By special request . . .
This is an outrage:
A man who was falsely imprisoned after being shot and framed by corrupt Rampart gang officers nearly a decade ago was awarded $6.5 million in damages Wednesday by a jury that found his county public defender was negligent for failing to uncover the police misconduct.
Here’s why it’s an outrage:
“We’re shocked at the verdict and do not believe that Ms. Toister committed malpractice or was negligent,” said Chief Deputy Public Defender Robert Kalunian. “We don’t understand how the jury found that the two officers who have publicly admitted that they lied and framed Mr. Ovando were zero percent responsible for his conviction and incarceration. I don’t believe the verdict will stand.”
The public defender was 100% responsible and the cops were 0% responsible?? I’d have to say I agree with Mr. Kalunian: that verdict will not stand. In fact, my guess is that the trial judge won’t wait for the appeal — she’ll substantially cut the award, and may vacate the judgment entirely.
What kind of a jury does this? The story has a hint from a dissenting juror (remember, in California a civil judgment requires only 9 of 12 jurors to vote for the plaintiff):
Juror Teresa Reese, one of three who voted against the payout, said she believed some of her fellow panel members voted to award damages because they were sympathetic to the wheelchair-bound defendant. Others, she said, seemed confused about the judge’s instructions to the jury.
“Some of the jurors were second-guessing [Toister’s] legal strategy instead of following the judge’s instructions to focus on the evidence,” Reese said. “They couldn’t lay the blame on Perez or Durden, so they blamed the public defender instead.”
It is certainly tempting to call this particular jury incredibly stupid. But it might be more accurate to call them incredibly contemptuous of the law.
P.S. For what it’s worth, I know the public defender involved — not well, but I see her around the courthouse often and know her by reputation. She is, to say the least, not someone who is shy about defending her clients — and I believe she had that same reputation during the period of time when she was defending Ovando.