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One year ago: Hugh R. Manes

June 13, 2010 |  6:24 am

Manes-afterword Hugh R. Manes, who looked like Winston Churchill and could fill a courtroom with his baritone voice, was a trailblazer in the fight against police abuse. He tried more than 400 cases in his 40-year career as a civil rights lawyer in Southern California. One year ago today, he died after a long battle with emphysema. He was 84.

Manes (pronounced MAY-ness) began representing victims of police misconduct in the 1960s, nearly three decades before the videotaped beating of motorist Rodney G. King by Los Angeles police officers threw a harsh spotlight on the issue of police brutality.

His most prolific case was in defense of a group of Samoan Americans beaten by Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies at a bridal shower in Cerritos in 1989. The $23-million award he won for 35 plaintiffs was believed to be the largest then imposed on a U.S. police agency.

"He was a voice in the wind," said Mark Rosenbaum, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, who called Manes the dean of police-abuse lawyers. "Doing police-abuse cases is not fashionable now and was even less fashionable then. Hugh did as much as any citizen to keep the Los Angeles Police Department in check."

Read the Hugh R. Manes obituary published in The Times on June 18, 2009.

-- Michael Farr

Photo: Hugh R. Manes

Credit: Nikol Manes