Judge rules against activist group in Occupy Cal suit

Edwin Cho/File

Related Posts

At a Tuesday hearing regarding the ongoing Occupy Cal lawsuit, a federal judge made a procedural ruling against an activist group, which is seeking $15 million in damages against the university and other parties, but allowed the group one week to refile one of its complaints.

BAMN, a national group in favor of affirmative action, filed a lawsuit against UC Berkeley administrators, including former chancellor Robert Birgeneau, and officials of UCPD, Alameda County Sheriff’s Office and Oakland Police Department, alleging excessive force, false arrest and violation of the protesters’ rights during the Occupy Cal demonstrations Nov. 9, 2011.

At the hearing, Northern California District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers confirmed a previous dismissal of BAMN’s claims against two Alameda County Sheriff’s Office deputies, according to UC Berkeley spokesperson Janet Gilmore.

“We have maintained, and continue to maintain, that the lawsuit is unfounded,” Gilmore said.

BAMN submitted an amendment that attempted to reintroduce allegations against UCPD Lt. Marc DeCoulode of having administered false arrest. This had been dismissed earlier in the case, according to BAMN attorney Ronald Cruz, but was reintroduced using new information discovered during a judicial period.

The new information showed “particularly that DeCoulode was the commander of a vast majority of the violence during arrests,” Cruz alleged.

The district judge gave BAMN one week to resubmit the claim against DeCoulode, because she was not satisfied with the procedure presented.

DeCoulode was unable to discuss specifics regarding the matter.

Even with the dismissal of the claims, Cruz views the opportunity to resubmit as a victory for the group and believes that the judge recognizes the basis of their claim.

Shanta Driver, national chair of BAMN and lead counsel of the lawsuit, said the university is trying to argue that supervisors cannot be charged because even though they gave orders, they did not conduct the alleged brutality and false arrests. Furthermore, the subordinate police officers, who carried out the alleged violence and false arrests, cannot be charged for acting under orders.

“This case is an attempt to sandwich us into not being able to hold anyone responsible for what happened on that day,” Driver said at a press conference held before the hearing.

Attorneys representing the two parties met in February to settle on a judge and establish a discovery period. Both sides were given time to collect and exchange evidence and information. The discovery period is still ongoing.

If the amendment against DeCoulode is approved by the judge next week, it can be used in the lawsuit scheduled for July.

Contact Heyun Jeong and Amy Jiang at [email protected].