[Hpn] LAPD Code of Silence LAWSUIT may lack "class-action potential" says Federal Judge (fwd) says Federal Judge (fwd)

Tom Boland wgcp@earthlink.net
Sun, 28 Jan 2001 16:29:26 -0800 (PST)


LAPD: Judge doubts class-action potential of LA police lawsuit CIRCULATE PLEASE to Civil Rights supporters & related lists: Nearly 200 "plaintiffs include Officer John Goines, who claims he was punished for criticizing the 1999 fatal police shooting of Margaret Mitchell, 55, a mentally ill homeless woman who allegedly threatened an officer with a screwdriver... The lawsuit alleges that the retaliation helped foster a ``code of silence'' that contributed to the Rampart station corruption scandal that has rocked the police department..." http://newsfinder.arinet.com/fpweb/fp.dll/$stargeneral/htm/x_dv.htm/_ibyx/cg0302 6/_itox/starnet/_svc/news/_Id/699688920/_k/0hWjMn7jl6k1LJYe FWD Associated Press - AP Wire Service - Jan 26, 2001 Photo Advisory LA103 JUDGE DOUBTS CLASS-ACTION POTENTIAL OF LA POLICE LAWSUIT By PAUL CHAVEZ Associated Press Writer LOS ANGELES (AP) _ A federal judge cast doubt Friday that a lawsuit filed by nearly 200 current and former officers who claim they were punished for reporting misconduct within the Los Angeles Police Department will gain class-action status. U.S. District Court Judge Florence-Marie Cooper said the wide range of claims would make it unlikely that the court would certify it as a class-action. The claims include discrimination based on race, gender, age, sexual orientation and retaliation for reporting police misconduct, criminal wrongdoing and sexual harassment. Cooper gave attorney Bradley Gage and other lawyers representing the officers until August to prepare a viable class-action complaint. Gage said he may pursue the case in a series of subclasses that cover various groups of officers. About 100 officers attended the otherwise routine status hearing. ``All of you being here makes a statement,'' Gage told the officers after the hearing. ``The city attorneys were shaking as they were walking into the courtroom.'' The plaintiffs include Officer John Goines, who claims he was punished for criticizing the 1999 fatal police shooting of Margaret Mitchell, 55, a mentally ill homeless woman who allegedly threatened an officer with a screwdriver. During a July 12, 2000, deposition in a federal civil rights lawsuit filed by Mitchell's family, Goines said he believed the shooting was unjustified because, although his view was blocked at that moment, he saw the circumstances before and afterward. ``Almost everyone here had exemplary careers until they reported misconduct,'' Gage said. He added that the majority of plaintiffs are veterans with at least 10 years of service and about half still work for the department. The lawsuit names the city, Police Chief Bernard Parks and other high-ranking officials. The plaintiffs claim they were given poor work assignments, were closely scrutinized, were targeted for complaints and were harassed after reporting misconduct. The lawsuit alleges that the retaliation helped foster a ``code of silence'' that contributed to the Rampart station corruption scandal that has rocked the police department. ``Police officers know if they see something wrong and they report it their career is over,'' Gage said. ``So they have to stay quiet.'' Sgt. John Pasquariello, a department spokesman, declined to comment specifically on the lawsuit. He said, however, that the department has a specific policy against retaliation and officers should file a complaint if they believe there has been retaliation. ``If an officer sees misconduct they should report it immediately to their supervisor,'' Pasquariello said. ``If someone reports it at a later date, we do investigate that.'' City attorneys want to limit the scope and time the lawsuit can cover and want all the plaintiffs clearly identified, said Jess J. Gonzalez, an assistant city attorney in the police employment law section. ``They're asking for documents that go back 10 years plus,'' Gonzalez said. ``We don't often keep records for that lengthy period of time.'' The judge ordered attorneys for both sides to meet over the next several months to determine a schedule to manage the case. AP-WS-01-26-01 2200EST Received Id AP1010269BA2A76B on Jan 26 2001 21:01 END FORWARD **In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, this material is distributed without charge or profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this type of information for non-profit research and educational purposes only.** Visit HPN for CONSTANTLY UPDATING NEWS on Homeless People: *************************************************************** Over 10,000 articles by or via homeless & ex-homeless people Been Homeless? Then JOIN! EMAIL Tom Boland <wgcp@earthlink.net> Nothing About Us Without Us - Democratize Public Policy ***************************************************************