Torry Smith and Patricia Gray sued the City of Oakland and others on a civil rights violation, claiming that the Oakland police violated their civil rights when they went into their home and falsely arrested him on charges that he had a rifle. The rifle had been planted by OPD to force into custody in order to question him about assumed connections to a “drug lord”. Plaintiffs’ verdict for $5.85 million. The city must pay an additional $100,000 in civil penalties and that Officers Marcus Midyett and John Parkinson must each pay $100,000 in punitive damages, with the bulk of each figure going to Smith, who did not possess any weapon.

Nicole White, 31, was visiting a home in East Oakland and sleeping on a couch in the living room when an Oakland Police SWAT team serving a drug search warrant broke through the door after home resident Patricia Wilson slammed it in their face. One team member, Officer Chris Saunders, threw a flash-bang grenade toward a hallway, but it ricocheted into the living room, burning White on her chest and leg. Wilson was also injured, and has received a $45,000 pay-out from the city. The city of Oakland will pay out 1.2 million to settle the lawsuit.

LORENZO HALL V. CITY OF OAKLAND, et al. 3:2009cv01047
The city of Oakland agreed to pay $300,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by a Lorenzo Hall. A gun had been planted on Hall by an Oakland Police Officer, causing him to be jailed for almost two years for allegedly possessing a weapon illegally. Hall, a three strikes candidate, saw his case as a vehicle for holding rogue police accountable.

In 2005, Spencer Troy Lucas and Kirby Bradshaw had their pants pulled down on a busy West Oakland street by Ingo Mayer, who was an Oakland cop at the time. Mayer pulled them over for no lawful reason, Bradshaw and Lucas received $245,000 in damages and the City of Oakland shelled out over a million dollars for attorney fees and additional charges.

Oscar Grant was a fatally shot in Oakland, CA, in the early morning hours of New Year’s Day 2009. BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) officers responding to reports of a fight on a train returning from San Francisco, detained Grant and several other passengers on the platform at the Fruitvale Station. Officer Johannes Mehserle and another officer were restraining Grant, who was prostrate and unarmed, when Mehserle stood, drew his gun and fatally shot Grant once in the back. The events were captured on multiple digital and cell phone cameras. The following weeks saw both peaceful and violent protests. John Burris filed a $25 million wrongful death claim against BART on behalf of Grant’s family.

Oscar Grant’s family has set up a trust fund for his young daughter, Tatiana, asking for donations to be sent to the Tatiana Grant Trust Fund, Account #3879027641, and Wells Fargo Bank. Donations can be made in that account number at any Wells Fargo Branch. U.S. District Court, Northern District (2009)

OLIVER v. CITY OF OAKLAND, et al. 3:2008CV0414: Eleven Oakland Police Department officers, including two sergeants were terminated for their involvement in the falsification of search warrant affidavits. An internal investigation found that the officers knew or should have known that information in their affidavits about the testing of drugs was false. Numerous criminal cases were called into question due to the improper search warrants and untruthful statements. Several suspects have had the charges against them dropped or reversed. U.S. District Court, Northern District (2008)


Jody Mack Woodfox, a 27-year-old African American man, was shot and killed by police after a traffic stop in the early morning hours of July 25, 2008. The Oakland Police Department claimed that Woodfox was pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving, when he jumped out and made a “furtive movement” indicating that he was reaching for his waistband. Officer Hector Jimenez then opened fire and shot an unarmed Woodfox dead. Not only was Woodfox found to be unarmed, but a preliminary autopsy revealed that he was shot “numerous times” in his back from approximately 25 feet away. U.S. District Court, Northern District (2008)

ROE v. CITY OF OAKLAND, et al. 4:2008CV04228: The City of Oakland settled a $2 million federal lawsuit filed by 16 Asian American women who reported that Officer Richard Valerga touched them inappropriately during traffic stops. Valerga resigned and pleaded no contest in November 2006 to four misdemeanor counts of false imprisonment and violating the women’s civil rights. U.S. District Court, Northern District (2008)

SAULSBURY v. CITY OF PACIFICA C 05-01471 MJJ: Settlement of $395,000 in use of excessive force case involving use of a taser resulting in wrongful death (2007).

PEREZ v. CITY OF SAN LEANDRO C 06-06009 CRB: Settlement of $395,000 in use of excessive force case involving use of a taser resulting in wrongful death (2007).

JANE DOE v. CITY OF OAKLAND C 06-02424 MHP: Settlement of $190,000 in racial profiling of Asian women resulting in police sexual misconduct case (2007).

JANE SMITH v. CITY OF OAKLAND C 06-07171 MJJ: Racial profiling of Asian women by police officer resulting in a class action complaint for damages, declaratory and injunctive relief (2007).

GLENN DAVIS v CITY OF OAKLAND 3:02-cv-02257-SI: A former police lieutenant with the Oakland police Department brought a failure to promote discrimination claim based upon gender and pregnancy. The jury awarded her $2 million. Post trial motions are pending. U. S. District Court, Northern District (2006).

LOCAL 10, INTERNATIONAL LONGSHORE AND WAREHOUSE UNION v CITY OF OAKLAND 3:03-cv-02962-TEH: Anti-war protesters subjected to illegal force by Oakland Police Officers who pelted the protesters indiscriminately with non-lethal weapons causing serious injuries. Case settled with a new crowd control policy and nearly $2million in damages for all the victims. U.S. District Court, Northern District (2005/2006)

MURPHY v CITY OF OAKLAND 3:04-cv-03062-TEH: Twenty-six year old African American man standing on a street corner in his neighborhood talking with friends when two Oakland police officers approached the group of men and began to harass them and search them without probable cause. Murphy ran from the officers and during the ensuing foot chase he was knocked over a fence by one of the officers who gave chase. He is now permanently paralyzed. Case went to trial and resulted in hung jury. Vote was five to three in favor of plaintiff. Case settled for $1.2 million. U.S. District Court, Northern District: (2006)

JARAMILLO v COUNTY OF NAPA 3:04-cv-01740-SI: A Mexican American man who is now a paraplegic after he was wrongfully shot by a police officer. The case settled for $6.9 million. U. S. District Court, Northern District (2005)

DENMON v COUNTY OF SAN JOAQUIN 2:04-cv-01720-GEB: Man beaten to death by correctional officers. Case settled for $900,000. U.S. District Court, Eastern District (2005)

THOMAS v ALAMEDA COUNTY SHERIFF 3:03-cv-03484-WHA: Man committed suicide in jail under circumstances where jail and medical providers should have been on notice of his intent to commit suicide. Case settled. U.S. District Court, Northern District (2005)

WATSON v CITY OF LIVERMORE, et al. 3:02-cv-02830-WHA: An African American woman who was wrongfully arrested for allegedly interfering with officers as they were attempting to arrest her husband, a prominent Oakland physician, for driving under the influence. Case settled at trial and the City of Livermore agreed to provide sensitivity training to all departmental officers. U.S. District Court, Northern District (2004)

DAVIS v PARKINSON, et al. 3:01-cv-00888-CRB: African American male who was on parole was stopped without probable cause or reasonable suspicion and beaten by two police officers. The case was presented as an example of WALKING WHILE BLACK. Case settled. U.S. District Court, Northern District (2003)

MACK, et al. v. CITY OF OAKLAND, et al. 3:00-cv-04073-TEH:

ALLEN, et al. v. CITY OF OAKLAND, et al. 3:00-cv-04599-TEH:

HIGGS, et al. v. CITY OF OAKLAND, et al. 3:01-cv-00080-TEH: Class action police brutality suit against Oakland Police officers known as the Riders. Represented 119 individual victims who were falsely arrested and had drugs planted on them. Many were subjected to excessive force. Some victims went to county jail for a year; others went to state prison for 5 years. The case settled for $10.9 million plus specific reforms of the internal affairs departments, citizens complaints, use of force reports, field training officers, new system for accumulating data for early warning system and tracking officers, span of control and consistency of discipline. Also a court ordered monitor for 5 years. U.S. District Court, Northern District (2003)

VENERABLE et al v. CITY OF SACRAMENTO, et al. 2:01-CV-00369-DFL: An African American man who was in the midst of a verbal domestic dispute with his estranged wife was wrongfully shot and killed by Sacramento Police who mistook his cell phone for a weapon. Case settled $800,000. U.S. District Court, Eastern District (2003)

DUNLAP v. COUNTY MENDICINO, et. al 3:98-CV-00405-MHP: Woman with a known history of mental illness, committed suicide in jail after being released improperly from suicide watch. The jail had a history of understaffing as set forth in a grand jury report but the findings of that report were ignored until this case. Case settled before trial, attorney fees awarded U.S. District Court, Northern District. (2003)

FREITAG v. CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTION et al. 3:00-cv-02062-TEH: Female correctional officer subjected to discrimination and retaliation when she complained about the department’s failure to respond to exhibitionist masturbation conduct by inmates. Jury award of $600,000 plus attorney fees, case on appeal to 9th circuit. U.S. District Court, Northern District, (2003)

WU, et al. v. CITY OF ROHNERT PARK, et al. 3:98-CV-00387-TEH: An Asian man holding a broom stick was shot and killed by Rohnert Park Police. Officers said he held the stick in a “martial arts” fashion. This was a highly publicized case in the Asian community. Case settled $1 million. U.S. District Court, Northern District (2002)

MOORE et al. v. CITY OF OAKLAND, et al. 3:01-cv-01252 TEH: Seven African American college women wrongfully assaulted by Oakland Police officers while they were attempting to attend a fraternity dance. Case settled. U.S. District Court, Northern District (2002)

VAUGHN, et al. v. CITY OF SEASIDE, et al. 5:99-cv-20462-RMW: An African American man who was a diagnosed schizophrenic was shot and killed by Seaside police officers. The officers on the ground said he threatened an officer who was on the roof with him with a corkscrew. The police were called because his social worker said he refused to submit to a voluntary welfare hold. Case settled. Case changed the methods by which mentally ill people are contacted by police. U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, San Jose (2001)

CARTER, et al v. UPS 3:97-cv-01590-MJJ: Racial discrimination class action lawsuit involving the initial hiring, job assignment, training and promotions against UPS Western Region. Case settled monetary relief and reforms that caused the company to established hiring and promotional goals for handlers. U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (1999)

PATTERSON, et al. v. CITY OF OAKLAND, et al. 3:95-CV-01727-WHO: Group of innocent bystanders beaten by Oakland police officers because they did not disperse quickly enough after the annual “Festival at the Lake” event; Jury verdict for plaintiffs plus Attorney’s Fees. Crowd control policy was changed to ease tensions between community and police. U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (1997)

CASILLAS, et al. v. COUNTY OF NAPA, et al.: Wrongful Death case resulting from a failure to medically diagnose and treat a person who entered the jail because he was thought to be under the influence but he in fact had suffered a stroke. He was in jail for 5 days within any medical treatment despite pleas for assistance from him, other inmates and his family. Case settled. United States District Court Northern District. (2002)

BICHAIGE et al vs. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Class action on behalf of 5000 Kenyans and Tanzanians who were the victims of the Bombing of the American Embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam. Case is on appeal in the DC Circuit. United States District Court, District of Columbia


PEOPLE vs. CHRISTOPHER HOLLIS: < Young man accused of shooting a gun into a crowd of people accidentally killing his friend who had requested his assistance as she was in a verbal confrontation with some U.C. Berkeley football players. The victim was a freshman at Dartmouth. The case is still pending (2005)

PEOPLE vs. EARL SANDERS: San Francisco Police Chief and his entire command staff erroneously indicted for obstructing justice by the San Francisco District Attorney. The Chief and his staff were accused of attempting to cover up for the misconduct of three young officers one of whom was the Assistant Chief’s son. The case is known as “Fajita Gate”. The case received worldwide publicity. After grand jury transcripts were released the case was dismissed before trial. (2003)

IN RE JOANN: Twenty-two year-old college coed accused of neonaticide. Case was used to promote the “safe baby harbor” which allows women to leave unwanted newborns within 48 hours at a “safe baby harbor” location without any legal ramifications. (2002)

IN RE BRANDON T.: 6-year-old boy accused of attempted murder. The case received national attention raising questions about the criminal justice system’s efforts to prosecute young children. The case was featured on PBS Frontline as “The Littlest Criminal.” (1996)

USA vs. WILLIAM SPENCER: An Oakland minister was accused of defrauding the Bank of America of $160,000 through a telemarketing scheme involving credit cards. Defendant found not guilty of all charges. (1992)

PEOPLE v. DON NOBLE: U.C. Berkeley Football player accused of sexually assaulting a sixteen year-old girl. Exonerated of sex charges. Alameda County Superior Court (1990)

PEOPLE v. DEBORAH STEWART: Case called the “Cocaine Mom”. A woman who gave birth to twin babies while under the influence of cocaine and was charged with their murder. Alameda County Superior Court (1988)

PEOPLE v. JOLETHA HEAD: Case of a community leader charged with kidnapping the Mayor’s Aide in connection with the Economic Development Program. City and County San Francisco Superior Court (1983)

Represented numerous other defendants charged with drug related offenses, as well as other serious felonies including, homicide, sexual assaults and gun related cases.