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Appellate Court Rules Against City Misconduct

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  • victoryusa@jail4judges.org
    J.A.I.L. News Journal ______________________________________________________ Los Angeles, California August 11, 2004
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 11, 2004
      J.A.I.L. News Journal
      Los Angeles, California                                          August 11, 2004
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      Appellate Court Rules Against City Misconduct
      A J.A.I.L. subscriber, Pastor Robert (Roby) Roberson of Wenatchee WA. is one of a few victims of corruption who can praise the ruling of a court in his favor. He sent J.A.I.L. the below opinion written by The Wenatchee World newspaper and a report on the case itself. We're happy for Pastor Roby, but we remind everyone that an occasional honest court decision does not eliminate the need for J.A.I.L. to be in place nevertheless-- to keep judges honest!
      ----- Original Message -----
      Sent: Saturday, August 07, 2004 7:49 PM
      Subject: Re: Ignorance Justifies Dysfunction

      (Quoting from our recent JNJ):
      1. First, JAILers must "act in an orderly manner to dismantle [public] ignorance" by educating the people of the root problem (judicial corruption).
      2. Then, J.A.I.L. (when in effect) will "reverse the dysfunction [of government] to reconstruct Liberty and [Security] from government [intrusion] to achieve Happiness and Prosperity, to be Free, and to Live Free from tyranny, oppression and usurpation."  (It is our DUTY to... provide new guards for [our] future security. -Declaration of Independence). 
      (Pastor Roby): How's this for a big gain? We are working at taking them down. Stay tuned

      The following is the opinion of The Wenatchee World and its Editorial Board: Editor and Publisher Rufus Woods, Managing Editor Gary Jasinek and Editorial Page Editor Tracy Warner.

      Sunday - August 8, 2004

      Once again a court in high standing has shamed the city of Wenatchee for deplorable conduct in the wake of the infamous 1994-95 child sex-ring cases. The state Court of Appeals upheld more than $700,000 in penalties against the city for withholding key evidence in a civil rights lawsuit brought by the Rev. Robert "Roby" Roberson and others.

      We would not presume to give the city's attorneys advice, but should say that local citizens must be growing weary of the repeated disgrace brought by the mistakes of its government, and by attempts to cover up those mistakes. The acts that brought this fine are particularly galling. Prior to a previous trial, the city was ordered to hand over the personnel records of Detective Bob Perez, the chief investigator whose conduct is the focus of the lawsuits. It delivered most of the records, but overlooked a few, which coincidentally contained the information most likely to damage the city's case. Withheld were medical files that may have indicated Perez suffered from mental disabilities, and pre-employment screening files that included a polygraph test. Spokane Superior Court Judge Michael Donohue, who assessed the fine last year, said he thought the city withheld the information deliberately, and that it would have had a significant impact on the trial's outcome.

      So, while the city was on trial for abusing the justice system, it was abusing the justice system. The appeals court agreed that the city's protestations to the contrary were "without merit." The city's offense voided the result of a 13-week trial. Whatever your opinion of the merits of the multiple sex-ring lawsuits still pending against this city, it is difficult to argue that this kind of action does not deserve sanction.

      Of course, the fine is potentially only the beginning. Because of the city's offense there will be a new trial in the lawsuit. The defendants seeks tens of millions in damages. Barring an unlikely settlement, all this evidence, including the evidence in those missing files, will be bared anew.

      It shows, if nothing else, the lasting effect of a single mistake. A decade ago the city's police chief had an opportunity to take Perez off these investigations, when his unsuitability should have been clear and the legal dangers obvious. Had that simple move taken place, chances are good no one would be discussing these cases now.

      More mistakes followed, though, and now we have no idea how much the aftermath of this fiasco will cost the city. It is clear that after a decade the end of the legal process is nowhere in sight. It would be best for the city and its battered reputation not to do anything more to prolong it.


      The Wenatchee World

         A1 Story - Wednesday - August 4, 2004

      Sex-abuse case to be retried, court rules: City of Wenatchee ordered to pay $718,000

      By Michelle Partridge, World staff writer

      WENATCHEE — The state Court of Appeals has upheld a lower court decision restoring a major civil rights lawsuit against the city of Wenatchee over how the 1994-95 child sex-abuse investigations were handled and ordering the city to pay more than $700,000 in penalties.

      The state court ruled Tuesday that Spokane County Superior Court Judge Michael Donohue did not err when he fined the city for withholding employment records of former Wenatchee Police Detective Bob Perez in lawsuits stemming from the cases. The records indicated Perez was suffering from a serious mental disability at the time he was conducting the investigations, attorneys have said in court.

      Donohue also was justified in vacating two earlier jury verdicts, and allowing a new civil rights trial to be brought by East Wenatchee Pastor Robert “Roby” Roberson, Honnah Sims of Malaga and other co-plaintiffs. The ruling also restores Perez and former Wenatchee Police Chief Ken Badgley as defendants.

      According to attorneys representing Roberson, about $125,000 in interest could be tacked onto the $718,000 Donohue levied against the city in January 2003.

      “We’re very pleased with the decision,” said Auburn attorney Tyler Firkins, who represents Roberson, Sims, Donna Rodriguez, and their families.

      “We believe that the Court of Appeals strongly stated and agreed with Judge Donohue that the city intentionally withheld documents in violation of the judge’s orders of discovery. We feel the plaintiffs have been vindicated by this decision,” he said.

      In a 13-week trial held in 1998, a King County jury found the city and other defendants did not violate the civil rights of Roberson, Sims and the others. Plaintiffs had sought $60 million in damages. In 2001, a Spokane County jury found the city was negligent in the investigation of Roberson and his wife, Connie, but didn’t award any damages.

      In his ruling last year, Donohue threw out the earlier verdicts and found Perez’s records were intentionally withheld from the court and Roberson’s attorneys by the city. The judge said the records were of great importance and could have changed the case’s direction. The documents included results of a pre-employment polygraph test and separate medical and state Department of Employment Security files. Police officials also expressed concerns about Perez’s fitness for duty. The records surfaced in 2002 in a separate case.

      The city argued that it did not intentionally withhold the information, and that the action did not hurt the plaintiffs’ case during the trials.

      But the state appellate court ruled Tuesday the city’s argument “is without merit,” the violation was “substantial,” and the withheld files were “material to the plaintiffs’ fair presentation of their case at the time of trial.”

      The state appellate court, consisting of judges Frank L. Kurtz, Dennis Sweeney and Kenneth Kato, wrote that “a new trial was the appropriate sanction for the city’s willful failure to comply” with a court order to turn over the documents.

      The appellate judges also ruled that Perez and Badgley could still be held as parties to the lawsuit, and thus liable for damages. The two had been dismissed from personal liability during the two earlier civil trials.

      The city has 20 days to petition the appellate court to review Tuesday’s decision, or appeal the decision to the state Supreme Court.

      The city’s attorney, Patrick McMahon, said city officials have not yet reviewed the decision or decided how to proceed.

      “At this stage we don’t agree with the decision,” he said. “But we’ll sit down and see what’s the appropriate action to take.”

      Asked whether he thought the city might try to settle the case out of court before another trial could begin, Firkins said, “We haven’t had terrific luck in that regard, so we don’t hold out any hope of that happening.”

      The 1994-95 investigations led to the felony convictions of 25 people in Wenatchee and East Wenatchee. Since then, 18 people have had their convictions overturned or accepted plea bargains to lesser charges. Four served out their sentences and three received suspended sentences.

      Roberson, his wife, Sims, and Rodriguez were never convicted of any sex crimes.

      Michelle Partridge can be reached at 664-7152 or by e-mail at partridge@...






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