Been away. Typical excuse. Went on vacation and came back to a slaughter at work. Since then, just haven’t been very “bloggy.”
So what has me so busy? Well, the local police superintendent decided that he no longer wants the city’s attorneys to handle boilerplate Section 1983 civil rights lawsuits and announced this much to the presiding judge of our local federal district court – telling the judge that all such cases (there’s hundreds filed each year) are going to be tried.
After years and years of these cases being settled, somewhat independent of there being any actual fault or improper actions on behalf of the defendant officers, a new tack is being tried: Fight them all the way to verdict – with the hope that plaintiff lawyers will stop filing so many suits, knowing that they will have to actually prove their cases.
The good? Well, that means a lot of work for our firm as retained outside counsel.
The bad? Well, from the early court appearances it sounds like the judges are none too happy about the prospect of having their dockets clogged by these cases.
See, here there has been a lot of bad press about officers gone bad. This casts all defendant officers in the position of “you must have done something bad, just settle the case.” The plaintiff lawyers believe it, the judges seem to believe it (at least some of them sure seem to) and, unfortunately, the general population that makes up our jury pool sure seems ready to believe it.
Anyway, the judges seem to want to “push back.” They’re not happy about the clogging of their docket that is occurring and do not like essentially being told that the city is going to make the life of plaintiff counsel and the courts difficult. Plaintiffs may recover, but they’re going to have to work for it.
So what does this mean to me? Well, there I am in front of these peeved judges in the role of “target” for the judges’ ire. I’m paid to be there and I’m happy to be there – I hate the “they sued, so let’s just pay them to make the problem go away” mentality. That said, it’s going to make for a very busy life for the foreseeable future.
Anyway, that’s my excuse for being silent lately. Hopefully, I’ll be able to chime in more as this goes on. Should make for some interesting things in the next year or so…