Friday, July 31, 2015

Sixth Narcotics Officer Files Libel Claim

By Ralph Cipriano
Michael Bryant/The Philadelphia Inquirer

The sixth defendant in the so-called "rogue cops" case has filed a libel and defamation claim against District Attorney R. Seth Williams, Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey, and Mayor Michael Nutter.

Officer Linwood Norman filed a writ of summons Thursday in Common Pleas Court notifying the city that he was suing the three officials.

Norman's suit follows an amended defamation claim filed last week in federal court against the same three city officials on behalf of the other five defendants in the rogue cops case -- Officers Michael Spicer, Brian Reynolds, Perry Betts, John Speiser and Thomas Liciardello -- as well as the group's former supervisor, Lt. Robert Otto.

Now all six defendants who beat the rap are suing the city for defamation.

"Officer Norman was one of the six allegedly 'sick scumbags' referred to by Mayor Nutter after the indictment and he was one of the six officers who apparently was so contemptible and despicable according to Commissioner Ramsey that his badge needed to be melted," said Christopher D. Mannix, the lawyer who filed both lawsuits on behalf of the former narcotics officers and their supervisor.

The writ of summons in the Norman case was filed one day short of the one-year anniversary of the joint press conference held on July 31, 2014 by Police Commissioner Ramsey and Mayor Nutter. That's the event where Nutter called the defendants "sick scumbags" and Ramsey pledged to destroy their badges.

There's a one-year statute for libel and defamation claims.

All six defendants were found not guilty by a jury on all 47 counts in the RICO case, creating a legal predicament for Ramsey and Nutter. An arbitrator subsequently ruled that all six officers fired by Ramsey should be reinstated at their jobs with a year's back pay. The officers were also supposed to get their original badges returned to them, according to the arbitrator's decision.

In the federal case, D.A. Williams was sued for defamation because he sent a letter to the police commissioner in 2012 announcing that his office would no longer prosecute any cases brought by Officers Spicer, Reynolds, Betts, Speiser, Thomas Liciardello and Otto. The D.A.'s letter, however, didn't mention Norman. Whatever else the district attorney might have said that was defamatory about Norman is not mentioned in the writ of summons.

Mannix said he expect both lawsuits to be consolidated into one case in federal court before the same judge.

That's another interesting development. Yesterday, according to the docket in U.S. District Court, the federal defamation case filed by the cops was reassigned from Judge Felipe Restrepo to Judge Paul S. Diamond.

Judge Diamond is the same judge who's presiding over some 138 civil suits filed in federal court against the six former narcotics officers by some 200 plaintiffs. So Judge Diamond will be in charge of all civil lawsuits in the wake of the not guilty verdict in the RICO case, including the suits filed by both the cops and their alleged victims.

According to a scheduling order filed on June 2, the lawyers in the 138 civil suits against the city are supposed to jointly select six "bellwether" cases for trial by July 13. First sets of interrogatories in the bellwether cases were to submitted by July 23rd.

Armando Brigandi, the lead defense lawyer for the city, did not respond to a request for comment.


  1. Too bad the defendants can't sue the prosecutors for bringing the case into federal court in the first place, but the prosecutors cant be held responsible for anything they do wrong. Traffic Court and this trial should have been handled internally by the judicial review board and internal affairs, already in place to handle such allegations. Pretending to save the citizenry of Philadelphia from bogus crimes does more harm than good. The feds at 6 th and Market like to have a high profile corruption case running at all times, too bad they have to invent the crimes.

  2. Did "Binnsie" let the other lads know that they will have to be deposed?

  3. The "lads" can't wait to be deposed and tell the public what is really go on here since December of 2012.

    1. Transparency is a two way street. Careful what you wish may get it.

  4. In the Marshall Project today, an article printed July 29,2015 by David French for the National Review The Corner
    Over in Williamson County, Tennessee — just north of my home — prosecutors actually filed a motion asking the court to order a defense attorney to stop calling them “the government” in open court. Yes, that’s right — in my home state, it’s apparently now a slur to call the government by its name. In its motion, prosecutors claimed: “The State has noticed in the past few years that it has become commonplace during trials for attorneys for defendants, and especially Mr. Justice, to refer to State’s attorneys as ‘the Government,’ ” [prosecutors wrote.] “The State believes that such a reference is used in a derogatory way and is meant to make the State’s attorney seem oppressive and to inflame the jury.” This is a great little story by itself, but then the defense attorney, Drew Justice, went and committed an act of pure awesomeness. He filed a motion with his own request: He demanded his client no longer be referred to as “the Defendant,” but instead be called “Mister,” “the Citizen Accused” or “that innocent man” — since all defendants are presumed innocent until a judge or jury finds them guilty. As for himself, clearly “lawyer” or “defense attorney” wouldn’t do him, well, justice. “Rather, counsel for the Citizen Accused should be referred to primarily as the ‘Defender of the Innocent.’ … Alternatively, counsel would also accept the designation ‘Guardian of the Realm,’ ” Justice wrote. And since prosecutors are often referred to formally as “General” in court, Justice, in an effort to be flexible, offered up a military title of his own. “Whenever addressed by name, the name ‘Captain Justice’ will be appropriate.” Gathering steam, he went on to say that even “the defense” wasn’t adequate and that “the Resistance” would be far more appropriate. He then concluded his motion, returning to the formal language of court documents — sort of. “WHEREFORE, Captain Justice, Guardian of the Realm and Leader of the Resistance, primarily asks that the Court deny the State’s motion, as lacking legal basis.” According to Captain Justice, the court denied both motions. So the government is still the “government,” but Captain Justice, Guardian of the Realm, lives on in print – but not in court. Well done, Captain. You’ve made the Tennessee Bar proud.

  5. Lets stop calling the gentlemen police officers (6) The Rogue Cops!!!!!!!!

    1. What else should we call them?

    2. Here is a start. Officers Michael Spicer, Officer Brian Reynolds,Officer Perry Betts, Officer John Speiser and Officer Thomas Liciardello -- as well as the group's former supervisor, Lt. Robert Otto.

      I hope that answers your question.

    3. @11:26..^.. Ur off by one but thanks for playing. Next.

  6. You are so right. They were found innocent and they were framed by the government. Bravo to the jurors. They saw through all the nonsense that the prosecutors presented. What a shame the one officer Liciardello lost 9 months of his freedom for no good reason.

  7. Ur a classic pal.he should go to church everyday a thank god that it was only 9 small months


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