The Sanders suit
Re: July 21 article “Council, lawyers had discussed suit deal.”
I believe the proposed lawsuit settlement of $750,000 with Nathaniel Sanders’ family sends the wrong message. A settlement of that magnitude is an implicit admission that there was fault. The city would be disregarding the conclusions reached by the grand jury, the internal affairs division and the Austin citizens review panel, and, instead, relying upon the findings of the independent review panel.
By agreeing to such a large settlement, the city would be substituting itself for the jury and unilaterally convicting the Police Department instead of defending it through the jury system. The city should stand behind the Police Department and let a jury make its own decision after reviewing all the evidence and arguments.
Even if it loses at trial, the city will have shown confidence in its Police Department as well as the grand jury system, the internal affairs division and the citizens review panel.
I agree with Mayor Lee Leffingwell. Why make a settlement?
It is always a shame when someone dies, but enough is enough. After all of the investigations, it appears as if all have been exonerated.
As for settlements, let me tell you how the City of Austin’s legal department operates. While employed by the City of Austin in the Public Works Department, I represented the construction inspection division as liaison to the law department for suits brought by various contractors. The attorney I had to work with was called “Half-and-Half Jones” (not his/her real name) because he/she always wanted to settle for half of what the city was sued for.
As she/he said: “Well, it will cost us that much anyway” — no matter how good our cause was against the contractor. It seems as if the attitude in the law department hasn’t changed much.
Good luck, mayor. leo o. Mueller JR.