Wednesday, July 14, 2010

PI's plea deal resolves cop confrontation

by Tom Nadeau

Private eye Jason Littlepage entered a negotiated plea of no contest in Yuba County Superior Court Monday to a charge of disturbing the peace in connection with a March 18, 2009 incident.

The nolo contendre deal ended a year-long dispute with the Marysville Police Department and represented a significant retreat by the district attorney from the prosecution’s original allegation that Littlepage had been drunk and had obstructed cops responding to an on-going domestic dispute.

Littlepage was supposed to go to trial that day in the matter of People v. Littlepage, YCSC #09-273, but after four hasty behind-closed-door sessions Littlepage’s attorney, Jesse Santana, and Deputy District Attorney Brad Enos had worked out the deal presented to Judge James F. Dawson.

The new arrangement called for the originally charged misdemeanors to be reduced to a single minor infraction. Additionally, the several fines, fees and penalties usually imposed were cut from about $750 to $60.

If no further incidents occur over the next 12 months, Littlepage, who operates as Superior One Investigations, license #23633, may ask the court to strike the entire event and resulting infraction from his record, Dawson noted.

For his part of the deal, Littlepage got to vent for the record some of the anger he felt over how MPD officers had handled the matter.

How it happened ...

The cops’ version of what happened March 18, 2009 was stated in the “peace officers affidavit of probable cause” filed in connection with this incident. It said:
“MPD officers are investigating domestic violence call with two uncooperative and argumentative persons. Jason is friends with one of the involved parties. Jason walk[ed] up behind one officer and refused to leave after being told to. Jason causes both officers to divert from original persons to deal with him as he is screaming and creating disturbance. Jason is intoxicated and unable to care for own safety.”
Littlepage’s viewed things otherwise.

According to Littlepage, he was at home when he got a telephone call from one of the persons involved in the family dispute – a friend – who asked him to come and pick up a minor child and take care of him while the father dealt with the situation.

Littlepage approached the friend’s house on foot to find one officer outside the residence.

“I did not go there to confront an officer. I was there to pick up a kid,” Littlepage told the court.

But things went downhill. Fast.

“As I approached, one of the officers turned [on me] and placed his hand on his weapon. I put my hands up” fearing, he said, “this was going to be another Oscar Grant.”

Littlepage objected to the event in general and to the charges filed against him in particular, calling the police allegations “a mistake of fact.”

“I reluctantly take this plea,” he said. Among the factors in his decision were the mounting legal costs, he said.

Littlepage is a well-regarded local investigator. His attorney, Jesse Santana, is a prominent lawyer currently involved separately in People v. Santana, Vasquez, a high profile case also involving the Marysville Police Department and Yuba County District Attorney.

After the hearing, Notable Trials spoke to the friend, Skip Goldberg, who had called Littlepage for help.

The scene was tense, naturally – some furniture had been been tossed out of the house, etc.

“Jason told me to stay in the house. He would be over. Being inside the house, I couldn’t see what was going on with the police when Jason got here,” Goldberg said.

Following the resolution of the court matter, Littlepage release a concluding statement regarding the whole affair. He said:
I am happy that this case has been resolved. I maintain my innocence as to how the charges were originally filed against me, as believe that the State came to realize the matter was serious and that Officer(s) Miller and Stricker were out of line in their actions that day.

I reluctantly accepted the deal, on conditions that I may address the Judge, on the record in an effort to orientate the court to the criminal actions of Marysville Police Officers Miller and Stricker.

This brings this matter to a close and allows me to refocus my efforts on defending the constitutional rights of the accused in our criminal justice system.


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