Saturday, December 06, 2008

The End

☛ TS Moore civil suit dismissed as plaintiffs agree to defense motion
A federal judge signed an order this week to dismiss the civil rights violation lawsuit brought against the city of Eureka by the son of Cheri Lyn Moore and, apparently, the plaintiffs agreed to the defense-requested dismissal.

”We appreciate the plaintiff's voluntary dismissal of the case,” said Eureka City Attorney Sheryl Schaffner. “It's just a relief for the city, Chief (David) Douglas and all the officers and staff involved to have this very sad and community-wrenching event finally put behind us.”

Defense attorney Nancy Delaney said the suit, which sought unspecified damages for the alleged civil rights violations against Moore, faced an uphill battle after the involuntary manslaughter indictments handed up against Douglas and Lt. Tony Zanotti by a criminal grand jury were thrown out by Humboldt County Superior Court Judge John Feeney in August.

”The ruling of Judge Feeney made it clear that there were indeed exigent circumstances,” Delaney said. “We ultimately expected (the suit) to be dismissed on motions without a trial -- this just short circuited that. It was already headed that way somewhat, but (Feeney's ruling) certainly sealed it.”

The plaintiff's attorneys, Dennis Cunningham and Gordon Kaupp, did not return numerous Times-Standard phone calls seeking comment for this story....

...Federal Court Judge Phyllis Hamilton's dismissal of the civil suit seems to signal the end of drawn-out legal saga after Moore's shooting shook the local community.

But District Attorney Paul Gallegos has yet to unequivocally say he won't file a criminal complaint against Douglas and Zanotti for their decision-making roles in Moore's death.

”The indictment that was issued by the grand jury has resulted in significant change,” Gallegos said in an e-mail to the Times-Standard. “I believe that the changes that have taken place since Ms. Moore's tragic death are such that I do not expect a recurrence of the events that took place in that incident. In light of those changes and the remoteness of any additional positive result for the community by moving forward, I have not seen a compelling reason to move forward with a complaint at this time.

”My hope is that the changes that have been made, and the resulting remoteness of a recurrence of events such as took place with Ms. Moore, provide some solace to the aggrieved, some comfort to the distressed and some positive resolution for the community,” Gallegos continued.

Local attorney Bill Bragg, who represented Douglas during the criminal case, said he doesn't anticipate Gallegos filing a complaint against his client.

”In my experience, prosecuting authorities rarely commit themselves,” Bragg said. “My feeling is there is certainly no present intent to move forward, but the district attorney did leave the door open.”

For his part, Garr Nielsen, current chief of the Eureka Police Department that was also named in the suit, said Hamilton's decision is welcome news for the department, and brings a close to another painful chapter.

”As with the criminal piece, every part of this that gets put to rest brings us closer to putting closure to what was a tragic incident both for the police department and the community,” Nielsen said. “I think this is very good news, and welcome news to us and to this organization.”

Delaney said she hopes the civil suit's demise sends a clear message to the local community.

”I don't think the public sometimes appreciates the emotional toll that these occurrences have on the officers, but the positive thing here is that each knew that he or she had done what they were supposed to do, what they were required to do (in the situation),” Delaney said. “My hope would be that now the public understands that the officers acted appropriately.”


  1. This sad episode underscores how insidious it was for Gallegos to file criminal charges against EPD officers in this incident ... doing so encouraged and abetted the civil lawsuit, both of which had no merit.

    The thin blue line protects us from danger and evil, and their jobs are too often thankless.

  2. Very true Chris. I am so surprised there are so few comments on this?

  3. Take heart. People tend to comment when they DISAGREE, or think it is wrong.

    They feel funny saying, "I agree wholeheartedly!"

  4. True, but there was so much to do in the past over this incident.

    One could almost say it is the single issue that got PVG re-elected. You know the stuff about policing the police and all.

    I am surprised there is no outrage! I'm not outraged by the courts sending PVG packing. I have always thought that PVG's use (misuse) of the Grand Jury was criminal in nature (Nyfongish). That he did it to appease his hardcore supporters and to punish the EPD and law enforcement in general, to kind of show them he's the boss or that he has power. Face it our DA (in theory the top law enforcment officer of the county) is not a fan of law enforcement and one could say he is a "cop hater" at heart.

    All that crap, the coroners inquest, the drawn out grand jury investigation, the indictments, the arrests, the news coverage, and then it gets kicked out of the courts in a major way.

    It seems to have been a misuse of power (by the DA). I wonder if the police lawyers will pursue the issue of the DA failing to provide the exculpatory information to the grand jurors? I wonder if the grand jurors feel or realize they were used?

    I wonder if PVG will apologize? Of course he won't , he has no soul. Will Heraldo admit he was wrong? Of course not, he is ^%$#@!

    Just another footnote on PVG's list of major screw ups.

    I miss the Eureka Reporter.

  5. It does seem odd that people who routinely accuse EPD of murdering citizens, who apparently believe that every uniformed law enforcement officer is a jack-booted sadistic thug, do not seem to care that the DA has on more then one occasion filed meritless cases for political reasons. The Palco suit was completely without a basis in law and probably fact as well. In Dougls-Zanotti, PVG had a year to find an expert in police procedure who would testify that the officers acted inappropriately, and couldn't. He went ahead anyway, and the case is dumped by the first judge to look at it. He charged Gunderson with a nine-year old rape (Jane Doe 2), but lost interest in it once it was severed from the Jane Doe 1 case. Ultimately he had poor Keat dump it. There is no explanation for the course of that case but that it was filed solely to pile on Gunderson. That's only three cases, I know there are more. Could it be that some persons feel its ok for a law enforcement officer to abuse the powers of his office to go after people, if the people are ones you do not like?


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