Los Angeles News

ACLU files civil rights suit against LA DA Steve Cooley, Sheriff Lee Baca

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The ACLU filed a civil rights lawsuit Tuesday against Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley and Sheriff Lee Baca, accusing them of trying to cover up deputies' assaults on jail inmates.

Two months ago, Jonathan Goodwin was found not guilty of assaulting a Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy while in jail. The jury found that Goodwin instead was assaulted by deputies.

Goodwin attended the ACLU conference where a lawsuit was announced alleging the sheriff and district attorney concealed evidence that potentially affected verdicts and pleas in thousands of criminal cases over the past decade.

The lawsuit names Cooley for allegedly suppressing evidence as a matter of policy. Baca allegedly hid details of deputy assaults on inmates from defense attorneys in cases where the law enforcement officer was the sole or principal prosecution witness.

The lawsuit is the latest legal challenge by the ACLU alleging malfeasance by the county's top law enforcers. The organization filed a suit earlier this year against Baca, claiming he and other top brass knew of inmate abuse but had done little to reform the department.

In a statement, Cooley said the lawsuit filed by the ACLU, certain defense attorneys and two law professors is a blatant attempt to mislead the public and court.

A spokesman for Baca said they were still reading the lawsuit but "we have done nothing illegal, nothing inappropriate."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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