We’re not against the police. We’re not against the police department, but we are against police who commit misconduct (and those who help cover it up)
A lot of attention has been focused on the District Attorney’s office but just across the way in the City Attorney’s office there’s some shady business going on that’s worthy of discussion.
For those who don’t know much about their local government, how it works or even who is in office, the Los Angeles City Attorney is an elected position—four years to be exact. The City Attorney among other things is responsible for prosecuting all of the misdemeanor criminal offenses that take place within city boundaries. The city attorney also serves as General Counsel and provides legal counsel for the city and represents it in civil actions. Civil actions as in the cases of families of those who were killed by the police, Black firefighters who sue the city for racial harassment, discrimination and retaliation, cops who get caught spouting off at the mouth about killing another cop and then sues the city to get their job back. Yes, those types of
The current City Attorney is Mike Feuer. Feuer was elected as Los Angeles’ City Attorney in 2013 after defeating incumbent City Attorney Carmen Trutanich. This after a failed run in 2001 against Rocky Delgadillo where he lost in the runoff with Delgadillo taking 52% to Feuer’s 48%. Feuer was previously elected to three two-year terms in the California State Assembly, representing the 42nd Assembly District. He was elected in 2006 on the Democratic ticket, and reelected in 2008 and 2010.
Feuer served as a member of the Los Angeles City Council from 1995 to 2001, representing the 5th Council District.
He set legal history in December 2013 by successfully convicted a Black Harvard graduate of being an “uneducated con artist” after having her Harvard credentials excluded. He rewrote California law by convicted her of misdemeanor theft of over $100,000. Prior to that conviction, amounts over $950 were considered a felony. He was so incensed that the District Attorney’s office refused to press charges that he used three special prosecutors over 72-court appearances to secure the conviction, which is under appeal.
Feuer was previously elected to three two-year terms in the California State Assembly, representing the 42nd Assembly District. He was elected in 2006 on the Democratic ticket, and reelected in 2008 and 2010.
Feuer served as a member of the Los Angeles City Council from 1995 to 2001, representing the 5th Council District.
Oh and he is married to Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Gail Ruderman Feuer.
Now if you ask Mike and his public relations team, he has brought to the office of the City Attorney tough and effective prosecution with initiatives to improve the quality of life throughout the city. This would include nearly tripling the Neighborhood Prosecutor Program, launching a broad neighborhood school safety initiative, forming a strike force to combat illegal dumping, taking on wage theft, tackling substandard housing, cracking down on patient dumping, closing more than half the City’s unlawful medical marijuana dispensaries, instituting a program to protect immigrants from fraud, targeting polluters and advanced environmental justice.
That very well may be all true, but he’s also done some other questionable stuff that you won’t find listed in his accomplishments on the City Attorney’s website and that’s what we’re going to discuss today.
This past week after 8 days of trial, the Los Angeles City Attorney’s office failed to convict 47-year-old Patricia Beers of obstructing the sidewalk. Yes, you read that correctly—an 8-day jury trial to prosecute someone who allegedly obstructed the sidewalk.
Ms. Beers’ case comes out the notorious November 26, 2014 Ferguson protest arrests on 6th and Hope streets in downtown Los Angeles.
Ms. Beers’, who is well-known in the circle of those of who protest the police over brutality and killings in Los Angeles as a livestreamer and independent journalist, was arrested with over 100 other people that night, including myself.
While the City Attorney’s levied resisting arrest charges against me, Ms. Beers was charged with obstructing the sidewalk. And like me, Ms. Beers’ refused to accept any sort of a “deal” from the City Attorney’s office in lieu of a trial.
So the trial began with Deputy City Attorney Jennifer Waxler for the prosecution of Jim (James) Gates from the Los Angeles County Public Defender’s Office for the defense. The case was heard by Judge Gustavo Sztraicher and the jury was made up of 6 men and 6 women that included one Black male.
While the city was up in arms over a bomb threat emailed into the Los Angeles Unified School District, the City Attorney’s office trotted in no less than two captains, two lieutenants, one sergeant, one detective and one police officer to help prove that Ms. Beers had illegally obstructed a sidewalk.
Let’s see, there was Captain Brian Pratt, Captain Jeff Bert, Lieutenant Brian Morrison, Lieutenant Richard Stabile, Sergeant Nicholas Milazzo, Detective Danny Tagliere and Officer Carlos Cruz.
The City Attorney’s office also planned to have Detective Frank Arredondo, Sergeant Eric Lee and Officer Curtis Davis testify but for whatever reason didn’t call them as witnesses.
According to Ms. Beers’ trial notes, the City Attorney’s office made it clear they intended to show photographs which police witnesses testified that a team of detectives spent a crazy amount of time in attempting to identify defendants by viewing videos and matching them up with arrest photos. By crazy amount of time I mean 20 police officers for three months at ten hours a day. Their words, not mine.
I’ll also add that the City Attorney’s office then spent an extraordinary amount of time trying to limit the testimony of the defense’s one and only witness, which would be yours truly.
The City Attorney’s office didn’t want the jury to know that I worked in politics or with a police union. They didn’t want the jury to know that I was arrested, charged with resisting arrest or that my case was dismissed.
Ms Beers’ noted that “the prosecution had concerns about witness for the defense, Jasmyne Cannick, having personal opinions. She said Ms. Cannick is a “protester” and a “political blogger,” and has written about LAPD, the protest, and about the prosecutor, Ms. Waxler. The prosecution asked that the judge, ‘reign in’ her testimony.’”
The City Attorney’s office said that a “cyber team” had watched livestream videos and copied tweets and Facebook posts to collect intelligence about the protest.
In the end the defense was allowed to present to the jury my professional experience. I was not however allowed to testify that I had been arrested, charged or that my case was dismissed.
The center of the prosecution’s line of questioning during my cross-examination had to do with whether or not I had gone to the police department first to get a media credential to cover the protest to which I simply replied, who does that and that’s not how it works. I think I was on the stand no more than 25 minutes.
But if you think that’s crazy, keep reading.
Shortly after the jury left the courtroom for the day on Thursday, December 17, the City Attorney’s office made an attempt to have Ms. Beers remanded into custody for blogging about her trial. You read right.
The City Attorney’s office literally petitioned the court to have Ms. Beers arrested for taking notes during her trial everyday and posting them online after her trial. Trial note that you can read here.
The judge did not grant the City Attorney’s office request, but this is how low this office has sunk. There was no gag order whatsoever on Ms. Beers’ trial. Anyone could have come in during her trial and reported on what they observed as she did.
The jury went into deliberations at 1:30 p.m. on Friday, December 18 and at 4:30 p.m. came back with a unanimous decision in favor of the defendant—not guilty.
All in all, it was a colossal waste of money, time, energy and resources to convict someone for allegedly obstructing the sideway. It would seem to me that the City Attorney’s could and should be focused on much bigger issues facing Angelenos. Perhaps cracking down on the folks on Craigslist who are swindling renters out of their hard earned money for credit checks for apartments that aren’t theirs to rent or taking rental deposits on places that aren’t even for rent. It’s just a thought.
I am not saying that the City Attorney’s office should not be in the business of prosecuting people who break the law. What I am saying is that when picking and choosing who to prosecute and for what, I think that obstructing the sidewalk during a protest where the police themselves have blocked the streets and sidewalk and restricted the movement of everyone in the vicinity is a lost cause–as was the case in Ms. Beers trial. When your deputy city attorney walks into court in your name with stacks and stacks of pages from the defendant’s blogs, Facebook and Twitter posts after trolling their social media accounts just to prove that they don’t like her and/or wrote about what was happening to them in their own trial all in an attempt to actually have them arrested, I think that’s an extreme abuse of power among other things. Jurors have a way of seeing right through that.
I mean this is the same City Attorney’s office that tried unsuccessfully twice to get restraining orders on behalf of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Police Chief Charlie Beck to keep activists from seeking meetings with them.
This is also the same City Attorney’s office that seemingly either refuses to settle with or keeps appealing the jury verdicts of Black police officers and firefighters who sue the city for racial harassment, a hostile work environment, discrimination and retaliation but can’t sign the settlement papers fast enough for their white counterparts.
Feur’s office will also be intricately involved in whether or not disgraced ex-LAPD detective Frank Lyga gets the $300,000 in compensatory and statutory damages, special damages, back pay, front pay and reinstatement that he’s looking for.
I would be remiss if I didn’t point out all of the City Attorney’s fighting to keep the video of the LAPD assaulting Clinton Alford in South L.A. under wraps.
And don’t even get me started on all of the cases involving the death of someone at the hands of the LAPD. Do not pass go, do not collect $2 million, go straight to trial.
But the battle is far from over as City Attorney Mike Feuer will be attempting to convict even more protesters on even more silly charges after the New Year. There are trials in the works for not only obstructing the sidewalk but if you can believe it, going out of the wrong door at LAPD headquarters during a police commission meeting.
Why doesn’t City Controller Ron Galperin do an audit about that? We need an audit on the amount of money being spent to prosecute people for all of these frivolous charges connected to those who protest the police in Los Angeles.
Mike Feuer is up for reelection in 2017.
Maybe now given all of the shenanigans coming out of the City Attorney’s office more attention will be paid to both the office of City Attorney as well as who we elect to serve on the bench as a judge.
Hats off to Attorney Gates for defeating the City Attorney’s office and to the jury for seeing the case for what it was.