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Baca can be sued over jail violence, appeals court rules


Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca isn't immune from a lawsuit brought by a former county jail inmate who says he was stabbed 23 times in a racial attack abetted by jailhouse deputies, a federal appeals court ruled Friday.

In a 2-1 decision, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said former prisoner Dion Starr had sufficiently argued in his complaint that Baca showed "deliberate indifference" to dangerous conditions in the jail.

Starr said in his complaint over a 2006 attack by Latino gang members that a deputy unlocked the door to his cell after the inmates converged on him and his cellmate, a fellow African American.

Another deputy used racial epithets against Starr after the attack as he lay on his cell floor bleeding and in pain, he said in the suit, which was dismissed three years ago by a district court judge.

In the complaint, Starr detailed numerous incidents of inmate-on-inmate violence, including five killings during a six-month period about a year before the attack he suffered at the Men's Central Jail.

Unless appealed to a larger panel of the court, the 9th Circuit ruling sends Starr's case back to the district court for trial.

Starr's attorney, Sonia Maria Mercado, said the ruling was an important victory in an effort to hold Baca accountable for persistent rights violations in the county jail that have been brought to his attention after previous deaths and injuries.

Sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore said Baca would review the ruling and probably ask for a full 11-judge panel to reconsider the case.

Whitmore described Starr's allegations of deputies' complicity in the attack as "heinous" and inaccurate.

-- Carol J. Williams

Photo: Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca

Credit: Los Angeles Times

Comments () | Archives (12)

Don't you it everyone is wrong but them. They know it all.

YES! Make Baca paid for every wrong he has done. Why hasn't the FBI invested this guy yet?

9th Circuit Court is a joke! Everything they do is reversed by the Supreme Court.

Can't take any ruling they make seriously, just a bunch of liberal douche bags from San Francisco.

I can't stand Baca, but all he has to do is appeal this ridicously ruling and it will be overturned.

I guess Baca's jails aren't good enough for Cardinal Roger Mahony, his co-horts and their molestering clerics.
Mahony's too bad and powerful for jail?; or is it possible that he is that good at aiding, abetting and covering-up clergy sex crimes? How can that be?
Is that why Mahony is kept in his cathedral instead where he can continue to abuse his authority with what appears to be a "stay out of jail free card?"
Is that how unbiased criminal investigations and justice works?
Is that right/correct?
I question what Baca thinks about that.
I can only hope this article isn't an illustration of two powerful peas in a pod.
I just think victims/survivors have good reason to feel skeptical and disillusioned.

Our jails and prisons are an absolute disgrace, and the higher-ups *need* to be held accountable if things are going to change. Incarceration is NOT meant to involve gangs, beatings, and rape, and anyone who tolerates this is a seriously disturbed individual.

So a sheriff, who is responsible for running a jail, is actually going to be held responsible for what goes on in that jail, just like an elementary school principal. What is this country coming to? How can you stop crime without subjecting inmates to routine violence and rape?

OK Baca, What now? You are much smarter than the rest of us...Right ? Hope that the liberal 9th. gets over turned.

Its about time. Maybe Moonbeam Baca will start doing his job.

Jailhouse politics. Good to see this man do something about this inhumanity. I don't think rehabilitation has murder or attempted murder in it's definition.
Bacca should go to jail for organized crime.

Whenever the Sheriff Department is being sued spokesman Steve Whitmore is ready with stock replies such as "whenever a lawsuit is filed the whole story is not being told" and "the sheriff looks forward to the opportunity to tell his side of the story in court".

So why does the sheriff continue to allow his opportunities to be blocked by pre-trial settlements and drawn out pre-trial appeals in various cases?

Come on Baca and Whitmore - you guys are confident, right?
You know that the plaintiff's are wrong and that you guys are right, right?

Show us your best stuff, already. Put on the gloves and step into the ring.

Get it on.

Go to trial and make all the gold diggers shut up for good.

You will be able to bring in expert witness testimony from nationally recognized authorities on acceptable and correct law enforcement management and personnel practices.

Then you will finally have your long sought opportunity.

Prove to the world that your management policies and specific actions in supervising your personnel should not fall under the legal definition of - "Gross Negligence" directly contributing to serious injury and death in several specific incidents.

Everyone can sit back and give thier opinion.

As a former employee of the L.A County Sheriffs Department. The inmate is correct. A lot of depuities instigate and start fights of thier own in the jails. They tend to side with either south siders or the blacks,very few deputies are straight headed. 1 or 2 years working the jails, you will change. you're in the jails with the inmates as well, just not behind bars. its easy to kill time and get away with stuff.

The department needs to wipe out the higher staff and bring in new people. I hated working for the department, and as soon as an employee is under investigation they turn their back on you and want nothing to do with you.


Inmate deserves every penny

If there ever was a guy who deserved to be sued is Lee Baca. Maybe Paris Hilton can be on the jury?

Why is there money to convene an eleven judge panel to hear Baca's appeal but not enought money to open the crime lab and investigate Rape cases?


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