Redemption of the Prosecutor is one of the films screened at this weekend's Justice On Trial Film Festival, a film festival about inequities in the criminal justice system.
In Los Angeles, a federal jury found LASD top-cop Sheriff Lee Baca personally liable for the abuse suffered by Tyler Willis, an inmate at Los Angeles County Jail. The jail abuse suffered by inmates at Men's Central Jail is well-documented and has been the subject of unending lawsuits, media exposes and public criticism.
But in all those lawsuits, Sheriff Baca himself has never been found personally liable for the abuse, due to the difficulty of establishing supervisory liability under Section 1983 in cases of jail abuse police brutality. This recent verdict is an affirmation that Sheriff Baca has been put on ample notice of the beatings and abuse going on in Men's Central Jail and is responsible for stopping it.
Up in Sacramento, a federal judge recognized the merits of civil rights lawsuits on behalf of injured inmates. In that case, which involved abuse suffered by plaintiffs at the hands of deputies in the Sacramento County Jail, the jury gave the plaintiffs nominal damages of one dollar.
However, because the verdict vindicated the plaintiffs' case, even if on a largely symbolic level, the judge awarded their attorneys fees of nearly $200,000 for taking on the case under the federal civil rights statute Section 1983. This opinion will give civil rights attorneys more confidence to represent victims in these difficult cases, given that their efforts are valued in the eyes of the law.