During his tenure as police chief, Charles H. Ramsey faced countless challenges from coordinating an emergency response on 9/11 to helping to track down the D.C. Sniper. Of course, his job had other lower profile responsibilities like crime fighting and answering then-Councilmember Kathy Patterson’s tough questioning.
So what can this veteran cop not handle?
Being deposed (again) about the mass arrests at Pershing Park on Sept. 27, 2002. Or at least being deposed (again) without some extra help. A few days ago, Ramsey’s powerful attorney Mark H. Tuohey sought a protective order for the chief asking that Magistrate Judge John M. Facciola sit in on the deposition.
In other words, Ramsey did not want to be deposed by plaintiffs lawyers without a federal judge chaperoning the proceedings. In public filings, Tuohey laid out a lengthy argument for why Ramsey needs such protection.
Tuohey argued that police officials had been subjected to “wasteful” and “harassing” depositions. On March 12, Assistant Chief Peter Newsham was deposed. Tuohey particularly objected to plaintiffs lawyers grilling Newsham about this snowball incident in which Det. Michael Baylor pulled a gun during a snowball fight.
Initially, Newsham told the press—-including City Desk—-that the officer did not draw his weapon. Newsham soon changed his position as more video and photographic evidence became known. It was enough of a quirk to draw some heated questioning from plaintiffs lawyers.
Tuohey characterized the questioning of Newsham as harassment and abuse. He writes that he expects that the Newsham deposition was a mere “preview of the free-for-all and waste of time in store for Ramsey.”
Tuohey also argues that Ramsey is a busy guy and shouldn’t be subjected to prolonged questioning: “Ramsey is currently police commissioner for the City of Philadelphia. It is not easy for him to take time away from that demanding post, especially considering how inefficient and unfocused the depositions have been thus far.”
Tuohey has to realize that Ramsey is not going to be questioned about a snowball fight. Nor is this deposition going to be a waste of time. No, he’s filibustering for good reason, a reason not stated in his filing. Ramsey is going to be questioned about the recent testimony by two police officials who stated that Ramsey gave the mass arrest order for Pershing Park.
Plaintiffs lawyers, citing those police officials, are going to ask Ramsey: Did you tell your subordinates to “lock those motherfuckers up?”
Judge Facciola did not buy Tuohey’s arguments. Today, he rejected the motion for a protective order. The judge wrote:
“I cannot believe that after seven years, the competent counsel who represent the parties in this case cannot conduct a deposition without adult supervision.”
Ramsey’s deposition is scheduled for March 26.
*file photo by Darrow Montgomery.