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Monday, October 11, 2010

Major scandal in Portland city attorney's office

Now they're apparently covering up for a police officer's Nazi sympathizer activities. Heads should roll in those attorney ranks -- but of course, given the dirt that the city's lawyers have on Mayor Creepy, it's highly questionable that that could ever happen.

Comments (36)

Looks like the Bar Assoc should be looking at this but that is another toothless, do little organization.

The Oregonian buried the more complete story in the Saturday edition again.

Note that it was Dan Saltzman who pursued this while he was police commmissioner.

I will also note that even though the story I linked to above currently has 67 comments, it is not on the Oregonian's front page list of "most commented" stories and there are 5 stories with fewer comments listed there.

What is it with the Oregonian manipulating its own reporting of abuses within the Portland Police Bureau?

Obstruction of justice by the CoP attorney's office? Disbarment?

Requisite picture of said police officer allegedly outfitted in Nazi garb:

Bizarrely, there's also an alleged relationship between KBOO and this case:

It's a small town.

Some of the commenters to the above linked article do have a point. While Kruger's fascination with the National Socialist German Workers' Party may indeed be reprehensible, how many Portlanders wringing their hands over this are walking around in Che Guevara shirts ? How many of them still enthusiastically espouse bankrupt Marxist ideology ?

How many are aware of the early alliance and extensive pre-1941 cooperation between National Socialist Germany and Stalin's barbaric Soviet Union, as exhaustively documented in the recent film, "The Soviet Story" ?

According to Hermann Rauschning in "Hitler Speaks," even the man with the funny little moustache once himself said the "The whole of National Socialism is based on Marx."

And then there is the pesky fact that Communist regimes murdered possibly 10 times as many innocent civilians as the National Socialists did, according to nearly every modern scholar who has studied the subject. For example, the formerly very prominent French Communists who authored the thousand page "Black Book of Communism," translated by the Harvard University Press, were so horrified by what they learned when the former Soviet Union opened it's blood soaked archives after 1991, that they publicly renounced their own political philosophy and spent a great deal of time documenting it's exorbitantly evil history for all the world to see.

Do any of you reading this even realize what kind of courage and humility this act took on the part of Courtois, Werth, Margolin and their Communist colleagues ?

Sure, get rid of the Nazi cop, that's fine with me. I don't like Nazis either. But keep in mind that Hitler's Germany didn't hold a candle to the Commies in the mass murder department.

The immediate issue here is the ethics of the city attorneys.

In other Nazi re-enactor news:

Why is This GOP House Candidate Dressed as a Nazi?

An election year already notable for its menagerie of extreme and unusual candidates can add another one: Rich Iott, the Republican nominee for Congress from Ohio's 9th District, and a Tea Party favorite, who for years donned a German Waffen SS uniform and participated in Nazi re-enactments.

Iott, whose district lies in Northwest Ohio, was involved with a group that calls itself Wiking, whose members are devoted to re-enacting the exploits of an actual Nazi division, the 5th SS Panzer Division Wiking, which fought mainly on the Eastern Front during World War II. Iott's participation in the Wiking group is not mentioned on his campaign's website, and his name and photographs were removed from the Wiking website.

Oops, same guy darrelp already mentioned. Oh well, some good pics. Today Ohio, tomorrow the world.

First, realize, a very large majority of police officers are doing a good job.

However, we are back to the basic public employee unions issue, how do you get rid of the bad apples, whether they are texting bus drivers, out-of-control police officers or just plain bad teachers.

Heck they can't even deny Hurley (FPDR) benefits he didn't think he deserved (the union pushed it as a warning shot).

So now we have one more layer, a compromised mayor who probably has Randy as a puppet-master.

I feel really sorry for anyone who doesn't have the option of leaving town.

"Cabbie," your view of history might be interesting, but it's a non sequitur regarding this incident.

A police officer who is now a captain apparently fashioned a shrine to war criminals in a public park. Then he said that he was "honoring the men because of their military exploits rather than their political affiliations." So, we have a guy carrying a gun and authorized to use it on our behalf who is interested in honoring war criminals for their crimes. And he got promoted after this was known.

Yes, there are, and have been other bad people in the world. What does that have to do with it?

One countries war criminal is another countries national hero. Just saying.

Do the police officers lose their freedom of speech and expression when they're off duty?

If he committed these acts while off the clock, I hope the ACLU rises to his defense.

If he committed these acts while off the clock, I hope the ACLU rises to his defense.

The ACLU defended the right of Nazis to march in Skokie more than 30 years ago.

Of course, firing Kruger wouldn't exactly abridge his right to free speech. Firing him wouldn't keep him from espousing his Nazi sympathies, and he'd have even more time to do so if he was unemployed. But officers in many jurisdictions can be removed even for off-duty unbecoming conduct.

That's the thing about free speech a lot of conservatives don't seem to understand. You can say what you want to but you are expected to live with the consequences if people decide to answer back.

Guys, you're missing a key detail: he nailed the memorial plagues TO A TREE!!! Around here, I'm surprised harming a tree is not grounds for immediate dismissal and/or a long prison term. Where's the outrage from the Friends of Trees and the Sierra Club?!

Jack, though the whole thing is reprehensible of course, I am not sure what the ethical issue is for the City Attorney's office. Could you explain more fully?

None, maybe the reason the Oregonian doesn't feature this issue is because in the recent past a few editors and other staff have been caught with DUI's.

There is a possibility that this guy has turned around, intellectually. It does happen.* In which case, he should be given a desk job and not allowed to carry firearms, and we can all move on.

As it is, it's DISGUSTING that he's being promoted while his secrets are being shielded by local government officials. DISGUSTING, and morally utterly bankrupt. The attorney/s involved should be summarily fired.

*For a heart-warming story on the recanting of dangerous dogma, check out the story of the jailed Egyptian cleric who co-founded Al-Qaeda, who wrote a manifesto against jihad/Islamist aggression. It soothes the soul to see what he has to say about a lot of things, including why there shouldn't be a healing-outreach/fab-cuddly/lovey-dovey/14 story muslim "community center" 2 blocks from ground zero.

A free-lance war memorial is as protected by the First Amendment as anything else, at least after the war is over, but you have to wonder about Sgt. Kruger. The burden is on him to show that his plaque is not a gesture of sympathy for history's most notoriously anti-semitic and white-supremacist regime or to show that his sympathies, whatever they are, do not reflect on his methods of policing.

If he wanted to wear a German uniform and go to re-enactments, why not go as Col. von Stauffenberg? He'd still have a cool uniform, but he'd carry a briefcase instead of a machine gun and be hoping for the best.

One countries war criminal is another countries national hero. Just saying.

It sure must sting to read this, but it's the damn unvarnished truth.

Elizabeth: I suspect the complaint on the ethics issue would be spoliation (destruction or alteration) and concealment of evidence. Once the signs became a discovery issue, the plaintiff's lawyers probably had the right to have them preserved as they existed at the time they were disclosed. There was a pending judicial matter. Removing them could be argued to be tampering with the evidence somehow. (The articles do not say that the lawyers had any part in taking down the "shrine") Then, after they were given to the defense lawyers, failing to turn them over to the other side may have been problematic, if they were subject to a formal discovery request. It sounds like they were preserved, so it depends on the communications between the lawyers and whether a court had ordered them produced. Can't know for sure from what is in the articles. If plaintiffs knew they existed but defense counsel objected to producing them, then the plaintiff's lawyers would have needed to go to court to compel their production. Sounds to me like the plaintiff's lawyers settled before taking that issue to the court (again no conclusive info in article on this issue). If so, the settlement would have also settled outstanding discovery disputes since the entire case would have been dismissed. Cases get settled by defendants all the time to avoid disclosure of sensitive or harmful evidence, and that is usually calculated into what they are willing to pay. If the plaintiff's lawyers wanted to force that issue, they could have refused to settle and sought a court order for production of the signs. Ultimately the decision whether to take the $$ offered or continue the fight, rests with the plaintiff himself. I didn't see anything in the articles indicating the City's lawyers lied about the existence of this evidence, or violated any court order with respect to its production, so I don't see an ethics violation by the lawyers, based upon the information in the articles. Don't know about the police standards. Also not justifying in any way the bizarre behavior of creating a Nazi shrine to begin with.

Guys, you're missing a key detail: he nailed the memorial plagues TO A TREE!!!

Screwed, not nailed, according to reports. And the trees were in a public park, not on private property.

From what I read of the case so far, the complainants knew about the memorial and had gone to the site after Kruger had removed the plaques.

As for the ethical issue, it's probably a matter of what the city attorney's office knew and when they knew it. If Kruger brought the plaques into the office before a discovery demand that might conceivably cover the plaques, then they'd be potentially guilty of failure to produce evidence. If the plaques were brought in after the office had fulfilled the discovery request, then it would probably be a bit murkier question.

Either way, it's pretty stupid of the city to be promoting Nazi sympathizers with $300,000 federal civil lawsuit judgments against them.

Dan Handleman of Portland Copwatch says the matter shows the need for Portland's police oversight system to have outside counsel, since he said it's clear the city attorney's job is to protect the city from liability.

It seems to me that the lawyers could be disbarred for REVEALING this information without authorization from their clients, the city administration. If there was discipline to be done in this case, it's not the job of the city's lawyers to mete it out.

I thought you were a lawyer, Jack. Why are you demanding that the city's lawyers breach their client's confidences?

There was a discovery request in a lawsuit. The city attorneys stonewalled the other side. I know and respect Alan Graf, the attorney who is raising these questions. I agree with him that there was an ethical breach here.

What about Drew G.'s point above? I'm not a lawyer, but his point seems reasonable that one reason you might settle is to avoid disclosure of even more damning evidence. Is that what happened here? Or is the defense required to turn over everything during discovery, regardless of whether settlement talks are underway?

One country's war criminal is another country's national hero. Just saying.

I think we need to be very clear that Hitler/Nazis/Waffen SS soldiers are not and should not be anyone's heroes. They're not heroes in Germany -- where Kruger's actions and sympathies are criminal acts punishable by jail time -- and they shouldn't be heroes anywhere else. There are lots of grey areas when it comes to judging historical acts. This is not one of them.

We'd need to see the actual discovery requests and responses. If plaintiffs formally requested specific evidence regarding Kruger's Nazi fixation, and defense counsel responded by saying they were not producing anything of that nature because it was not relevant etc., then it was incumbent on plaintiff's lawyer to move the court to compel such production. It is not an ethical violation for an attorney to refuse to produce evidence she thinks, in good faith, is irrelevant or not reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence, as long as you let the other side know you are taking that position, so they can challenge it. Nor is it the responsibility of the City attorney to tell the other side whether or not to pursue a court order in response to such an objection, prior to accepting a settlement offer in the case. The decision to do so or not, under those circumstances, would have rested with the plaintiff's attorney.
If on the other hand defense counsel did produce evidence related to Kruger's Nazi fixation, but concealed the existence or their possession of the plaques, then they could have an ethics problem arising from implied or express misrepresentation.
You really can't tell either way from what is in the articles, and (with all due respect) Mr. Graf's complaint at this point is just that, and nothing more (other than a headline). As with most such issues, the devil is in the details. Unfortunately the Oregonian (as it often does) has let its opinion be known in a supposedly objective news article, by stating the City attorneys "stashed" the evidence. We all know what that term is intended to suggest. I for one seriously doubt an attorney in the City's office would put his or her license at risk over this guy, or his case. The fact that they took possession of, and preserved the plaques, suggests good faith conduct on their part. But we'll see, once Mr. Graf's claims are vetted by an investigation or a tribunal that actually takes an impartial look at the evidence.

I appreciate someone finally addressing the headline in this posting with some analysis and potential explanation. Again, the whole thing is reprehensible. But the headline charge of "major scandal" and the statement that there are ethics violations remains based on assumptions and speculation at this point. See the discussion. I'd like to see facts before such a charge is made. Thanks.

Looking at the original story, I get some more context for the charges against the City Attorney's office that I didn't get from the direct link. I see your point, Jack - it sounds like the City Attorney's office was "vigorously" disputing Graf's discovery request, and then when the case was settled filed away the disputed evidence deep in city files (actually, a city storeroom, since I don't hink a plaque would fit into a city file).

But even in looking at all the evidence, I don't see any ethical breaches by the city attorney's office unless the resistance to Graf's discovery request was truly frivolous and without foundation. I know the ethics rules for public sector attorneys are somewhat different from those of private sector attorneys, but I don't think they include a requirement to give away the store when the public body they represent is being sued.

I suppose another issue might be if the city attorney's office didn't inform THEIR OWN clients (Mayor and Council) about the existence of the plaques, so that the Mayor and Council could decide whether to follow up on their existence. If the Mayor and Council did know about the plaques, then the responsibility for keeping them buried in the files rests solely with them.

If the Mayor and Council did know about the plaques, then the responsibility for keeping them buried in the files rests solely with them.

I don't think that would be the Bar Association's opinion. The ethical issue would be a breach of the OSB's code of professional conduct. According to the story, Graf said: "We sent the city wide-ranging discovery about these plaques and other Nazi activities Kruger was then involved in...". If accurate, that's pretty unambiguous.

Failure to produce evidence during discovery is pretty serious, I think. And don't make the mistake that the City Attorney is the legal representative of the mayor and City Council. They're supposed to represent the city. They're supposed to keep the City of Portland from various forms of legal hazard like, say, having to pay out big money in a lawsuit for failure to produce evidence asked for in discovery during a previous civil trial or making sure that someone who's likely to continue punching holes in the city's limp purse doesn't get even more power in the PD.

Who knows? Perhaps they made the cost-benefit analysis that a future failure to produce lawsuit was likely to be less expensive than fighting the police union on getting rid of a guy who put up Nazi memorials. Maybe they're saving us money.

"Don't be stupid be a smarty come and join the Nazi Party."

Springtime for Hitler from The Producers.

Darrelplant: From the original Oregonian story, the response the City Attorney's office gave to Graf's discovery demand:

"Sergeant Kruger's interest in German military history and related hobbies (military reenacting and collecting military memorabilia and books on military history) are not relevant to the claim or defense of any party and no further discovery should be allowed as to these matters," deputy city attorneys William Manlove and Tracy Pool Reeve wrote in a legal memo opposing further discovery and depositions of Kruger.

They didn't deny the existence of the plaques, they said that the existence or non-existence of the plaques was irrelevant to the claim or defense of any party. Now you and I may disagree about whether Manlove and Reeve were correct, but they were acting within their duty as lawyers representing their client, the city, in this litigation.

If Graf's client hadn't decided to settle, he could have pursued his discovery request and had a judge rule on its relevance. But he didn't.

Or the city attorneys could have produced the plaques. Or they could have acknowledged the existence of the plaques. If it wasn't relevant, it wouldn't have mattered. But they didn't.

Maybe that's their job. You're posting here from a state government computer, Gordon; perhaps as an attorney for the state, you know more about the ethical context here than I do.

As I said earlier, knowing Graf, whom I respect, I'd think that the city, for which I have little respect, did worse than just raise a relevance point. But without the whole file and history, I don't think any of us can judge for sure.

In any event, to me this is a scandal. Yes, a major scandal.

Considering how many years it took for the Holocaust memorial in Washington Park to work its way through the permitting process, I'm surprised that the watchdogs in the City planning department didn't throw the book at Capt. Kruger for flagrantly violating Portland's land use code.


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