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L.A. Police Lawyers Seek New Trial

December 5, 2000

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Lawyers for the first three officers convicted in a police corruption scandal say they plan to file a formal motion next week seeking a new trial.

The attorneys contend their clients _ Sgts. Edward Ortiz and Brian Liddy, and Officer Michael Buchanan _ were convicted Nov. 15 because some jurors were confused and at least one engaged in misconduct.

The officers were found guilty of conspiracy and perjury for framing gang members during a 1996 arrest. Prosecutors said the officers made false police reports claiming they were intentionally struck by a pickup truck. A fourth officer was acquitted.

The Los Angeles district attorney’s office plans to argue against the request at a hearing set for Dec. 21 before Superior Court Judge Jacqueline A. Connor, who presided over the trial.

Harland Braun, representing Buchanan, said jurors wrongly relied on a computer-generated police report about the incident that said ``great bodily injury″ was involved _ which the officers did not allege in their handwritten account.

Braun said the defense will also argue that the officers deserve a new trial because jury foreman Victor Flores allegedly told two alternate jurors on the first day of trial that he believed the officers were guilty.

The police probe surfaced after ex-officer Rafael Perez _ in a plea bargain on charges of stealing cocaine from an evidence locker _ told prosecutors of widespread corruption in the city’s Rampart station.

Perez never testified in the officers’ trial. Just before the trial was to begin, a former girlfriend of Perez’s came forward with allegations that Perez and another officer had killed three people.

The former girlfriend, Sonia Flores, 24, later recanted the statement. She was arraigned Monday for allegedly filing a false report with the FBI and was expected to plead guilty Tuesday.

``I think she’s apologized already,″ said her attorney, Marshall Bitkower.

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