Civil-=rights attorney Joel Sansone, who in 2008 secured a $28 million jury award against two state troopers who shot an unarmed 12-year-old in the back, will be leading Jordan Miles' second civil trial against the three police officers Miles in January 2010.
Sansone, who filed his notice of appearance on May 2, told City Paper today that Miles' new trial team will be led by himself and Detroit-based civil rights lawyer Bob Giroux and also consist of Miles' lead attorneys in the first civil trial, J. Kerrington Lewis and Tim O'Brien.
Sansone and Giroux were the attorneys for Michael Hickenbottom, the father of 12-year-old Michael Ellerbe, who was shot in the back and killed by two Pennsylvania State troopers. The jury awarded Hickenbottom $28 million. Sansone was also one of the attorneys for convicted Bonusgate defendant and former state Rep. Mike Veon.
Giroux is a partner in the law firm of Fieger, Fieger, Kenney, Johnson & Giroux. which is led by famed attorney Geoffrey Fieger. who was also involved in the Ellerbe case.
"We're bringing in a new trial team and with the help of Kerry Lewis and Tim O'Brien, we are going to try this case against these three officers to a verdict that is hopefully favorable to this family," Sansone says. Sansone says he became involved after "having some discussions with Jordan and his family and they had a lot of disappointment.
"A lot of things happened at the trial that should not have happened," Sansone contends. "That's not a reflection on Kerry and Tim, but on some of the evidentiary rulings at trial. There are some real question marks here."
Among those decisions was the barring of testimony about the three officers' work history. In a filing earlier this year, Lewis indicated he wanted the judge to reconsider the original order and present information about the officers’ past conduct.
Those evidentiary issues will be brought before a new judge. On Tuesday, Judge David Cercone was assigned the case in the wake of the death of U.S. District Judge Gary Lancaster last month. Lancaster presided over Miles' first civil trial last summer, which lasted several weeks and resulted in a hung jury on charges of excessive force and false arrest. The jury found in favor of the officers on the charge of malicious prosecution.
The civil trial is currently scheduled for July 8, and although he's not certain, Sansone says he believes the case will likely be delayed. "There is a lot to digest in a very short period of time," he says.
The three officers, Michael Saldutte, David Sisak and Richard Ewing (who now works for the McCandless Police Department), claim they saw Miles skulking around a neighbor’s house at 11 p.m. on Jan. 12, 2010. They stopped him and identified themselves, they say. And they say Miles had a bulge in his jacket, acted like he had a gun and ran. They say he later assaulted Sisak and Saldutte and was the aggressor in the altercation. Charges against Miles, however, were later dropped.
Miles said the three men never identified themselves as police officers and jumped from the vehicle demanding guns, drugs and money. Afraid for his life, Miles says he ran and was attacked and beaten by the men. His face was swollen, hair was ripped from his head and evidence at the first trial indicates Miles suffers from brain damage and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.