Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Tuesday Topics - Lacey sworn in as DA, Trutanich 'Porcupine Defense' bombs, again

District Attorney Jackie Lacey sworn in

A large crowd gathered at USC's Galen Center Monday afternoon to see history being made - Jackie Lacey was sworn in as Los Angeles County's first female and first African American District Attorney. Former District Attorneys John Van de Kamp (1975-1981), Robert Philibosian (1981-1984), Gil Garcetti (1992-2000), and retiring DA Steve Cooley (2000-2012) joined US Attorney Andre Birotte Jr. to witness the swearing in of LA's 42nd District Attorney.

The crowd, estimated to be over 1,200, was comprised of local politicians, civic leaders, law enforcement leaders and a sizable number of Deputy District Attorneys who Lacey hailed as 'my heroes.' Click the links for full coverage from the Los Angeles Times, the Daily News, and some excellent historical perspective from the Metropolitan News-Enterprise.

Noticeably absent from the event was current City Attorney Carmen Trutanich, who was roundly defeated by Lacey and Alan Jackson in the primary election. Also on the missing list was termed out Assemblyman Mike Feuer who, along with police rights attorney Greg Smith will likely emerge as the frontrunners to replace Trutanich in 2013. Feuer had planned to attend the swearing in ceremony, but was involved in an automobile accident when his Toyota Prius was struck by a truck.

Trutanich's 'Porcupine Defense' costs taxpayers $2.1M

The LA Times reported 'Another costly verdict goes against the LAPD' last week, but the true story of yet another costly loss for the taxpayers of Los Angeles is the monumental failure of embattled City Attorney Carmen 'Nuch' Trutanich's infantile 'Porcupine Defense' strategy.

In 2007, LAPD Officer Pedro Torres was on patrol when he saw a van speeding away. The van contained an unconscious kidnapped rape victim and her attackers. Alone, and without backup, Torres fired at the tires of the van, and succeeded stopping it. In doing so he prevented an already shocking crime becoming a likely horrific murder. Torres received immediate praise from then LAPD Chief Bratton for his quick and laudable reactions. However, Torres heroism was later turned against him when he was suspended for five days without pay for what was determined to be 'excess use of force' and an 'out of policy' discharge of his firearm. Torres believed his suspension was actually retaliation for his previous testimony in a case where a fellow officer was the subject of racial discrimination. Torres retired and sued LAPD for the shabby way they treated him.

The case came under current City Attorney Carmen Trutanich's 'Porcupine Defense,' a schoolyard bully-boy strategy that Trutanich hails as his 'secret weapon' to win cases - only time and time again it fails miserably. According to Trutanich, the Porcupine Defense was something he learned in school. 'You may eat me, but I won't taste good going down,' is how the former ambulance chaser slip and fall lawyer turned career politician defines his strategy.

Former LAPD Officer Pedro Torres was represented by City Attorney candidate Greg Smith, who tried to settle the case for $700,000, but Trutanich refused to negotiate. The case went to trial, and not surprisingly, the jury came back with a verdict awarding Torres $2.8M, that's $2.1M more than the case could and should have been settled for, but for Trutanich's bizarre defense strategy. 

The Torres case is but the latest of a string of losses suffered by Trutanich as his Porcupine Defense bleeds the city coffers dry. Trutanich is quick to claim that he has 'saved' the City millions, but those 'savings' are highly questionable; had Torres claimed $4M in damages but been awarded $2.8M, Trutanich would claim he had 'saved' the City $1.2M. In other words, Trutanich's so-called savings are not made up of 'take it to the bank money,' but pretend or theoretical dollars. However, Trutanich's losses are made up of real dollars, taxpayer dollars, dollars that could fix potholes, dollars that could pay for more police officers, dollars that could even prevent the 13% pay cut that Trutanich's deputies have to suffer.

The jury verdict in the case of Torres v. City of Los Angeles is probably something Trutanich will not boast or brag about as he hawks his failing re-election campaign to audiences who have to endure his rambling stream of irrelevant campaign rhetoric. Neither will it be mentioned by Mike Feuer, who may never have actually tried a multimillion dollar case personally. But it is likely to be raised by his principal opponent, Greg Smith who appears to be the only real lawyer in the race to become LA's next City Attorney. Who better to defend the City from lawsuits than someone who actually knows the value of a case?

Someone who does know the value of a case is former Deputy City Attorney Robert Pulone, who observed much of the Torres case and was 'third chair.' According to Pulone, he has defended the City of LA in hundreds of cases, but 'this was one that should have settled.' Pulone had no hesitation in blaming Trutanich's 'inane Porcupine Defense' for costing the City millions of dollars. Pulone also noted that the actual loss to the City will be higher than $2.8M, once attorney fees are added.



Anonymous said...

Trutanich probably couldn't bring himself to Jackie's swearing in, the whole thing must be too painful for him - seeing all his old supporters now cheering for Jackie while Nuch thinks about how it could have been him. He could have been the DA of Los Angeles if only people like you Joe Friday hadn't betrayed him. Nuch is a natural born leader of men, and this setback is nothing, he can take a lot more kicks in the nuts before he quits

Anonymous said...

Trutanich was there a you know it. You were the reason he left when you screamed out DEAD MAN WALKING! Poor Nuch, can't you give him a break? He's finished in LA, at least let him go out with some dignity.

Anonymous said...

Pedro Torres is a hero. He was entitled to be treated with dignity by Trutanich. That didn't happen.

Anonymous said...

Trulietich is an arrogant asshole and no friend of law enforcement. His petty hostile attitude has alienated just about everyone of influence in LA. He has shamed San Pedro with his conduct and they will pay him back in the election. Again.

Anonymous said...

Lacey's swearing in was so important to many of us. It shocks me that so many people don't realize the importance of basic things. The first woman. The first person of color. If you're not a woman or a person of color, it's so easy to be blasé about these things. It hurts to know that my coworkers can't understand why these things make me misty-eyed.