July 31, 2001


I attended Small Claims Court onTuesday, July 31, 2001, as the plaintiff. Chief Bernard Parks was the defendant, but the chief didn't show up. Instead, there were four police officers including Richard F. Morrett, who is an investigator with the City Attorney's office.

Not surprisingly, Morrett presented a copy of the a Los Angeles city statute which showed that Chief Parks had immunity from being personally sued for not enforcing the law.

That was the bad news.

Here's the good news:

The judge informed me that I CAN take the city of Los Angeles (not Chief Parks) to small claims court. The judge dismissed this first case with prejudice. That means that I cannot sue Chief Parks again in this matter, but I can sue the city in small claims court without any effect placed on the case by the first small claims action for personal monetary loss as long as the new suit is a new incidence. Working this into a new incidence will be tricky.

In the meantime, I researched the California law.

Since the "incident" for which I will sue must have occurred during the last six months, I will revise my demand in terms of how much monetary loss I have had per month and sue for my loss over the last six months. This will be a much smaller amount than the $5,000 max which is allowed, but I am not interested in the money -- I am interested in having this quality-of-life law enforced.

There is a kind of an irony here. About two weeks ago, I received a letter from the city attorney saying that my case against the city has been denied. They even assigned a case number. I called the deputy city attorney who wrote the letter and told him that I was suing Chief Parks personally -- not the city. His response was that suing Chief Parks is the same as suing the city. As it turns out, one of the requirements to take the city to small claims court is that they must have first denied my claim against the city. And since the city cannot have it both ways, the city attorney cannot now say that I must first make a case against the city since that is what the city attorney said I have inadvertantly already done. Thus I had already met two of the three requirements:

You must present a written claim to the public agency.
The city said that is what I have already done whether I like it or not.

The claim must have been rejected.
The letter received from the attorney rejects my claim "against the city."

A copy of this rejection letter must be submitted with your claim, at the time of filing.
I did not submit a copy of the rejection letter, but this was not made an issue at the hearing.

Some time around the begining of November, I will file a new small claims suit agaomst the city. Check this site for continued coverage.

Hal Netkin