Thursday, May 9, 2019

Update on Rafael's and Tuttle's case - Hope Springs Eternal

Superbloom in CA (c) Dana Stein
The heavy Californian winter rains ignited a super bloom of flowers all across our state. Philip Fischer - Warren Buffet's mentor once wrote that there are a burst of flowers, when heavy rain follows a drought. (He uses that analogy to describe buying stocks in drought, easier said than done, though.) The super blooms in California only confirms this phenomenon. Even when you look at our backyard, all the trees are thriving with flourishing green and strong leaves.

We had a wet and dreary winter indeed. And, it was spectacular, the way that California flooded. There was so much rain, the huge sink holes formed in the streets.

But as with most dark winters, it does feel like a part of you is dying. The trees lose all their leaves. The hens molt, lose their summer feathers, only to regrow winter feathers. They stop laying eggs.

It's almost like Death's touch ceases and decays everything around you.

But with the spring, we're reminded that hope exists and persists, especially this year.

I've been really busy with two cases. I'd like to share. And end with what I've been learning this spring.

Rafael Valdez's Case

Rafael and Joy Valdez with two children.
I started working on this case on March 25th, 2019. Seven weeks later, I've put in 182.5 hours into it. The labor has been well worth it, and I've mined hidden gems.

The summary of the case is that my client was pulled over in a traffic stop. As a result, he was eventually put into ICE deportation proceedings. He is married to an American woman and has two American children. Because of legal complications, he could not obtain residency.

In September of 2013, he was deported to Mexico. In the meantime, the ICE prosecutor who deported him - was charged with forgery. He's been disbarred and has already served his sentence in prison. In June of 2018, Chief Counsel (the director of ICE prosecution) was convicted of the identities of those he deported for cash - in a complicated scheme that involved getting loans on these stolen identities.

The question remained: Did he steal my client's identity?

My factual investigation has found that it's 99% likely that he has stolen my client's identity.

The next steps therefore is to reopen up this case, and I'm hopeful to get him back.

Tuttle's Case

LA Times here. But the problem in this case, was that I didn't get paid my attorney's fees, which are mandatory.
The three city officials, who sued Tuttle,
Ricardo Pacheco, Monica Garcia, Manuel Lozano
(From left to right)
In this case, if you don't remember, the Mayor Lozano and Council Members Ricardo Pacheco and Monica Garcia sued Greg Tuttle for a restraining order, because he was reporting on how they were misusing city money to go to conferences of corporate lobbyist. They lost the case. You can read about it in the

I appealed. But the California Court of Appeals - in a flawed and disappointing opinion - ok'd me not getting paid, even though I won. Not only that, they allowed the city council to collect costs on Tuttle.

So, Lozano's attorneys - Daniel Barer and Jimmy Gutierrez - filed a memorandum of costs for $1,700 against Tuttle without any proof of why it's so high.

Let me ask you - does this make sense? You win a case against vindictive government officials - who are trying to shut you up - and you end up having to pay them. This is our modern court system.

Retaliation appears to be the trend by Mayor Lozano. For winning the open records case against the City, the City Attorney, Robert Tafoya filed close to 10 failed sanctions motions against Julian Casas - my client. Then, in the second record's case, Tafoya sought costs, which is barred by law. For affirmed appeals, the City attempted to seek $714.32 in costs.

The court gave them $6.56.

But this also appears to be a national and international trend. Government officials use the courts to retaliate against individuals who seek to keep them accountable. Here's a good article on the subject - Governments turn tables by suing public records requesters. Also, a judge jailed an activist for asking for financial records. Even in South Africa, a government official is threatening to sue a renowned journalist for exposing corruption.

There needs to be a change in law, to only allow governments to collect costs in frivolous lawsuits when sued.

In any event, I filed a motion to dismiss these costs yesterday. It took work. But hey - Jesus once said: "Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

I've never really understood this verse, because I don't know what the kingdom of heaven actually is. But I do believe the enemy certainly blesses you; she teaches you what you don't know about yourself. So, we press on.

Insight for This Spring

Rembrandt's Return of the Prodigal Son
I caught up with someone, recently. I took him out to eat. He's returned, after struggling with his own demons. That struggle might not be over.

But he wants to get back on the right track - the road of the straight and narrow. I just listened. Important to listen.

I think I'm learning that life is full of surprises. Hope and promise can just appear out of nowhere some times.

That's it for now. 

No comments:

Post a Comment