National Roundup

Oregon DOJ lawyer reprimanded for ‘inappropriate’ treatment

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — A high-ranking lawyer at the Oregon Department of Justice has been reprimanded and will work with an executive coach after an outside investigation found he violated state policy in an interaction with another lawyer.

The investigator found sufficient evidence to support claims that chief trial counsel Steve Lippold violated state policies that protect workers against harassment and retaliation and hold managers to a “higher standard” of behavior in 2017, The Statesman Journal reported Tuesday. The investigator’s 81-page report, dated Oct. 30, was released to the newspaper through a records request.

Steve Lippold has been the head of the trial division at DOJ, which defends the state and its employees against lawsuits, since 2014.

Lippold said he has asked Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum to reconsider the reprimand, saying the claims of senior assistant attorney general Heather Van Meter — who resigned from DOJ in October — lack credibility.

Van Meter earlier this year made multiple allegations against Lippold and four others at DOJ. The outside investigator, Portland lawyer Lori Watson, found evidence to support two out of Van Meter’s 12 allegations, including one against Lippold.

The investigator also found a “preponderance of the evidence” supported Van Meter’s allegation that a human resources official — Leslie Anderson, who has since left DOJ — failed to investigate Van Meter’s complaint about the interaction with Lippold.

Anderson declined to comment for this story.

Van Meter’s lawyer, Sean Riddell, said his client “agrees in part and disagrees in part with the final report” and is exploring all options to hold the Oregon Department of Justice accountable.

New York
Fox News, family of slain DNC staffer Seth Rich settle suit

NEW YORK (AP) — Fox News has reached a settlement with slain Democratic National Committee employee Seth Rich’s parents, who alleged in a lawsuit that the cable news company exploited their son’s death in stories and commentary.

Both sides confirmed the settlement on Tuesday.

Rich was shot and killed in 2016 in Washington, D.C., in what authorities described as a botched robbery attempt. His parents, Joel and Mary Rich, had objected to a Fox article and commentary falsely suggesting their son had leaked DNC emails to WikiLeaks during the presidential campaign.

Internet theories that Rich had been assassinated for leaking emails were contradicted by U.S. intelligence reports.

A lower court had thrown out the lawsuit, but the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan  last year reinstated it. The court said that the family had plausibly alleged what amounted to a campaign of emotional torture.

Rich’s parents, in a statement, said the settlement closed another chapter in their efforts to mourn their son, who was 27 when he was killed.

“We are pleased with the settlement of this matter and sincerely hope that the media will take genuine caution in the future,” the Riches, of Omaha, Nebraska, said.

Neither side disclosed financial terms of the deal.

“We are pleased with the resolution of the claims and hope this enables Mr. and Mrs. Rich to find a small degree of peace and solace moving forward,” Fox said in a statement.

February trial set  for police officer in fatal shooting

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (AP) — A February trial date has been set for a Huntsville Police officer accused of shooting to death an armed man who told police he was suicidal.

Madison County Circuit Judge Donna Pate set Feb. 22 for the start of the murder trial involving Officer William Darby, who was indicted in the case following the April 2018 shooting, multiple news outlets reported. The date is two days and a year after the original trial date was scheduled. The case, like many in Alabama, has been delayed for months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Darby, 27, is charged in the shooting death of Jeffrey Parker, 49, at Parker’s home. Parker had called police, telling them he was suicidal. Darby was the third officer on the scene and after Parker refused to drop the gun he held to his head, Darby shot him.

A Huntsville Police Department shooting review board found Darby had acted within department policy, but a Madison County grand jury indicted him. District Attorney Rob Broussard said he was “gravely concerned” about Darby’s actions after seeing body camera video of the shooting.

Darby asked Pate to grant him immunity from prosecution but she declined and Alabama’s appellate courts upheld her ruling.

The City of Huntsville has agreed to pay up to $125,000 for Darby’s defense. Darby had been on the police force for about two years at the time of the shooting.

Pate’s order says a pre-trial conference is set for Jan. 22.

A federal lawsuit filed earlier this year on behalf of Parker’s estate against Darby and the City of Huntsville accuses the city and Darby of excessive force.

Parents of autistic teenager sue police dept. over shooting

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The parents of a 13-year-old Utah boy with autism filed a federal lawsuit against the Salt Lake City Police Department alleging an officer shot the teenager 11 times.

The lawsuit filed in Utah District Court Monday claims the boy was severely injured when police responded to a call for assistance Sept. 4 while the unarmed teen was suffering a mental health crisis.

The civil lawsuit alleges multiple failures by the police department and responding officers, including the failure of officers to adequately assess the situation or seek guidance from superiors.
Officers aggravated the situation by using aggressive language and actions and intentionally turned off body cameras during and after the shooting, the lawsuit claims.

Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill’s office is investigating the case. The officer who was named as a plaintiff in the lawsuit for allegedly firing the shots was placed on administrative leave.
Salt Lake Police Chief Mike Brown, the Salt Lake City Corporation and 10 other people who are not identified are also listed as defendants in the lawsuit.

The Salt Lake City Police said Tuesday that the department had not been served with the lawsuit and would not comment on pending litigation and an open investigation.