Sunday, May 8, 2011

Trutanich Trial Losses Cost City Millions - Blames Deputies

It's not that long ago that City Attorney Carmen Trutanich was celebrating a trial victory with that infamous "High Five for a Dead Baby" photo in the Los Angeles Times.

The LA Times captured the essence of victory for Trutanich
who enthusiastically "High Fives" a staffer at the news of the
trial verdict involving a dead baby. (Credit LA Times)

Times change, and with it the 'winningness' of City Attorney Carmen Trutanich has also changed.

The Los Angeles Times reports that "City records show that from 2005 to 2010, [LAPD] officers have sued the department over workplace issues more than 250 times. The city has paid settlements or verdicts totaling more than $18 million in about 45 of those cases and has lost several other verdicts worth several million dollars more in cases it is appealing, a review of the records shows. The city has prevailed in about 50 cases. The rest, representing tens of millions of dollars in potential liability, remain open."

Trutanich is known for proudly announcing the successes of his "aggressive" policy towards defending lawsuits, however, little had been said about the times when Trutanich's policy results in painfully expensive losses.
The LA Times cited an example where "Attorney Matthew McNicholas represented three LAPD officers. "McNicholas offered to settle the three cases for a total of $2 million, but police officials and city lawyers were adamant about taking all three to court and ended up losing verdicts totaling about $9.5 mil."

According to the LA Times, Trutanich blames inexperience and poor work by his deputy city attorneys for the recent losses. "Understaffing and a lack of lawyers with experience in workplace issues in the city attorney's office has hampered the city's ability to defend itself against such lawsuits in court, officials said." The Times reported.

In what appears to be an attempt by Trutanich to distance himself from the problem, Trutanich authorized his chief deputy to tell the LA Times that "overworked attorneys have missed court-filing deadlines, failed to take important depositions and made other blunders on employment cases." The Times reported.

Trutanich's harsh criticism of his deputies appears to be due to the failure of his deputies to effectively implement his "Porcupine Defense" strategy. Trutanich recently told the Rotary Club of Arcadia that his "Porcupine Defense" was something which "he learned in school," explaining that "You may eat me, but I won’t taste good going down."

Trutanich did not indicate whether the "Porcupine Defense" was something he studied in elementary, grade, or law school.

Whether the blame lies in the failure of Trutanich's schoolyard strategy,  failing to "take important depositions," or making "other blunders," Trutanich's open condemnation of his deputy city attorneys may be seen by some as a cheap and cowardly attempt to avoid taking responsibility for his lack of management.

City Hall observers have recently noted that it is Trutanich, rather than his deputies, who may be derelict in his duties. As LA Daily News reporter Rick Orlov recently said "It is quickly becoming a popular game downtown: Where in City Hall is Carmen Trutanich?" perhaps an allusion to the considerable amount of time Trutanich spends away from work while he pursues his personal dream to become District Attorney.


The Los Angeles Dragnet received the following statement from Alan Jackson:

"Strong leaders build excellence by both setting an example and accepting responsibility. The mark of a true leader is having the fortitude to back your team even when times are tough. I have never believed in blame shifting, and in my view, nothing will undermine an organization more quickly. The next DA must embrace the opportunity to take responsibility for the largest prosecutorial agency in the country, and must have the strength of character to stand behind the deputies who fight for justice in courtrooms everyday."

Our thanks to Jackson for providing his views on leadership and responsibility. All candidates are welcome to submit their comments for publication.


Anonymous said...

Trutanich is a lowlife scumbag for blaming his deputy city attorneys for not being pricks like him, that must be what he means by porcupine defense.

Seriously, how low can this ahole go?

Anonymous said...

Trutanich HATES that photo. When LA Times first published it he called the Times and demanded that it be removed. I'm glad they didn't. But the reporter, Maeve Reston who was present when Nuch "high fived" the case about the dead baby, was "re-assigned."

The photo has now disappeared from the archived story:

I hope the DA Candidates are paying attention. Anyone who gloats over the death of a baby with a high five, and then throws his own people under the bus because his legal strategy belongs in the schoolyard with other bullies, needs to be treated with the utmost disdain.

Alan Jackson is the only candidate brave enough to take on this thug so far. That's what it takes to be LA's next DA, not some childish schoolyard "legal strategy."

Anonymous said...

It is shocking that Trutanich publicly made such disgusting comments about deputy city attorneys. If there is a problem in the office, then he needs to take care of it, that is HIS job. But playing the blame game like this is one of the most cowardly things I have ever seen.

Anonymous said...

Apart from the fact that you have misquoted everything, and taken statements out of context, the statements where made by made by Bill Carter, not Carmen Trutanich, and were supposed to express the frustration that is felt in the office by the budget cuts, furlough days and other measures that the City of LA has taken to try to make Carmen Trutanich's job harder.

Anonymous said...

When the going gets tough, cowards blame others. Carter said what Trutanich told him to say. In fact Trutanich is a bigger coward for hiding behind Carter.

Anonymous said...

If Nuch is losing that much money in judgements he doesn't need to run for District Attorney, he needs to run for ADDA president!

Anonymous said...

Windscale, you're SICK! To create your own caption for someone else's photo and imply that Trutanich would high five over a dead child, is absolutely beyond the pale.

The fact that you would take a tragic, horrific situation like this, and use it for your own twisted political purposes shows you have absolutely no scruples, ethics or common decency.

You should take a hard look in the mirror at yourself because you have gone completely off the rails this time.

Anonymous said...

Props to "Windscale" for publishing comments from folks who don't agree with him. But 8:46PM should have read Maeve Reston's report of the "High Five For A Dead Baby" article before putting his foot in his mouth. The link to Reston's article was provided by 12:22PM, and in the pertinent part Reston says:

"Carmen Trutanich was being interviewed at the start of his fifth full week as Los Angeles city attorney when the door of his eighth-floor office at City Hall East swung open.

A deputy stepped in to deliver the news of his administration's first win: dismissal of a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family of a 19-month-old girl killed when police stormed a South L.A. auto shop. They had returned fire on her father, who was holding the child in his arms.

It was a delicate matter, but Trutanich's first reaction was to show pride in his team's work. He hugged and high-fived his deputies, offering one of them a cigar from a wooden box at the back of his office. A Times photographer captured the scene."

IMHO "Windscale" doesn't imply anything that wasn't said by Reston, who was obviously disgusted at Trutanich's crass reaction to a tragic story. An innocent 19 month-old died, and good old Nuch High-Fives it and hands out cigars?

You can't make this stuff up.

Anonymous said...

Ironic, Trutanich high-fives a trial verdict over a dead baby to show pride in his team's work, and less than 2 years later he calls them inexperienced blunderers.

Who is responsible for running the CA's office so badly that in less than 2 years the team has gone from hero to zero? Oh, that would be Nuch.

In my experience, deputy city attorneys work as hard, if not harder, than felony prosecutors to win cases.

I've lost any respect I ever had for you Nuch, turning on your own people to save your skin is beyond shameful, it's cowardly.

Anonymous said...

Alan Jackson is about to lose 2 or 3 of his endorsements. You read it here first.

Anonymous said...

Nuch probably lashed out against his deputies because he thinks they are all working against him to help Krekorian defeat him in 2013. That's probably why Nuch is running away to become DA.

Anonymous said...

10:00PM, I just looked at Jackson's endorsements, and the only one that might withdraw is Dennis Zine who is probably waiting to switch to Trutanich as soon as the right deal is done. Dragnet should look real close at any favors or deals that are done in return for endorsements, it's against the law.

Anonymous said...

Dennis Zine is sick of Alan Jackson and his nascent gutter campaign, and so are others.

The only deal in this situation is Alan's deal with the devil.

Anonymous said...

Zine, and everyone else in city hall, are sick of Trutanich and his childish grandstanding and crass attempts to gain more power. They are all pretty evenly divided between supporting Krekorian, Huizar and Feuer for city attorney in 2013.

When news of Trutanich's public betrayal of his deputies becomes more widespread, they will all turn on Trutanich. City Hall is a very pro-labor group, and what Trutanich did was disgusting, and highly offensive to "the city family."

If the ADDA were an effective pro-labor union, they would have jumped all over this and condemned the way Trutanich publicly condemned his own people. But the silence of the ADDA is very telling about who they really are, and what they represent - just like the ADDA's endorsement of John Eastman.

Alan Jackson is the only one with the guts to stand up for the decent treatment of employees, and his statement says all that needs to be said "The mark of a true leader is having the fortitude to back your team even when times are tough. "

Well said Alan.

Anonymous said...

These blog commenters live in an alternative universe. They must watch a lot of Fox News, another alternative universe.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations Alan Jackson! Nuch was on KABC earl this morning. Sounded like he had been punched real hard in the gut, whining about all the criticism he's getting. Idiot complained that he gave up a high paid job in private practice to be city attorney. "Boo hoo, poor me, I only make $235,000 a year."

Go back to private practice Nuch, you won't be missed at all. I guaran f'ing tee it.

Anonymous said...

Alan Jackson is the only candidate with the guts to replace Jackie Lacey on his first day in office.

You go Alan! The Lancaster crew has your back.

Anonymous said...

@8:38AM comment is offensive as well as utter rubbish. The blog admin should delete it

Anonymous said...

Trial losses? I thought you were talking about theTrutanich volunteer program where he replaced experienced deputy city attorneys with kids out of law school who can't get jobs. They are losing cases spectacularly and costing millions in wasted court time and public defender costs. If a case is worth prosecuting then a professional lawyer should be doing it. If it's not an important enough case, then don't waste time and money on it.

Anonymous said...

@8:38AM is right on. Many of the DDA's can't wait for Alan to come in and show Jackie the door.

He's the only one in this race who wouldn't let political correctness dictate his decisions. He'll put the right people in these top admin jobs.

Anonymous said...

Is Jackie Lacey even still in the race?