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Monday, December 17, 2012

Trutanich loses $24M lawsuit as Porcupine Defense bombs, again

The monumental failure of City Attorney Carmen Trutanich's infantile 'Porcupine Defense' has set a new record in costly lawsuit losses. On Friday, December 15, 2012, a Los Angeles jury returned a verdict awarding $24M to the victim of a LAPD shooting where an officer mistakenly shot a 13 year-old boy playing 'cops and robbers' with his friends.

Trutanich's 'Porcupine Defense' is believed to be responsible for the record award against the City
According to the LA Times, 'The award is believed to be the largest sanction ever against the LAPD for a single event and perhaps the largest of any kind against the department. It comes as the LAPD is trying to stem the number of costly lawsuits brought against it.' 

The verdict comes at a time when the City Council is looking at ways to outsource much of the work of the City Attorney's office to private lawfirms, a move spurred by a lack of leadership by Trutanich. Although the essence of the Council's complaints against Trutanich have centered on delays in responding to requests for legal services, the staggering losses in this case are likely to add fuel the fire to bypass ineffective leadership by a career politician more focused on headlines and desperate attempts at re-election following his devastatingly humiliating defeat in the DA primary elecection.

The $24M verdict is the latest in a string of multimillion dollar losses suffered by City Attorney Trutanich, who has insisted that his deputies employ his 'Porcupine Defense' strategy to defend the City. Under the strategy, settlement negotiations are not meaningfully pursued and plaintiffs are forced to go to trial. Trutanich, who invented the 'Porcupine Defense' stated that it was something he learned in school 'You may eat me, but I won't taste good going down,' the abrasive former ambulance chaser slip and fall lawyer turned career politician recently explained.



Recent examples of the failure of the Porcupine Defense include a $2.8M award in a case that could have been settled for $700,000, and a $2M award in a case that could have been settled for $500,000.  It is not know how much the $24M case could have settled for, and Trutanich declined to make a detailed statement.

LAPD Chief Beck stated that he was 'encouraging the City Attorney to appeal because I believe the judgment is unwarranted.'  Beck, however, may be unaware that Trutanich recently 'dropped the ball' by forgetting to file an appeal within time limits, a failure which left the City of Los Angeles with no option but to pay the award in full, plus an additional a quarter of a million dollars in interest.

In other news ...

Former District Attorney candidate Alan Jackson complains of transfer; suggests retaliation


Jackson drew short of directly accusing District Attorney Jackie Lacey of retaliation when he spoke the the LA Times about his transfer from being Assistant Head Deputy of the Major Crimes Division to an Assistant Head Deputy position where he will 'supervise deputy district attorneys handling what he described as "garden variety felony" and misdemeanor cases,' Jackson told the LA Times.

Jackson has been assigned to one the Central Trials divisions in the same building where he currently works. According to the Times, Jackson's transfer is 'a "lateral move" that had nothing to do with the campaign.' 

District Attorney spokesperson Jean Guccione said 'more than half of the office's managers were reassigned on Friday as part of a shake-up by the new administration. Jackson's salary, title and office location in downtown Los Angeles will remain the same,' she said.

"This is not retaliation," Guccione said. "This new assignment provides an excellent opportunity for him to share his courtroom experience with other prosecutors."

Jackson, however, told the Times that he 'disputed that the transfer was a lateral move. "It's a move backward in my career," Jackson said. "This decision is specifically designed to remove me from the courtroom and from access to complex and high-profile litigation."'

Jackson stopped short of saying he believed the new assignment, which takes effect Jan. 7, was 'punishment for his criticism of Lacey during the campaign,' but he said he 'could think of no other reason for the transfer.' "Am I disappointed? Absolutely. Not just for me, but I'm disappointed for what it says about the mission of the district attorney's office," he said.

While Jackson may be disappointed, he should not be surprised. Transfers take place routinely during the course of any administration, and particularly when there is a change of leadership. If anything is disappointing, it is Jackson's characterization of his new assignment as 'garden variety.'

The bulk of the work of the District Attorney's Office, indeed its mission, is handling felony and misdemeanor crimes of all types. While most of those cases do not make the headlines, the effective prosecution of all cases is of paramount importance to all victims of crime. The unsung heroes of the Office are those Deputy DA's who handle their assignments professionally, effectively and with respect for all victims of all crimes.

Jackson describes his new assignment as 'backward' in his career. That is, perhaps, a very telling statement. One that suggests that Jackson considers his career as more important than the mission of the Office. If Jackson thinks so little of some victims of crime that they are 'garden variety' unless they garner him a headline, then perhaps he needs to change what's growing in his garden. From what he says, it sounds like he's growing sour grapes. Perhaps he's using a little too much manure?

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10 comments:

Anonymous said...

AJ, if anyone had any doubt that you were unfit to be DA, you have just settled that doubt. You lost the election, get over it.

Anonymous said...

Wow Alan, didn't know you thought so highly of the work the rest of us do. Glad I didn't support you.

Anonymous said...

Jackson is nothing special. Anyone can convict a person who shoots and kills a defenseless cocktail waitress in his home, with his own gun, and then walks out and tells his limo driver 'I think I just killed someone.' Oh, and don't forget a cast of thousands who say that Spector was a nutcase with guns. Gimme a break.

Anonymous said...

I feel sorry for the people in the city attorneys office who have to listen to Trutanich telling them how to win cases. He now holds the record for losing the biggest ever case in the history of the city of la. The council needs to immediately remove him from oversight of cases and put an end to his madness.

Anonymous said...

Bad move AJ. Suck it up.

Anonymous said...

Alan, you're better than this.

KCAL 9 interviewed the kid who was at the center of that police shooting Trutanich blundered. He was left a paraplegic. At long last Mr. Trutanich, have you no decency? Have you no shame?

Anonymous said...

Jackson is on his way out, and has no intention of remaining in the DA's Office. He's been interviewing with civil firms, and is shopping around for the best offer while his stock is still (relatively) high.

This LA Times article he solicited was his way of taking one last shot at Lacey, who humiliated him with a 10 point thumping. Truly the mark of a small, petty, ego-driven individual...the exact opposite of Lacey.

Jackson will be gone within a month, and will be a nobody who carries the briefcase of a senior partner at a civil firm. His time in the spotlight has passed, and he'll be forgotten- just another footnote in the history of the LADA's Office.

Good riddance. There are plenty of trial attorneys currently in the DA's Office with more talent than Jackson...they just tend not to seek out the spotlight as much. Well Mr. Jackson, the spotlights have been shut off and everyone went home...enjoy your trip into obscurity. You won't be missed. But you will be forgotten.

Anonymous said...

The comments against Lacey make no sense. If Jackson had won the election, wouldn't he have replaced Lacey as Chief DA? Surely, those Jackson supporters would not classify that decision as vindictive.

As DA, Lacey has her own people that she wants to give a chance. That's what adminstrations do.

If Lacey were truly vindictive, she would have made Jackson a Calendar Deputy in a far away place (a.k.a. freeway therapy). Instead, he is still an Assistant Head Deputy downtown.

If Jackson thinks that he is the only one who can try high profile cases, he is misguided. With over 1000 deputy district attorneys in the county, there are plenty of us who can do what he did, maybe even better. They just need the opportunity. He knows this.

Jackson is a great trial lawyer. If he embraces his new assignment, he could be an even better mentor/supervisor, which is what most Assistant Head Deputies do anyway.

Anonymous said...

In defense of AJ you people should be kissing his feet for taking Trutanich out of contention and ending his political career.

Anonymous said...

LA Times just published an op-ed which makes Jackson really look like a cry baby:

http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/opinion-la/la-oe-team-of-rivals-las-da-office-20121218,0,2672886.story

I guess we really dodged the bullet with AJ getting his ass whipped by Lacey