of the legal system when I read in the WSJ the following examples of cases that went to trial and won:

    -A thief in California attempted to rob a high school by fell through the skylight. He sued and won.

    -An individual was making a phone call from a public phone booth when a drunk driver lost control of his car. The caller was injured in the crash. He sued. The driver-no the phone company for not making a phone booth that could withstand the forcing of a cashing car. He won megabucks.

    In school we were also told of an individual who built a swiming pool. He had an outer fence built and an inner one. Warnings were posted on both fences. Some teenagers next door got drunk. One decided a swim would be wonderful, climbed over both fences and dived in. He broke his neck when he failed to notice the pool wasn’t filled. The family sued. They won.

    I never underestimate the greed or stupidity of people once they have been cornered by a lawyer.

    Thomas Jackson (8ffd46)

  102. “Wrong. Just the opposite. It enforces personal responsibility on the wrongdoer.”

    I’m talking about situations such as the one that I quoted from, where there really isn’t a wrongdoer.

    imdw (7c85b9)

  103. If there isn’t a wrongdoer, why in the hell would we need to spread the loss amongst the taxpayers?

    JD (725e5a)

  104. “If there isn’t a wrongdoer, why in the hell would we need to spread the loss amongst the taxpayers?”

    So it doesn’t befall on one unfortunate person.

    imdw (5236ba)

  105. I am literally at a loss for words …

    JD (593b0c)

  106. IMDW also sees swaztikas, besides being bothered by voices telling him what to do.

    No other comment can better describe a troll than “situations where there isn’t a wrong doer.”

    Good to hear that the father who used his girl as a shield in a shooting confrontation with the police wasn’t a wrong doer.

    Thomas Jackson (8ffd46)


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