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  1. #1
    Senior Member
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    May 2005

    Crime does Pay- For Illegal Immigrants in Dallas ... 98cbd.html

    City takes gamble in fake-drug lawsuit

    Dallas stands by settlement offer as jury begins weighing payout to wrongly accused man today

    07:11 AM CDT on Monday, May 9, 2005

    By ROBERT THARP / The Dallas Morning News

    Abel Santos is scheduled to go before jurors in a federal court today to ask them to put a price tag on his ordeal: The 30-year-old Mexican immigrant was wrongly jailed for four months and deported to a country he had not known since he was 10 during the infamous Dallas fake-drug scandal.

    The city is not contesting its liability in dozens of fraudulent arrests of mostly innocent immigrants who had bogus narcotics planted on them in 2001, so the only question for jurors to determine is the monetary value of Mr. Santos' experience.

    It's risky. By heading to trial fully accepting responsibility for the wrongful arrest, the city will be required to pay court costs and attorney fees for all parties, along with the costs of its own outside attorneys and civil attorneys representing former detective Mark Delapaz, who has already been sentenced to five years in prison for his role in the cases.

    Dan Boyd, a local lawyer not involved in the case, said the city could be playing a game of legal brinkmanship, waiting until a trial is imminent before putting up more money.

    "The city looks so bad and the public knows so much about the scandal, they'd be taking a risk that a jury would really go nuclear on them," Mr. Boyd said.

    Mr. Santos' attorney, Don Tittle, said city officials have done little to avoid a jury trial in Mr. Santos' case. The city paid out a combined $5.6 million to 16 victims in February.

    City attorneys offered a new round of settlements last week – approximately $1.15 million tentatively accepted by three additional victims. Mr. Tittle would not say what Mr. Santos has been offered except that it was not in the range of payments to other victims who spent long stretches in jail – typically about $300,000 to $480,000.

    City attorneys declined to discuss specifics of Mr. Santos' case or the other settlements. Interim City Attorney Tom Perkins said the city has tried to settle the most serious cases.

    "We've tried to resolve as many of the cases as we thought appropriate," he said in an April 27 interview, adding that going to trial with Mr. Santos is the "only option available."

    Mr. Tittle questioned whether the city has tried hard enough.

    "There's always an option to resolve a case," he said. "Clearly the same option was available on this case that was available on every other case."

    City Council members said they do not know the criteria that city attorneys have used to calculate their settlement offers. Council member Elba Garcia said she has been assured that the city has settled the worst of the cases.

    Based on court files and police records, it's unclear how Mr. Santos' case differs from those that prompted the highest cash settlements.

    Mr. Santos, whose only previous criminal offense was a car burglary when he was a teenager, was arrested in July 2001 as he returned to the Fort Worth Avenue auto-repair business where he worked. Mr. Delapaz had alleged that 24 pounds of what was believed to be cocaine found in the back of an abandoned pickup belonged to Mr. Santos. The substance was later revealed to contain no real drugs.

    Mr. Santos lingered for months in jail before his case was dismissed and he was deported. He now lives in Monterrey, Mexico, selling cars. His attorney says he was offered significantly less settlement money than some victims who had serious criminal offenses on their records or who spent only a few days in jail on false charges.

    Like three-quarters of the victims touched by the scandal – including those who received the highest settlement offers – Mr. Santos was living in the United States illegally at the time of his arrest.

    Last month, a jury convicted Mr. Delapaz of lying to a judge in order to secure a search warrant in one of the cases. He remains free after posting a bond until his appeal has been considered.

    Three other former officers face criminal indictments on charges that they lied to authorities or forged documents. Six former confidential informants also have been indicted in the theft of police money.


  2. #2
    Jeonju's Avatar
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    Jan 1970
    Mexico should be the richest country in the world. More oil than Saudi Arabia. The world's best beaches. Good infrastructure, considering.

    But instead, it's a cesspool. Mod edited


    There is no Rule Of Law in Mexico. The law does not apply to corrupt Mexican government officials. They rob their country blind, drive away investment and force their own citizens to emigrate.

    If we let things like this story mentions go on in this country, how will the US be different from Mexico? If there is no rule of law in the US, what's to keep us from becoming like them?

    There are 2 separate issues here:

    1) The plaintiff had illegally entered the US, for which he was correctly deported.

    2) But the city of Dallas not only ignored the Rule of Law, they subverted it about as much that is possible.

    I hope that the city of Dallas has to pay such a big judgement that they have to declare bankruptcy. It might teach a badly-needed lesson to other law enforcement agencies that, no, this is not Mexico and everyone here has to obey the law.

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