From: PORAC LDF
By: William J. Hadden, ESQ., 9/1/2015
On June 23, a mistrial was declared in federal district court in Los Angeles when a jury of 10 women and two men announced that it was hopelessly deadlocked in the trial of two Santa Barbara County custody deputies. The tally was 9-3 in favor of acquitting both Christopher Johnson and Robert Kirsch, who were charged with the use of excessive force in 2013 in the restraint of a pretrial detainee who was subsequently convicted of rape and murder. Johnson was additionally charged with filing a false and/or misleading report, regarding which the jury was also hung 9-3 in Johnson’s favor.
The incident giving rise to the charged conduct occurred in the Santa Barbara County Jail where, during the movement of the handcuffed inmate, a brief altercation ensued. The inmate was taken to the floor and quickly subdued without any significant sign of injury.
The incident was captured on video, albeit of poor quality and shot from a distance that tended to warp the perspective of the viewer. The government claimed that the video, which did not show all of the inmate’s movements, told a tale of abuse. Conversely, the defense maintained that the government completely ignored evidence on the video that showed that the deputies had acted reasonably, and that the government had abysmally failed to meet its burden of proof on any of the charges. Three-quarters of the jury found the defense’s arguments persuasive, but the government still intends to retry the case in the fall.
Deputy Johnson was represented by Mike Stone, Muna Busailah and Robert Rabe of Stone Busailah, while Bill Hadden and Ken Yuwiler of Silver, Hadden, Silver & Levine represented Deputy Kirsch. The defense was provided the unflagging support of LDF, which included the invaluable assistance of video experts Parris Ward and David Notowitz, jury expert Jan Spaeth, use-of-force and tactics expert Don Cameron, and investigator Hank Lobo.
To be continued …