Court Issues Unprecedented Order in Civil Rights Case Handled by Piccuta Law Group
On June 30, 2016, the Court issued an unprecedented Order in a highly publicized civil rights case handled by the Piccuta Law Group. The case is Macias v. City of Clovis, Et Al. and is pending in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California. The Piccuta Law Group represents the Plaintiff in the case, George Michael Macias, Jr., and filed suit against the City of Clovis and four of its police officers after they violated Macias’ civil rights and beat him until he was unconscious while handcuffed.
The Order issued by the Court on June 30, 2016 is the first of its kind and holds that previously confidential Internal Affairs Investigations will now be made public as part of judicial filings. The subject of the Internal Affairs Investigations was former and disgraced officer Cleaver who was also the primary officer involved in the unlawful beating of Macias. Cleaver was also the arresting officer in the incident with Macias and authored the police report which the Piccuta Law Group has alleged is fabricated.
The Internal Affairs Investigations disclose that Cleaver had a history of falsifying official police records, fabricating police reports, lying to superior officers, mishandling evidence, making misrepresentations and engaging in other deceitful conduct in the course of his official duties as a police officer for the City of Clovis. In the second Internal Affairs Investigation, 35 of the 37 charges against Cleaver were sustained. As a result of that investigation, the City of Clovis Police Department instituted the most extensive form of discipline possible and recommended Cleaver for termination. Cleaver resigned effective immediately, just prior to his official termination date.
In reaching its decision, the Court relied upon the recent Ninth Circuit ruling of Center for Auto Safety v. Chrysler to determine that the Investigations, which had been attached to previous judicial filings in the case, should be made public. Specifically, the Court found that compelling reasons did not exist to keep the Investigations concealed and that the public’s interest in the presumptively public documents overrode the City’s interest in hiding them. In so doing, the Court rejected every argument advanced by the City’s attorneys, including that the Plaintiff sought to make the documents public out of private spite, to promote scandal or for other improper purposes.
“While Defendants allege that Plaintiff may use these records to satisfy a private spite, it is hardly private spite, promotion of public scandal, or libelous, to contend that Defendant engaged in misconduct during the scope of his official duties, and to submit to the Court documented instances of alleged misconduct in support of that argument. The Public’s interest in the conduct of its officers cannot be undermined by calling it a desire for public spectacle, or a form of “private spite.” Based on the strong presumption of public access to judicial records and the public’s strong interest in the conduct of officers, the Court must refuse requests to engage in damage control on behalf of the Defendants. Here, where the case involves allegations of police misconduct, the public has a vested interest “in assessing the truthfulness of allegations of official misconduct, and whether agencies that are responsible for investigating and adjudicating complaints of misconduct have acted properly and wisely.”
June 24, 2016 Order, Macias v. City of Clovis, USDC ED CA 13-01819, Page 7, line 24 to Page 8, line 7.
Charles Tony Piccuta of the Piccuta Law Group drafted and filed all related motions and briefing and argued the matter on June 24, 2016. When asked about the decision, Piccuta stated: “The Judge got it spot on. She is 100 % correct on the law. This decision is important to the public at large because it promotes transparency by police departments and law enforcement agencies. No longer can these agencies claim that these types of documents are always confidential and protected without exception. The public has a right to know what the agencies they pay to protect them are doing and they have the right to know when these agencies fail miserably in their duties.”
If you, a friend or a loved one, were the victim of police misconduct or had your civil rights violated, contact the Piccuta Law Group today. One of our attorneys is available to discuss your case and provide a free consultation.