|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.
UPDATED @ 3:00PM
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.