Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Lawyers in Miles case told to pare lists of witnesses

A federal judge on Monday told lawyers in Jordan Miles' civil rights case against three Pittsburgh police officers that they need to pare down their lists of potential witnesses.

"Right now, there's like half of Allegheny County listed here," U.S. District Judge Gary Lancaster said.

Miles, 20, of Homewood claims officers Richard Ewing, Michael Saldutte and David Sisak beat him during a 2010 arrest. The officers contend Miles resisted arrest, and they used proper force.

Lancaster met with the attorneys in a final pretrial conference before the jury trial begins next week. The judge ruled on more than 20 motions on evidence he will allow during the trial.

Both sides agreed not to introduce the results of lie detector tests that Miles and the officers took. The judge said lawyers can use evidence about past conduct by the officers and Miles only to rebut what they say on the witness stand.

He said the defense could use prior statements from Miles' friends about what he told them only if they take the witness stand.

Still pending is a motion that Miles' attorneys filed on Monday asking Lancaster to sanction the defense for not preserving a Mountain Dew bottle the officers said gave them probable cause to suspect that Miles carried a weapon.

Miles and lawyers for the officers declined to comment after the hearing.

Tim O'Brien, one of Miles' attorneys, said they contend their client wasn't carrying a soda bottle in his jacket pocket, but if the officers use that to justify their subsequent actions, they had a duty to keep the bottle as evidence.

Miles' attorney J. Kerrington Lewis said even if the city produced a soda bottle, experts could have shown that it had no fingerprints or DNA to link the bottle to Miles.

Lewis said he has considerable evidence showing that Miles, then a senior honors student at the Creative and Performing Arts High School, suffered damage to his learning abilities and still suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder.

"It really has permanently injured him," Lewis said.

If a jury finds the officers violated Miles' civil rights, it will determine what damages to assess.

By Brian Bowling, staff writer for Trib Total Media, 412-325-4301, bbowling@tribweb.com

Source: The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

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