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SUCCESS STORIES REGARDING CIVIL CASES

December 2008: A mother reported that he son stole her vehicle.  Sheriff’s deputies found the car being driven at a slow rate of speed, then suddenly stop due to mechanical issues.   The driver never responded to officer’s commands.  He simply did nothing.   Instead of following protocols, deputies approached the vehicle, and upon noticing that the driver had his hands moving around in his pockets, opened fire and killed him.  No weapon was ever seen or found.  The case is in litigation in federal court.  The Palm Beach Post recently reported on this case:

See these two stories:

Palm Beach Post: Accusations rise in Lake Worth man’s slaying: Mother may seek more than $100,000

Palm Beach Post: Agency limits its reviews of deputies’ deadly force

August 2, 2008: A 16 year old student at a local high school was shot in the back and killed by a Sheriff’s deputy while he drove away from the deputy; a civil rights investigation was started, and litigation resulted in a favorable settlement for the wrongful death. (See Palm Beach Post article titled: Dead teen’s mom files lawsuit, February 16, 2009 | By Susan Spencer-Wendel The Palm Beach Post)

December 18, 2004: In what was considered one of the most litigated criminal cases in Palm Beach County, Telly Andrews was charged in January 2000 with attempted first degree murder of a law enforcement officer. He faced over 45 years imprisonment. It was alleged that he drove toward an officer, which prompted that police officer to fire about six rounds toward him, several of which hit him as Andrews was driving away from the scene, which was precipitated by a malfunctioning taillight. There was extensive debate on whether the crime scene confirmed the officer’s version of events. The first trial ended with an attempted second degree murder conviction, whereupon Val Rodriguez convinced the judge to order a new trial based on a series of errors by the State. The trial judge opined that the police officer should have been the defendant on trial. In the second trial, there was a conviction for aggravated assault, whereupon the judge issued a sentence for time served. The State appealed, and because of a change in state law, the trial judge had to change the sentence to three years imprisonment in December 2004. Andrews sued the City of West Palm Beach for improperly shooting him, and settled his excessive force civil case thereafter. (See Palm Beach Post articles titled: Judge Reluctantly Mets Out Penalty, published on December 18, 2004, and Anatomy of a Police Shooting, published on November 25, 2002, and Attempted Murder Verdict Tossed, published on April 6, 2001).

March 29, 2003: It was alleged that Gregory Holman tried to kill a police officer with his vehicle. He was shot while driving the car. The crime scene evidence did not support the police officer’s version of events. Although he faced 45 years imprisonment (and a mandatory minimum of 3 years imprisonment), the work of Val Rodriguez in reconstructing the crime scene convinced the State Attorney’s Office to offer him a plea to a year in the county jail as punishment. (See Palm Beach Post article titled: Deal Cuts Attempted Murder Charge to Assault, published on March 29, 2003).

First Amendment are Extremely Important Cases

Here are some examples of First Amendment civil cases:

February 8, 2008: Raylo, the producer of a DVD reality series filmed in West Palm Beach, was arrested for trespassing at City Place along with a friend, for merely being present and desiring to attend a movie; he argued that his presence at City Place was protected by the first amendment and that he could not be banned from City Place simply for producing his DVD reality series taken near City Place; a jury found him and his friend not guilty of the criminal charges, and he sued for a violation of his civil rights.  A settlement was reached with the City of West Palm Beach and CityPlace.

May 24, 2002: Valentin Rodriguez successfully defended a local radio station on first amendment grounds, it was sued for defamation and slander when one of its outspoken talk show hosts allegedly made fun of a call-in listener; after a mistrial was declared, the radio station was dismissed from the case. (See Palm Beach Post article titled: Judge Declares Mistrial for Radio Host’s Co-Defendant, published on May 24, 2002).

December 16, 1998: Millionaire Sandy Satullo wanted to place a large sign in his oceanfront yard in Hillsboro Beach, but town officials did not agree with the message: “Impeach Clinton,” and began assessing large fines. Valentin Rodriguez successfully sued the town under the First Amendment, and settled the case allowing the sign to remain. (See Palm Beach Post article titled: ACLU Files Suit Against Town to Let Millionaire Keep His Sign, published on December 16, 1998).

Other Civil Rights Victories

March 13, 2001: A civil rights group hired Valentin Rodriguez to represent a group of migrant farm workers in Ft. Pierce who were living in mobile homes, and because of neglect by the landlord, had no electricity or water provided by the city. (See Palm Beach Post article titled: Restore Power: Mobile Home Park Urges, published on March 13, 2001).

November 30, 2000: The School District, after being sued under Title IX in federal court, agreed to build a softball field for girls at John I. Leonard high school. Valentin Rodriguez was able to prompt construction of the softball field that had been delayed for two years, while the boys enjoyed modern baseball facilities. (See Palm Beach Post article titled: Lawsuit Settled as Team Gets Home of its Own, published on November 30, 2000).

July 3, 1999: Valentin Rodriguez successfully defended the City of Riviera Beach in a false arrest and battery case, where the arrestee had demanded more than $1 million in damages because an officer had allegedly battered him. (See Palm Beach Post article titled: Riviera Cleared of Excessive Force Claim, published on July 3, 1999).

March 31, 1999: Valentin Rodriguez successfully challenged a state law that required holder of commercial drivers licenses to be able to speak English fluently, despite the fact that the driving examination was offered in other languages and that language was not a criteria for driving skills; the law violated the constitutional rights of the CDL license holders, and was based on an antiquated federal law. (See Palm Beach Post article titled: Spanish Speaking Driver Wins Right to Keep Trucking, published on March 31, 1999).

August 24, 1998: Valentin Rodriguez successfully challenged local courtroom policies of extending probation for persons who are not able to pay court costs and fines, and then jailing them for later failing to pay those fines – arguing that we do not have debtors prisons. (See Palm Beach Post article titled:     Policy Extending Probation Disputed: Plea and Pass Deals Punish Poor, Some Say, published on August 24, 1998).

January 6, 1998: Valentin Rodriguez successfully challenged a city ordinance in Riviera Beach that prohibited persons from obstructing public passageways, and when doing so, had to give legitimate reasons for being on sidewalks, road, etc. The law was ruled unconstitutional, and ultimately, the criminal charges were dismissed against many defendants, and the City agreed to pay compensatory damages to those illegally arrested under the ordinance. (See Palm Beach Post article titled: Sidewalk Violations a Cash Cow for Riviera Beach, published on June 27, 1997, and Riviera Sidewalk Blocking Ordinance Unconstitutional, published on October 17, 1997).

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