Jury in Civil Case Finds For DA Rackauckas
We're a decade away from those days, and no one is happier than Rackauckas, who hopes that a two-minute hearing in the Ronald Reagan Federal Courthouse just before lunch today finally closes that ugly chapter.
A jury of six men and two women decided that Rackauckas did not illegally retaliate against Joseph P. Smith, one of the senior deputy prosecutors who revolted in those early days, by transferring him to prosecutorial Siberia: a tedious unit that collects child-support payments.
At the time, Smith didn't hide his contempt for his boss, whom he openly called "a crook."
We don't know what jurors thought about any of the evidence because they fled the courthouse. Smith said he accepted the jury's decision and was ready to "move on with my life." Rackauckas hailed the decision as an unmitigated victory.
"Obviously, I feel good," he said in the courthouse hallway afterward. "This was an opportunity for me to explain to the court and to a jury the reasons I took all of the actions I took [transferring or firing disruptive deputies]. There were a lot of allegations, but I think this jury listened to all of the evidence, weighed it and concluded that what I told them was the truth."
Not to take anything away from Rackauckas, but it didn't hurt to have Norman J. Watkins as counsel. I've watched Watkins at work for years. He's a bamboo-pole-skinny, physically unassuming fellow (with a daily cowlick!) who has bristled at my 2007 description of him as "frail but feisty." Yet, his courtroom skills are undeniable. Once again, I marvel at his ability to bring jurors around to his position.
--R. Scott Moxley / OC Weekly