In May 2017 Pete White of the Los Angeles Community Action Network filed suit against the city of Los Angeles and the LAPD for violating his civil rights by arresting him for filming a homeless encampment cleanup. Last month White filed a number of motions seeking to exclude evidence that the City of LA sought to present to the jury. In the last week a bunch more paper has been filed in the case, including the City’s oppositions to those motions, White’s replies to those oppositions, and a lot of other more technical material. All of this and more is available here on Archive.Org and there are direct links to everything and some transcriptions after the break.
As before the most interesting material here has to do with the motions in limine, and in particular the City’s responses to them. If I’ve seen a more offensive and more presumptuous set of pleadings filed anywhere I couldn’t tell you where it was. The City stoops here to asserting, e.g., that Pete White has forfeited his civil rights because he swore at the cops who arrested them and repeatedly called one of them a murderer because he fired the bullet that killed Charly Keunang.
The author of these motions, presumably deputy city attorney Thomas H. Peters, explicitly blames Pete White and the LA Community Action Network for making the City’s homeless problem much worse. They repeatedly argue that Pete White hates the LAPD and therefore they should be allowed to present to the jury his past arrests and use of language that these snowflake cops find offensive. The arguments are forensically bankrupt and disgusting, the plaintiff’s replies are scathing and convincing, and there are links and quotes, as I said, after the break.
↪ Plaintiff’s memorandum of facts and law — This is an excellent summary of the case and the issues. It’s well worth reading in its entirety, although I don’t have time to transcribe it here.
↪ Defendants’ Opposition to motion to exclude evidence of past arrests — This is a response to this motion. Here’s the bankrupt level of the argument:
It is highly unlikely that Plaintiff or any of his witnesses will come forward and say that they respect the Los Angeles Police Department. Indeed, Plaintiff and the individuals in his organization have an extensive history of interfering with the lawful actions of the Los Angeles Police Department, as well as the Bureau of Sanitation, the Bureau of Street Services and despite their intentions to help the homeless, they have made the homeless situation far worse. Thus, plaintiff’s criminal history and the history of his witnesses should be admissible to show bias and a lack of credibility.
The argument here, the statement about “plaintiff’s criminal history”, has a fatal flaw, which is that Pete White has never been convicted, hence has no criminal history. This is made very clear in the plaintiff’s reply to this slab of nonsense.
↪ Defendants’ Opposition to motion to exclude evidence of past lawsuits — This is an opposition to this motion here. The City’s whole argument here is summed up in one of the subheads: FAIRNESS DICTATES THAT DEFENDANTS SHOULD BE ALLOWED TO MENTION PLAINTIFF’S PRIOR LAWSUITS AGAINST THE LOS ANGELES POLICE DEPARTMENT.
In their response the plaintiffs point out that “fairness” is not a standard for introducing evidence,1 but even if it were, plaintiffs don’t intend to introduce evidence of every similar lawsuit against the LAPD, but they will if the City brings in evidence about LA CAN’s lawsuits:
Defendants oppose Plaintiff’s motion to exclude evidence of prior litigation on fairness grounds. Fairness is not the standard for admitting evidence. Evidence must first meet the relevance requirement under Fed. R. Evid. 401.
Even when weighing fairness under Fed. R. Evid. 403, Defendants’ argument fails. The inquiry under Rule 403 is not whether evidence should be admitted in fairness, but whether fairness dictates that the evidence be excluded when its probative value is substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice.
Thus, fairness dictates just the opposite of what Defendants argue. Plaintiff does not intend to bring in evidence of past lawsuits against the Los Angeles Police Department where it has arrested other citizen journalists from videotaping, unless Defendants open the door to doing so. To allow Defendants to bring in evidence of past lawsuits would needlessly complicate the trial.
↪ Defendants’ Opposition to motion to exclude bodycam evidence — This is an opposition to this plaintiff’s motion. Here is the plaintiff’s response to this defense motion.
↪ Defendants’ Opposition to motion to exclude evidence of plaintiff’s cursing — This is in opposition to this motion. Here’s the plaintiff’s response to this opposition. This is by far the most idiotic piece of nonsense filed in this case filled with idiotic filings by the defense. The argument is essentially that Pete White is planning to tell the jury he’s a good person but he called the officers mean names after they arrested him so actually he deserves to be convicted of whatever the perfectly nice civilized professional upstanding friendly officers arrested him for, so freaking there. You think I’m kidding, perhaps? Read it, friends, and weep for our City, that’s governed by such morons:
The officers involved in the arrest of Pete White were at all times, professional, patient and acted lawfully. Pete White is going to try to have the jury believe that he was arrested for no reason, that he is a model citizen, that he cooperated with the police and that the Police need to be punished. In fact, Pete White is asking for punitive damages against Sergeant Kinney, who did nothing more than direct two officers to make a lawful arrest of White.
However, it is imperative that the jury hear about Pete White’s conduct after he was arrested. Indeed, he is claiming damages for having to do a “perp walk” to the station, and for having to wait to be booked and processed at the station. Thus, his conduct, post – arrest is relevant. His actions during that time are relevant and will show the jury a complete picture of how the police handled this incident, and what they had to deal with:
1- Pete White told the arresting officer “You are a piece of s###.”
2- Pete White told the arresting officer “I don’t give a f### about you.”
3- Pete White continued to swear and called one of the arresting officers who had been involved in a shooting (and exonerated by a jury) “You are a murderer!” over and over.
4- Pete White said “Are you going to murder me too?”
5- Pete White said to Kinney: “You are going down – you are going to lose rank Sergeant Kinney – are you ready to lose rank?”
6- Pete White was shouting at the top of his lungs, attempting to incite others, repeatedly yelling: “This is the killer of brother Africa! He is a murderer! I am being arrested for video taping”
Pete White was not a model citizen that day. He did not cooperate with the police. He swore at them, he berated them, he threatened them, he was offensive and he was completely out of control. Defendant Kinney and the officers who arrested White, on the other hand, were professional, were calm, and were not retaliating. The jury should be told the whole story – not the sanitized version that Pete White wants them to hear. Allowing Pete White to portray himself as a “good guy” and a “champion of justice” without mentioning his post arrest conduct would be highly prejudicial to defendants. Plaintiff claims this is a case about the First Amendment. The jury should hear about how Pete White chose to exercise his own First Amendment rights on that day.
I mean, where does one start with this crap? Believe it or not, Thomas Peters or whoever penned this nonsense, it is possible to be a model citizen and still call a cop a piece of shit. If a cop is acting like a piece of shit it’s a freaking civic duty to say so. And similarly with the rest of these accusations.
If the cop killed Charly Keunang well, Pete White isn’t the only person who thinks that was murder. No one thinks murderers are never exonerated by juries, especially if they’re white and their victims are black. Again, speaking such things out loud is not the opposite of being a good guy, being a champion of justice. People who feel the truth and don’t say it are not good guys or model citizens. Police who think it’s part of their job to decide who’s a model citizen or a champion of justice based on whether they find their opinions offensive are not themselves model citizens. They’re the opposite of model citizens.
And no one really expects cops to understand these things, but only to follow the rules laid down for them. Thus lawyers for the City of Los Angeles who think any of this crap makes sense are worse than all these because they ought to know better. And that’s all I have to say about this stuff. Below are links to the rest of the new paper.
↪ Plaintiff’s proposed voir dire
↪ Joint exhibit stipulation
↪ Plaintiff’s proposed statement of case
↪ Joint proposed jury instructions
↪ Plaintiff’s disputed proposed jury instructions
↪ Plaintiff’s notice of lodging of proposed pretrial conference order
↪ Plaintiff’s proposed pretrial conference order
↪ Plaintiff’s response to opposition to motion in limine to exclude past arrests
↪ Plaintiff’s response to opposition to motion in limine to exclude past lawsuits
↪ Plaintiff’s response to opposition to motion in limine to exclude bodycam evidence
↪ Plaintiff’s response to opposition to motion in limine to exclude evidence of plaintiff cursing
↪ Joint witness list
↪ Defendants’ memorandum of facts and law
Image of Deputy City Attorney Thomas H. Peters is ©2018 MichaelKohlhaas.Org and is kissin’ cousins with this lil Thomas H. Peters here.
- Nor should it be. The rules of evidence are the standard for introducing evidence. It may sound counterintuitive to say that fairness has no place in court, but it’s actually a single judge’s idea of fairness that has no place. The rules are the product of a centuries-long democratic process and are for that reason alone more fair than whatever a random federal judge feels on some random day is fair.