A very peculiar pleading in this most peculiar of cases hit PACER last night, in . It seems that PVE police chief Jeff Kepley retired at some point recently. Since he’s being sued in his official capacity rather than his personal capacity, it appears that Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 25(d) requires that Jeff Kepley be dropped from the suit and his successor named instead:
Public Officers; Death or Separation from Office. An action does not abate when a public officer who is a party in an official capacity dies, resigns, or otherwise ceases to hold office while the action is pending. The officer’s successor is automatically substituted as a party. Later proceedings should be in the substituted party’s name, but any misnomer not affecting the parties’ substantial rights must be disregarded. The court may order substitution at any time, but the absence of such an order does not affect the substitution.
So, very reasonably, it seems, plaintiffs’ attorney Kurt Franklin filed a Suggestion to the Court that the acting Chief, who seems to be Mark Velez at this point, be substituted in.1 This seems to be fairly inconsequential in that the rule seems to say that the substitution happens irrespective of whether anyone acknowledges it, but it also seems like the kind of thing one would want to tell the court about. If it comes up later and one knew about it and didn’t tell the court, how weird is that going to look?
Not that the City of PVE is worried about such niceties. As with everything to do with the City’s involvement in this case, the events leading up to this filing have an air of shady incompetence, evasion, and deception. It hasn’t yet been proven that this weirdo little City on a Hill has anything to hide, but they surely do act as if they do. So what’s one more little item like not telling the court that the freaking chief of police retired?
NOTE: Because I was asked, I thought I’d just announce that I’m sorry for the lack of cartoons. For the next week I’m forced to use a substandard computer. The cartoons will return on or about September 5 if all goes as planned.
And tonight the City of PVE and Jeff Kepley filed their opposition to that motion. The most important item is this memorandum of points and authorities which has, as these all seem to, a good discussion of the facts of the dispute.
The main issue seems to be, though, that the plaintiffs’ asked for material from the personal phones of PVE cops and the cop union intervened and said via their lawyer, Howard A. Liberman, that they weren’t going to hand it over because it would violate the officers’ privacy and also it would violate their contract with the City of PVE. The City also argues that they can’t hand it over since they don’t have control over it.
A constant theme in the Lunada Bay Boys zillionaire surf thuggery case has been the glacially like-teeth-pulling pace at which the Bay Boys1 have complied with their discovery obligations. The parties have had innumerable telephonic hearings with the Honorable Rozella Oliver, magistrate judge in the case, who has had order meet-and-confers, and order the parties to submit briefs on their attempts to get through discovery, and issue orders, and issue even more orders.
Well today, at least with respect to defendants Sang Lee and Jeff Kepley, matters have evidently reached the point that the plaintiffs have filed motions to compel production of discovery materials and they’re also asking for fees and costs. Here are copies of the two motions along with associated so-called proposed joint statements, which are actually more interesting, containing as they do the facts behind the motions:
The issues, in short, are as follows. With respect to Sang Lee, he improperly withheld text messages, produced an unintelligible privilege log, lied about what he redacted, and so on. With respect to Jeff Kepley, he produced the wrong stuff, produced it in the form of unsearchable image files,2 made improper arguments for not producing stuff, and, crucially, never produced the phone records of various PVE cops who are alleged to be asshole buddies with the Bay Boys.
So a couple weeks ago defendants the City of PVE and its seemingly erstwhile chief of police Jeff Kepley (collectively known as “the City defendants”) filed a motion asking the court for summary judgment. This was the first of a long line of such motions filed by all the other defendants. And this afternoon the plaintiffs responded to the City defendants’ motion with over fifty documents.
There’s no way I can describe all of these individually, and I even had to write a script to generate links for all of them, which you can find after the break. The links are functional but not pretty, and you can find them with highly selected brief descriptions after the break.
Today the City of Palos Verdes Estates and its police chief, Jeff Kepley who, along with the Lunada Bay Boys themselves, are defendants in the monumental anti-localism case brought by Cory Spencer and his co-plaintiffs, filed a massive slew of papers with the court. The main item is this motion for summary judgment, asking the judge to obliterate the case against PVE and Kepley.
The rest of the paper filed consists of various exhibits and proposed orders in support of this motion, and is extremely interesting as it contains huge selections from the depositions of Cory Spencer and Diana Reed. There are links to all the new stuff after the break along with brief descriptions. There is presently a hearing on this motion scheduled for August 21, 2017, at 10:00 a.m in James Otero’s courtroom 10C in the First Street Federal Courthouse.
The merits of the motion are beyond my amateurish capacity to discuss, although they make interesting reading if you’re so inclined. The main argument seems to be that the plaintiffs didn’t really suffer any harm, and the City didn’t have a duty to do anything more than what they did to protect them. Also, the following freakish little argument did catch my eye. My general feeling is that the appearance of “gang-affiliated criminal groups from south Los Angeles” in government-generated discourse is irrefutable evidence that they’re lying. But judge for yourself:
A number of the above-described events (as well as Plaintiff Spencer and Reed’s alleged incidents discussed under the factual background above) took place during a time the City was experiencing a substantial increase in residential burglaries by organized gangs or gang-affiliated criminal group from south Los Angeles. It is typical for the City to have zero to three burglaries per month, but in December 2015 the City experienced 20 to 25 burglaries. In fact, a number of residents complained about the amount of law enforcement resources allocated toward patrolling Lunada Bay, as well as the tough stance Chief Kepley took against local surfers harassing or intimidating other surfers. Nonetheless, the City directed law enforcement resources to ensuring access to Lunada Bay and preventing harassment. Chief Kepley opined that given so few incidents at Lunada Bay and the burglary spree in the City that the Police Department efforts were appropriate and reasonable in scope and size.
At that time Judge Oliver ordered the parties to brief her thoroughly on the matter. Well, it seems that the City decided to just hand over the report rather than fight about it any more. Hence they all filed a joint stipulation asking the judge not to make them write the briefs any more. You’ll find a transcription of the stipulation after the break. It’s not by any means clear that we’ll be able to get our hands on the report itself, although often discovery material turns up in the exhibits to later motions, so maybe we will.