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Dec 2010
The City Attorney’s defense of LAPD officers deserves recognition and thanks

In the course of conducting our business and advocating for our members on many fronts, we can sometimes be remiss in not taking the opportunity to thank the dedicated attorneys who work day in and day out to defend the men and women of the LAPD. We’d like to take this opportunity to express our gratitude to the Office of the City Attorney, specifically its Police Litigation Unit (PLU), which has been defending the Department and the City for over 19 years.

We would also like to extend a special thanks to Supervising City Attorney Cory Brente, who’s been with the City Attorney’s Office for nearly 20 years now. Cory and the Police Litigation Unit have dedicated themselves to the representation and defense of Los Angeles police officers in civil lawsuits. Brente’s team has successfully defended hundreds of officers in state and federal courts, and we are extremely grateful to have them in our officers’ corner.

Among the PLU’s successes this year is its victorious defense of LAPD officers and detectives in two civil cases with recent verdicts.

In the first case, Brente led the defense against a civil lawsuit brought by a woman alleging excessive force by officers in the 2008 Crenshaw-area shooting death of her husband. Even though the shooting had been thoroughly investigated by the District Attorney's Office, which found no grounds for prosecution of the officers, she was not dissuaded from filing the suit. Ultimately, the facts, evidence and deft legal work by Brente’s team persuaded a Los Angeles Superior Court jury to find in favor of the officers, clearing them of the charges and shielding the City’s general fund from an unjustified payout.

In the second case, a lawsuit brought by Timothy Gantt and Michael Smith, both convicted for the 1992 murder of 23-year-old Kalpesh Vardhan, claimed that Gantt and Smith were maliciously prosecuted and that detectives had conspired to frame them for the murder. Deputy City Attorneys Geoff Plowden and Surekha Pessis, through their skillful defense, made quick work of the claims and led the way for the jury’s unanimous November 2010 verdict in favor of the City and the LAPD detectives.

Los Angeles is indeed very fortunate to have such an effective and diligent legal team working to protect its officers and the City’s resources.



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