My friend and colleague, Kevin Sali, recently wrote a guest opinion in the Oregonian about why our current Grand Jury system must change. It’s a great piece. I completely agree. I encourage everyone to read it. Kevin is one of the smartest lawyers I’ve ever known (for a Canuck that is).
But I have few things to add because most non-lawyers who have not served on grand juries have no idea what the grand jury process is and you should:
1. They are secret and one-sided. The defendant isn’t allowed in. The defense lawyer isn’t allowed in. Almost always, the defendant and/or his attorney never gets to see the grand jury notes or learn anything about what happened in grand jury.
2. The “rules” you hear about on Law and Order? Don’t apply in Grand Juries — like hearsay. There is no judge in a grand jury ruling on whether evidence is admissible or not.
3. Most of the time defense lawyers never even know when a witness’s grand jury testimony is inconsistent with their trial testimony. If they did, a defendant would have the opportunity to challenge the credibility of those testifying against him. Doesn’t that seem fair?
4. There is no reason why the current system should exist. The argument that a few elected district attorneys made via a guest opinion in the Oregonian as to why there shouldn’t be transparency in grand jury proceedings?
I hate to sound like my 8-year-old but their argument is dumb. They argue that recording the grand jury witnesses’ testimony would expose these witnesses to harassment and intimidation:
Makes no sense. Why?
A. Because prosecutors are constitutionally mandated to provide defendants with the names of these witnesses and what they are going to testify about once grand jury is done. In trial, these witnesses testify in court with the defendant present.
The guest opinion was frankly insulting to members of the defense bar as it implied that defense lawyers would assist their clients in harassing and intimidating witnesses if the grand jury process changed.
B. There are already existing laws in Oregon which require defense attorneys to redact the contact information of witnesses when giving defendants the documents that provide what the witness will testify about. The same would/could apply in the context of grand jury witnesses.
I get it, the rights of criminal defendants are not all that important to most people.
Until your brother, wife, daughter, or bestie needs one.
In 1991, a random witness videotaped four white police officers from the Los Angeles Police Department violently beating a man named Rodney King with batons, while several other officers stood and watched.
The four officers were charged with Assault. A judge granted the defendant’s motion for a change of venue (something that almost never happens) and the case was moved to predominately white Simi Valley in Ventura County, California.
I will never forget hearing the news that they were acquitted.
Like so many, I couldn’t believe it.
The verdict caused one of the worst riots in our country’s history. 53 people died; over 1000 buildings were destroyed by fire and more than 2000 people were injured.
I was there. Until it became too dangerous to stay.
Of course not all cops are like this. Of course most cops are good people doing the right thing.
So what, when plenty of others are killing innocent young black men.
What do we say to our children?
A current Rogoway Law police brutality case that is currently in litigation is dealing with this very subject. Looks like we are not the only ones facing this issue. A recent write up in The Tampa Bay Times sure makes it seem that way.
Now tell me how this witness is going to be material to the state in trial? If someone can convince that the Washington County DA’s Office is LEGITIMATALLY holding this man for a valid, lawful purpose and not to punish him...that he WILL PROVIDE material testimony essential to the state’s case (as articulated by the statute), I will send Bristol Palin an engagement gift (a legitimate one) and will wear an I Heart Sarah Palin t-shirt for a week.
In August, 2014 the 9th circuit court of appeals found that workers labeled as “independent Contractors” may actually be considered employees depending on how their contracts are written.
Read the opinion here
Just when I start to think that SOME progress has been made with regard to race and class discrimination in this country, an attractive upper middle class blond woman goes missing and BAM, never mind.
Please don’t think that I am making light of the fact that Jennifer Huston, a wife and mother, is missing. I’m very troubled by what I’m hearing and I can only imagine what her family is going through right now. We all should be spreading the word, sharing her photo and any information that will help bring her home.
And I’m glad the media is so focused on Jennifer’s story. But I’m angry about all the of the low income women and/or women of color who disappear every day in this county; who are abducted and sexually assaulted and raped and murdered with little to no media attention.
Often in those cases the media infers that these women simply walked away on their own. One of the worst examples of just how devastating media bias can be is the story Michele Knight; one of the three women locked in a house for ten years in Ohio. No one was looking for her.
No it’s not your grandmothers racism, but it’s still racism.
Let me start by saying that in my opinion, the majority of police officers are decent, hard-working people who have good intentions and often are required to deal with extremely challenging situations.
I often say that for criminal defense attorneys, the testimony of an honest cop at trial who admits to making a mistake or treating someone not as well as they should have, is the fastest way to a guilty verdict.
If you believe that you have been the victim of police misconduct, there are several things you need to know.
The first being that you should contact an experienced civil rights attorney who will evaluate the specific facts and advise you as to whether you should pursue civil or administrative claims.
The second is that in almost every state, there are VERY STRICT time limitations for suing a government entity, such as a police department or city, or its employees.
This is often known as a tort claim notice. Essentially you are required to put these parties on notice (via very specific protocols) of your intent to file claims. If you fail to do so within the applicable time period, you will lose your right to sue.
Meeting the tort claim notice deadline is the first deadline. Once you comply with the tort claim timeline, there are also timelines for filing a civil lawsuit.
Victims of police misconduct usually rely on 42 USCA § 1983; this statute makes it unlawful for anyone acting under the authority of state law to deprive another person of his or her rights under the Constitution or federal law. This includes actions such as:
An unlawful stop, detention or arrest;
Failing to provide medical care while someone is in police custody.
In addition to 1983 claims, individuals may also have common law claims against police officers such as Assault and/or Battery.
Before filing a lawsuit, some states require victims to first pursue administrative remedies such as:
Reporting the incident to the police department’s internal affairs division;
Reporting the incident to the Department of Justice (DOJ);
And to follow the administrative procedures regarding timeliness, cooperating with investigators, providing a statement, etc.
In addition to suing the individual police officers, in some cases it is appropriate to bring claims against their supervisors or the municipality for which they work for things like failing to train, supervise or discipline police officers in order to avoid civil rights violations.
Whether wrongdoing occurred is the first question.
Damages include physical and emotional injuries, expenses, and costs associated with the incident.
Depending on the case, punitive damages may be appropriate against the individual police officers to punish the police officer for malicious, deliberate and/or intentional conduct in an amount sufficient to punish him and to deter others from committing similar violations.
If you have been the victim of police misconduct, you should contact an attorney right away. If you don’t know an attorney, often the state bar organization where you live can provide you with the names of experienced attorneys in your area.
If you sustained physical injuries, make sure to have someone take photographs of those injuries right away. Make sure to obtain copies of any medical records documenting your injuries or treatment. Keep any receipts for out of pocket expenses you pay that relates to the incident such as prescriptions or medical copayments.
And finally, one of the most important and critical things you should do is to immediately write out a detailed summary of what happened. It’s amazing how quickly we forget critical facts that can help your attorney prevail in court. Don’t rely on memory. Write it down and do so as soon as possible.
As is the case in many jurisdictions, employment in Oregon is “at will.” At will employment generally means that an employer is free to hire or fire an employee without reason or for virtually any reason absent a few exceptions. Some exceptions to at will employment include:
- An employer cannot fire or discriminate against an employee because that employee is a member of a protected class such as age, race, sexual orientation, or gender.
- An employer cannot retaliate against an employee by firing, demoting or unfairly treating an employee for reporting unsafe or unlawful conduct at work. For example, if an employee reports that a company’s financial records are being altered in order to pay less taxes, and that employee is subsequently fired for reporting such conduct, he or she would likely have a claim. This is often referred to as a “whistleblowing” claim.
- If an employee has an employment contract with specified terms, the employee may have a breach of contract claim if the employer does not fulfill its contract terms.
- If an employer fires an employee in violation of public policy, the employee may have a legal cause of action. For example, it is unlawful for an employer to fire an employee for serving on jury duty, complying with a subpoena to appear in court or cooperating with a government investigation.
Earlier this week, Nike prevailed in a $27 million lawsuit brought by a former employee who alleged that he was wrongfully terminated for whistleblowing. Douglas Ossanna, a former Nike electrician, alleged that Nike fired him in retaliation for reporting unsafe working conditions.
Nike said that Ossanna was fired because he snuck his son and two others into the Bo Jackson Fitness Center to play hoops.