Monday, December 17, 2012

The Federal Lawsuit

In case you missed it, former-HPD chemists Amanda Culbertson and Jorge Wong filed a Federal lawsuit this morning, targeting both Harris County District Attorney Pat Lykos and Assistant District Attorney Rachel Palmer.

I've briefly scanned over the petition and it is basically the allegation that Wong and Culbertson were punished and retaliated against for their roles as whistleblowers with the HPD B.A.T. Van scandals.  The petition lists numerous dates and meetings that specifically involve Rachel Palmer and it covers the cancellation of the County's contract with Lone Star College.

I don't know much about Federal Civil Law, but I would imagine that things will move fairly slowly.  It will be interesting to watch it develop.

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

There is some irony here that the DA is going to have to retain a defense attorney.

Anonymous said...

Actually, federal cases can move faster than state cases, sometimes. Limited discovery, strict pleadings requirements, brutal dispositive motion practice. For voir dire, you might get to look at the jury.

Anonymous said...

Interesting...today the least.

Anonymous said...

God is good!

Merry Christmas Pat!

Anonymous said...

Karma is a real bitch!!! Merry Christmas, gals.

Anonymous said...

Well Commissioners Court, since you've allowed Lykos to spend almost $20 million dollars from the forfeiture fund plus untold thousands on needless incompetent employees I'm sure you won't mind writing a nice fat check to Culberson and Wong! Lykos has done so much costly damage in four years, they need to name a hurricane after her

Anonymous said...

No doubt one of the Federal Judges didn't say good morning to RP and will be asked to recuse himself / herself. God is Good

Anonymous said...

You know what doesn't apply to a party in a federal civil lawsuit?

The 5th Amendment.

She can take it, but the court will instruct the jury to assume that the answers are bad for her. So she's pretty much guaranteed to lose the civil case.

Rage

Anonymous said...

How about posting the lawsuit petition.

Anonymous said...

Will they have to retain representation or will they somehow be entitled to general counsel via the DA's office after Jan. 1? I guess if Rachel is allowed to stay, she will be, huh.

Anonymous said...

Come on folks, this is basic: if you are sued for actions that occurred while you were a government employee and especially if the government is also a party to the suit, you are represented by the government whether you are still employed or not.

Anonymous said...

Re Rage 3:16-
Yep, Rage, RP will not be able to hide behind the 5th now and when she is deposed,she will have to answer the questions. More importantly, she will have to answer for what she told her subordinates leading up to any retributive actions against Culberson and Wong. There is no statute of limitations on employee misconduct. The forthcoming depositions will prove to be very interesting.

Anonymous said...

I have been searching to see who will be working with our new DA. Thanking God that we will soon be able to see light. Mike is a good man I don't know him like real personally but have seen him in court and have spoken briefly with him. Pat on the other hand is very closed in and rude! can't even get a good morning more less help out of her. Her job was only a supervisor not an advisor. Kick her way out of TEXAS for good.

Leif said...

Murray, you mentioned that you don't know how quickly this will move. If the County didn't waive service of citation, then it has 21 days to answer or move to dismiss, starting from the date it gets served. If it waives service, that's extended to 60 days. I suspect that the County will move to dismiss based, among other things, on qualified immunity. The plaintiffs will have 21 days to respond. The court can then take its sweet time ruling on the motion. If the court denies the motion to dismiss, then it'll typically set the case for trial somewhere between 9 months and a year from the answer date. Depending on the judge, the deadline to move for summary judgment is usually six to eight weeks before that.

Anonymous said...

I figured this would be coming sometime especially now that Amanda is burning bridges with the defense attorney's that she was working with. It was just a matter of time before that gravy train fell off the tracks..

Brad Walters said...

I wish the plaintiffs good luck. It is a real shame when DA's are so bent on convicting that they eat their own for telling the truth. Good to see these folks biting back. Hope they can beat the maze of immunity claims and election of remedy traps that so often allow scum to hide under the skirts of the state to protect them from paying for misdeeds against people who jumped off the rolling conviction machine and told the truth. Just another example of exculpatory information that the DA did not appreciate coming to light at trial. Give the defense what they are entitled to know and lose your job.

Anonymous said...

They need to be suing Harris County Commissioners for pulling the trigger when that vindictive lunatic DA whispered in their ears. They are the ones that did them the injustice. This is just the tip of the iceberg over at 2002 Preston.

Anonymous said...

The beauty of this horrible thing that happened to Culberson and Wong is that Lykos was defeated. Insiders know how bad she was. But the fact that the media (Ted Oberg is my hero!) jumped on this story and ran so many pieces (unlike the Chronicle, which alternated between praising Pat and questioning her), is the reason she was ultimately defeated by such a large margin! So I'm sorry for Wong and Culberson and I hope they get a ton of money from this, but I also see the silver lining to all of this. Another silver lining is that if the County has to pay out the wazoo in this suit, maybe Lykos will be banned from anymore civil service opportunities in Houston! Maybe other politicians will finally realize just how costly her "service" is!

Anonymous said...

Here is the complaint:

http://www.scribd.com/doc/117648523/Gov-uscourts-txsd-1038299-1-0

Anonymous said...

This fiasco is why forensics should be completely independent of law enforcement, prosecution or defense influence on the evidence and testimony that will be given in a case. I had a blood test dwi defense where Wong was the technician. The prosecution wanted to submit the test result without the testimony of Mr. Wong who would likely testify to shortcomings in the HPD lab in addition to his work done there. He was placed on a do not call list by the DA. The blood test results were good enough for the prosecutor if the tech did not have to testify, but they wanted to retest and bring in a different tech if the tech was required by the defense. If we had not settled before trial I would have called Wong anyway. Had it been a typical first DWI, rather than a fairly strong felony case with a 20 to life enhancement it probably would not have settled on a plea. The point is that state experts are biased for the state to the point of arguing propositions that are so contrary to good science that it is absurd. The state should not be able to rid the forensic community of people who will tell the truth about deficiencies in the evidence relied upon by the state. It is either objective scientific evidence or it is not. Using sellouts who remain willfully ignorant of shortcomings of the forensics in order to give a biased picture to the jury has caused too many wrongful convictions that we know of and untold numbers that we will never know of because the convicted party could not afford to appeal or the conviction was a misdemeanor and the defendant could not justify the expense of an appeal much less his own expert in trial to avoid a $500 fine and a year of probation. What actually innocent person of modest means is going to pony up another 5 or 10K to appeal a misdemeanor conviction due to biased expert forensic testimony that leaves out material exculpatory evidence? So the DA gets away (so far) with driving two scientists out of forensic work because they won't keep Brady material to themselves.

Anonymous said...

Thanks to Attorney Jordan Lewis who brought the whole mess to light in the first place.