Tuesday, February 12, 2002
County Spent $9.4 Million in Past Year in Rampart Police Cases, Report Shows
By NICK YULICO, Staff Writer
Los Angeles County spent $9.4 million last fiscal year to prosecute police officers and re-examine civilian convictions related to Rampart, and over $6.7 million is in this year’s budget to continue the investigation, according to a report prepared for the Board of Supervisors.
From July 2000 to June 2001, the District Attorney’s Office spent $3.5 million, the Public Defender’s Office just under $3.5 million, and the Alternate Public Defender’s Office $2.4 million, all on cases relating to Rampart, Chief Administrative Officer David Janssen reported.
This year’s budget includes $2.68 million for the Alternate Public Defender’s Office and $4.04 million for the Public Defender’s Office.
The District Attorney’s Office has no Rampart-related portion of the current budget, but it could draw from a county approved “holding tank” for Rampart-related expenditures.
Currently, all criminal cases against officers accused by former rogue officer Rafael Perez are closed, with the exception of the Ethan Cohan case, which is in the preliminary stages.
Over 70 Los Angeles police officers were investigated in Rampart and nine officers had charges filed against them.
Three officers were convicted but a judge threw out those rulings and their cases are currently being appealed. Four more officers, including Perez, took pleas. One officer was acquitted.
At the height of the investigation, in December 2000, the District Attorney’s Office had 22 lawyers assigned to Rampart along with approximately 15 support staff; those numbers have now dwindled to nine lawyers and seven support staff, deputy district attorney William Hodgman said.
While the district attorney’s work is winding down somewhat, the Public Defender’s Office has seen its Rampart work continue if not become busier in recent months.
Robert Kalunian, chief deputy for the Public Defender’s Office, said the past expenditures and current projected figures have been spent on the Public Integrity Assurance Section, which is looking into closed criminal cases involving officers who have been identified as having committed some form of misconduct.
“We have tens of thousands of cases to look at, and we’re getting more every day,” Kalunian said.
That special unit includes 22 lawyers and 8 support staff. So far, 120 civilian convictions have been overturned due to Rampart, with about 20 writs of habeas corpus pending, Kalunian said.
Copyright 2002, Metropolitan News Company