Posts Tagged 'settlement'

Mass Mayor Says No to Funding Police Legal Fees

When politicians talk about cutting budgets it’s amazing that they go after things like teachers and firefighters. Wouldn’t it make more sense to cut the needless expenses brought on by agressively incompetent and/or abusive civil servants?

As the Eagle Tribune reports, the mayor of Lawrence, Mass., William Lantigua, has the right idea: He says the city will no longer pay the legal bills for police officers who are being sued for misconduct charges. Over the past three years, the city has paid $1.2 million defending police officers in civil cases. (Twenty new police officers could be hired for that money.)

Instead, Lantigua says he will hold to the police unions’ contract, which says the city only has to pay the $5,000 retainer for a patrolman and $7,500 for a superior officer. Lantigua says officers have two options when they are being sued — to use one of the three city attorneys or have their unions pay for the defense.

Police brutality cases are especially costly, and there six lawsuits going to trial in the next six months. Lawrence recently settled one case, paying the plaintiff $400,000. So you can imagine, at this pace, we’re talking about the city potentially paying out over $2 million this year.

This idea is especially relevant in the case of photographers’ rights too, because the courts almost always respect those rights. To wit: a Fox TV camera operator got $1.2 million from the City of Los Angeles, Antonio Musumeci recently got an undisclosed settlement from the federal government, and infamous Amtrak photographer Duane Kerzic reportedly got a five-figure sum from the national railroad.

Really, this is a no-brainer. Spending millions on these lawsuits is just egregious waste. And in many, many cases it is entirely preventable. Some police officers don’t seem to understand the severity of abusing their authority because there are no personal repercussions. If the city foots the bill, and they get a new job, where is the disincentive?

Settlement Ends Harassment at Federal Buildings (We Hope)

Who wants to shoot some pics in front of a federal building? Because now the government has acknowledged, through a settlement with the New York Civil Liberties Union, that you are allowed to do just that. Funny, you say, I thought that was already my right? Well, it’s not that simple. The NYCLU sued the government on behalf of photographer Antonio Musumeci, who was arrested in November 2009 after recording a protest at the Daniel Patrick Moynihan Federal Courthouse in Manhattan.

“Not only will this settlement end harassment of photographers outside federal courthouses, it will free people to photograph and film outside of all federal buildings,” said NYCLU Associate Legal Director Christopher Dunn, lead counsel in the case. “The regulation at issue in this case applies to all federal buildings, not only courthouses, so this settlement should extend to photography near all federal buildings nationwide.”

Sounds like a whole lot of government employees are going to have to be retrained.

Source: NYCLU

Oakland Schools District Pays Photog

Do you remember Oakland Schools Police Chief Art Michel who went ballistic on Oakland Tribune news photographer Jane Tyska in 2008? How could you forget.

The Oakland Unified School District just settled a lawsuit and paid Tyksa $99,000 for her troubles. Yep, your tax dollars at work, Oakland. Aren’t you glad when your city officials mess up you pay for it?

From Tyksa’s statement:

“I’m very happy that the OUSD has taken responsibility for the actions of its former police chief. If it wasn’t for the video I shot, this abuse of power would never have come to light. It’s now illegal in a dozen states to record police activity, and this case is an excellent example of why that right needs to be protected. One of the reasons people often fear cameras is because they tell the truth.”
(Meanwhile Michel retired in 2009 and no doubt takes in a sweet, sweet pension. No consequences, no repercussions, no problem.)

Article from Crime Scene/SFGate.com



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