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Sirens & Gavels

Posts tagged: Jay Mehring

No witness tampering in Mehring case

The Spokane County Prosecutor’s Office has declined to charge former Spokane Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick and City Attorney Rocky Treppiedi with witness tampering in a wrongful termination case the city eventually lost and is currently on the hook for about $1.5 million in damages and attorneys fees.

The complaint, was filed in October by an attorney for Spokane Police Officer Jay Mehring, alleged that Kirkpatrick and Treppiedi failed to renew a contract of a police psychologist Deanette Palmer after she deemed Mehring fit for duty following allegations the officer threatened to kill his estranged wife.

The allegations came during a messy divorce, and a jury later sided with Mehring and awarded him $722,000 in damages and a judge approved $833,00 in fees to attorney Bob Dunn.

Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich asked the Washington State Patrol to investigate and that report was forwarded to Chief Deputy Prosecutor Jack Driscoll for review. Driscoll declined to file charges, according to a news release.

Past coverage:

Nov. 5: Jury awards Mehring $700,000

Oct. 5: Spokane police detective alleges witness tampering

Jury awards police detective $722k

A jury on Friday awarded more than $700,000 to a Spokane police detective they say was wrongly fired and retaliated against by Chief Anne Kirkpatrick.

The amount includes $250,000 in punitive damages against Kirkpatrick, who quickly left Superior Court Judge Kathleen O’Connor’s courtroom with Assistant City Attorney Ellen O’Hara after the verdict was read. Both declined comment.

Read the rest of my story here.

Attorney Bob Dunn gave a closing argument Thrusday so critical of Kirkpatrick that her attorney aplogized to her. Read more here.

Trial begins in SPD detective’s lawsuit

Trial began today in a lawsuit filed against the City of Spokane and Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick by a detective who was fired in the midst of a messy divorce.

Jay Mehring alleges he was wrongfully terminated and defamed in 2007 when Kirkpatrick heard reports that he'd threatened to burn his wife's house down.

Kirkpatrick, who is sitting at the defendant's table for the trial, announced Mehring's arrest in a press conference.

 A jury acquitted him of felony harassment and he was reinstated with the police department. He's currently on paid administrative leave.

Bob Dunn is representing Mehring in the case, which continues with testimony Thursday before Spokane County Superior Court Judge Kathleen O'Connor.

 Past coverage:

Oct. 8: City must turn over emails in Mehring suit

Oct. 7: Judge calls Mehring case 'dysfunctional'

Oct. 4: Detective alleges witness tampering in civil suit

Oct. 4, 2010: Detective in civil suit on leave

Judge calls Mehring case ‘dysfunctional’

Spokane County Superior Court Judge Kathleen O'Connor had choice words Thursday for attorneys on both sides of the Jay Mehring civil case.

The wrongful termination and defamation lawsuit filed by the Spokane police detective against the city of Spokane and police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick is set to go to a jury trial Oct. 17, and O'Connor says she's lost her patience with the problems that keep arising. 

She ordered attorneys Bob Dunn and Ellen O'Hara to appear before her this afternoon “no matter what” with an agreed upon statement in the case and a list of issues that are in dispute and issues that aren't.

She threatened to hold the lawyers in contempt if they weren't able to do so “because I am sick of this.”

The judge also warned that she would have no time to look at motions for reconsideration, “so assume that they're all going to be denied.”

At one point, Dunn stood up, but only for a moment. “Counsel, I'm not done. Sit down,” O'Connor said.

The judge also picked up a report she said had been submitted that morning in violation of a previous order.

“See this? The one I got today? In the waste basket!” she said, holding up the waste basket and tossing the report inside. “Do you understand how dysfunctional this trial is?”

“Do you understand I never have these types of problems in any other cases?” she continued. “I've just lost my patience with all of you.”

O'Connor's criticism came at the end of a hearing in which she ordered the City of Spokane to produce emails regarding its contract with a police department psychologist who's part of a witness tampering allegation by Mehring against Kirkpatrick and city attorneys.

They contend the city didn't renew Deanette Palmer's contract because she had ruled he was fit to return to duty. Ellen O'Hara, an assistant attorney for the City of Spokane, blasted the witness tampering claim in court Thursday, calling it baseless and “literally defaming.”

O'Hara said the city has always planned to renew Palmer's contract. City Attorney Rocky Treppiedi “is a very busy man,” O'Hara said. “This is a minor $10,000 to $15,000 contract. It was not on top of his list and he didn't get to it. And he even apologized to Dr. Palmer.

O'Hara continued, “What this really is is an attempt by the plaintiff to smear Chief Kirkpatrick and the city” and to use the media to taint the jury pool by building on “all the smearing” from the Otto Zehm-Karl Thompson case.

She called the allegations “an absurd sideshow - one of many that are gong to be attempted to be presented din this case.”

“Dr. Palmer is not saying that the city obstructed her. She fell between a rock and a hard place,” O'Hara said. “It's clear to Dr. Palmer and the city that the chief wants the contract renewed.”

O'Hara also said, “This is beyond unbelievable to me that this is happening,” prompting O'Connor to say, “Well, I gather that. Why don't you sit down now.”

Dunn emphasized that when asked in deposition if she felt her work with Mehring had adversely affected her contract with the city, Palmer responded, “definitely.” But Palmer also said she didn't feel Kirkpatrick did anything unfair regarding her testifying in the criminal trial and that she didn't ahve “beef” with the chief.

“I said clearly that the issue was with the City Attorney's office,” Palmer said.  (Read the entire transcript of Palmer's deposition here.)

O'Connor said the issue could be discussed during the civil trial, and emails outlining the issue could be entered as evidence. She denied Dunn's request for Palmer's emails but ordered the City to hand over the copies.

“The issue of its relevancy goes to whether or not there's any bias on the part of Dr. Palmer or any attempt to have Dr. Palmer changer her position or testify differently at trial,” O'Connor said. “If such an email exists - and I'm not suggesting that it does - that would certainly be relevant.”

Mehring, 43, has been on paid leave since Sept. 9, 2010, after Kirkpatrick said he was unfit for duty based on claims he'd made in his lawsuit.

Mehring filed the lawsuit after a jury acquitted him of charges that he'd threatened to kill his wife. Kirkpatrick had put him unpaid leave but reinstated him with back pay and a demotion.

Tampering alleged in Mehring civil case

A Spokane Police detective has filed a formal complaint asking the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office to investigate allegations that Chief Anne Kirkpatrick and city attorneys have engaged in felony witness tampering.

 Detective Jay Mehring filed the complaint with the sheriff’s office Sunday, alleging that the city refused to renew a contract with the department’s longtime psychologist after she gave an opinion favorable to Mehring as part of his $3.5 million civil suit against the city. That suit alleges he was wrongfully terminated in 2007 amid reports that he threatened to harm his wife.

City Spokeswoman Marlene Feist said Tuesday that the City denies any allegation of witness tampering.

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Past coverage:

Oct. 4, 2010: Detective in civil suit on leave

City to hire lawyer to defend police suit

The Spokane City Council on Monday agreed to hire a local attorney to help the city defend itself in a lawsuit filed by a Spokane police detective.

The city will pay Milt Rowland, a former assistant city attorney for Spokane, up to $75,000 to assist the city in the case brought by Detective Jay Mehring. Rowland is part of the firm Foster Pepper.

Jon Brunt has more at the Spin Control blog.

Spokane detective in lawsuit on leave

A case that was settled in criminal court two years ago is still percolating in the Spokane Police Department, with a detective suing the city for defamation and his boss, Chief Anne Kirkpatrick, putting him on paid leave, saying his claims of emotional distress make him unfit for duty. 

Detective Jay Mehring (pictured) was removed from duty the same day Kirkpatrick was to give a deposition in the $3.5 million lawsuit, said Mehring’s lawyer, Bob Dunn.

Kirkpatrick declined comment, citing personnel issues and ongoing litigation. City spokeswoman Marlene Feist confirmed Mehring, who makes $79,364 annually, has been on leave since Sept. 9 but said she couldn’t provide details.

Dunn said Mehring was put on paid leave the same day a scheduled deposition with Kirkpatrick was cut short because she didn’t want Mehring in the room with his department-issued handgun.

Read the rest of my story here.

Read past coverage of the case here.

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