The latest episode in the ongoing nightmare that is the discovery process in this case is summarized in this minute order setting the schedule for dealing with the plaintiffs’ motion for sanctions against Charlie and Frank Ferrara and Sang Lee. You can read a transcription after the break to get the details, but essentially everyone has to meet and confer and a strict briefing schedule is set. There is an in-person hearing scheduled for October 12 at 10 a.m. in Courtroom F on the ninth floor of the Spring Street Federal Courthouse.
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.
Last Thursday the Honorable Rozella Oliver, magistrate judge in the Lunada Bay Boys zillionaire surf thuggery case, ordered various defendants to quit taking the piss and get cracking with their discovery obligations. In particular, the order filed stated with respect to defendant Sang Lee that:
The parties are also directed to file any meet and confer letters regarding the dispute and the privilege log served by Defendant Lee at least 24 hours before the next telephonic hearing.
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.