How Much is Evidence Really Worth

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LAPD officer's breaking up the unlawful gathering.

LAPD officer’s breaking up the unlawful gathering. How much was evidence really worth in this case? $4,000,000!

When attorneys determine a budget for their case, a question that is perhaps not asked often enough is how much is  evidence really worth to the case? NCAVF recently worked a case where the plaintiff was suing the City of Los Angeles for $4 million. In this case, NCAVF represented the defense, the City of LA. When millions of dollars, or even thousands of dollars may be in the balance, it’s crucial to devote the time, effort, and budget necessary to procure any and all evidence that can mean the difference between being awarded millions or having to pay millions!

In the above mentioned case, NCAVF worked for the defendant in Torres v City of Los Angeles. Mr. Torres wanted $4 million dollars claiming he was injured by LAPD officers while being arrested. In actuality, Mr. Torres refused to leave a downtown LA street while police were attempting to disperse a crowd of “Occupy LA” protesters who had become violent — almost to the point of rioting. Fortunately for the defense, Mr. Torres’ arrest was recorded by several bystanders. The difficulty, however, was in tracking them down. In one case, NCAVF even traveled to the home of one of the posters and searched their hard drive to make a high resolution copy of the original footage.

NCAVF was able to find some of the videos showing Torres’ arrest on video sharing sites, but as is often the case, they had been uploaded in a lower resolution than they had been originally recorded. This, of course, makes enhancing the video much more difficult, if not impossible. But when facing a potential $4 million case, it was certainly worth it to have NCAVF take the time required to conduct a proper investigation to find the highest resolution copies of the video in existence.

After deliberating less than two hours, the jury returned a complete defense verdict, awarding Mr. Torres nothing. Had the defense not been able to enter those videos into evidence, they likely would not have won their case. In fact, the attorney stated that before this case he had never fully realized how important it was to have a complete understanding and familiarity with the video evidence.

NCAVF also recently worked for the defense on another civil case where a known gang member — who was wanted for a double murder — was shot and killed by police during their apprehension. The family of the suspect was seeking a large sum of money from the police, our client. Here, one of the key videos showing the shooting was recorded in high definition by a smartphone. That video was aired on the nightly news. It was from this airing that NCAVF extracted the video. But because it was taken from a recording of the recording, the video’s quality had been degraded. The network that aired the video refused to give up a higher quality version. Nonetheless, NCAVF was able to enhance the video enough that is was usable in court.

Whether representing the plaintiff or defendant, always ask yourself (or your client) how much is this evidence worth to your case? Having access and use of any and all video or audio evidence may be the difference between $4 million and $0.

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