Saturday, August 11, 2012

Expert: Miles attorneys can't challenge instructions to jury - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


By Brian Bowling

Published: Saturday, August 11, 2012, 9:10 p.m.
Updated 58 minutes ago

Lawyers for a man who accused three Pittsburgh police officers of violating his civil rights can't challenge a federal judge's instructions to the jury in his case now that it has rendered a verdict, an expert said on Friday.

Attorneys for Jordan Miles, 20, of Homewood have said that U.S. District Judge Gary Lancaster's instructions justify a new trial.

The last chance for either side in a federal civil lawsuit to challenge instructions comes when the judge reads them to the jury, said Scott Dodson, a professor at the University of California's Hastings College of the Law.

"If they do not, they have waived those objections," he said.

Neither side objected on Aug. 2 when Lancaster read his instructions to the eight jurors.

Miles lawyer Tim O'Brien said Lancaster gave jurors contradictory instructions: that they disregard the officers' possible motives in the case, yet decide whether they acted out of "malice and spite" in filing criminal charges.

"It was virtually impossible for us to succeed on that claim," he said.

Miles claims that officers Michael Saldutte, David Sisak and Richard Ewing violated his civil rights during a Jan. 12, 2010, arrest on Tioga Street in Homewood. The officers say they arrested him after he fled instead of answering a question about his suspicious behavior in a high-crime neighborhood.

After four days of deliberations, the jurors deadlocked Wednesday on Miles' claims of false arrest and excessive force, but unanimously rejected his claim that the officers prosecuted him out of malice.

His lawyers said they plan to file a motion for a new trial on the malicious prosecution claim and pursue a second trial on the claims that deadlocked the jury.

James Wymard, the attorney for Sisak, and Bryan Campbell, the attorney for Saldutte, echoed Dodson: Miles' lawyers didn't raise that objection before the verdict, so they can't raise it now.

Whether the jury even considered "malice and spite" is an open question. Five jurors either declined comment or didn't return phone calls. Three couldn't be reached for comment.

A key part of Miles' case is his claim that he ran because the three men in dark clothing didn't identify themselves as police.

O'Brien said the judge allowed testimony from an expert witness who said the officers always would have identified themselves when questioning people, yet Miles wasn't allowed to call six to eight witnesses who would have said they did not.

"I think that was a critical turning point in this case," he said.

The Office of Municipal Investigations, Pittsburgh's equivalent of an internal affairs division, looked into each of those witnesses' complaints and said "there was nothing ever substantiated against any of these officers," said Robert Leight, Ewing's attorney.

Any good police officer making hundreds of arrests in a year is going to attract some complaints, Leight said.

Lawyers for the three officers maintain that the length of jury deliberations and the verdict in favor of the officers on the malicious prosecution charge show that the jurors mostly accepted the police version of events.

Brian Bowling is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-325-4301 or bbowling@tribweb.com.

You must be signed in to add comments

To comment, click the Sign in or sign up at the very top of this page.

There are currently no comments for this story.

Top News stories

Nemacolin employee charged in attempted rape of another employee
By Bill Vidonic
An employee at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort in Fayette County has been charged with trying to sexually assault another employee Friday afternoon, state police said. Police charged Kevin St. Aubin Bowen, 36, with attempted rape, criminal …
Romney picks Ryan as running mate 9:56 p.m.
By Salena Zito
MANASSAS, Va. – U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan spent his first day as the Republican vice-presidential candidate in this key political state, pledging …
NBC to stream Olympic closing ceremony live
By The Associated Press
NEW YORK — NBC has changed its plans and will stream Sunday's Olympic closing ceremony live online. The network will still televise the ceremony in prime time on a tape-delay basis. But the network was …
Iran state TV: At least 87 dead, hundreds hurt in earthquake
By The Associated Press
TEHRAN, Iran — Iranian state television says at least 87 people have been killed in a 6.2-magnitude earthquake in northwestern Iran. At least 400 others were injured in Saturday's quake, the channel said, which damaged …
Padres rally from 6 runs to down Pirates
By Karen Price
The second-half plunge continued on Friday for Pirates right-hander James McDonald, who started the fifth with his team leading by six runs …
Probe: Did Sandusky share child pornography?
By Michael Hasch
If investigators had evidence of child pornography on a computer seized from Jerry Sandusky, state prosecutors probably would have used it during trial, a lawyer for the former Penn State assistant football coach said on …
Suspect's mother testifies in Clairton shooting trial
By Michael Divittorio
Jaime Andrejco testified Friday that her son Marcus Andrejco could not have been involved in a home invasion and shooting of a Clairton officer in April 2011 because he was at home with family and …

Top stories

School closings offer challenges, opportunities for new uses 9:55 p.m.
By Rick Wills
St. Athanasius school closed in June 2010 because of declining enrollment, but the building in West View didn’t shut its doors. Just …
Hopewell's Harmotto, U.S. volleyball settle for silver in loss to Brazil
By Dejan Kovacevic
LONDON — Hopewell's Christa Harmotto and the U.S. women's volleyball team settled for a disappointing silver medal by falling to Brazil — …
Waynesburg wrestler claims Olympic bronze
By Dejan Kovacevic
LONDON - Waynesburg's Coleman Scott won the Olympic bronze medal in 60-kilogram freestyle wrestling Saturday, but Wexford's Jake Herbert failed to medal …
Army opts to revamp recruiting
By Adam Wagner
Cushy furniture, warm colors and a signed Jack Lambert Steelers jersey are replacing a couple of desks and an American flag as …
Highmark asks 9.5% rate hike on plans for the chronically ill
By Alex Nixon
For the second summer in a row, Highmark Inc. proposes increasing rates by nearly 10 percent on health insurance plans it sells …
Subscribe today & get the all digital eTRIB! Click here for our subscription offers.

No comments:

Post a Comment