January 31, 2023 by Tom Roberts, Esq.
Despite the shocking jury verdict, Lt. Nazario faithfully served his country and his oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic. By filing suit, he exposed the behavior and brought about change.
Lt. Nazario's Oath
“I Caron Nazario, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.”
Excerpt of Filing - Document 254 - Brief of Lt. Nazario - "Overall Success"
Lt. Nazario brought change to Windsor
- Lt. Nazario’s counsel served as private attorney generals for the United States of America.
- Lt. Nazario suit engendered rigorous national debate.
- Lt. Nazario’s suit spawned criminal and civil investigations.
- Lt. Nazario’s suit prompted the Virginia Attorney General to file suit against the Town of Windsor Police Department.
- Lt. Nazario’s suit led to the termination of Joseph Raymond Gutierrez.
- Lt. Nazario’s suit caused the Town of Windsor Police Department to
- revamp its training to include de-escalation and implicit bias
- update the policy and procedures
- rethink hiring practices with civilian input
- to seek alternative means of traffic enforcement to limit these types of interactions with the public
- Lt. Nazario suit made it safer for citizens traveling US 460
The United States Supreme Court held that the “extent of a plaintiff’s success is a crucial factor in determining the proper amount of an attorney’s fee award under 42 USC § 1988.” Hensley, 461 U.S. at 440. While the amount of damages that the plaintiff recovers is relevant to the amount of attorney’s fees to be awarded under [42 USC] § 1988, it is, however, only one of many factors that a court should consider in calculating an award of attorneys’ fees.” City of Riverside v. Rivera, 477 U.S. 561, 568 (1996); Saleh, 95 F. Supp. 2d at 567.
This is because the important civil and constitutional rights that the suits seek to vindicate cannot be valued solely in monetary terms. And Congress has determined in passing 42 USC § 1988 that the public as a whole has an interest in the vindication of the rights conferred by the statutes enumerated in [42 USC] § 1988, over and above the value of a civil rights remedy to a particular plaintiff. Regardless of the form of relief that she actually obtains, a successful civil rights plaintiff often secures social benefits that are not reflected in nominal or relatively small damage awards. Rivera, 477 US at 574; Saleh, 95 F. Supp. 2d at 568. As explained below, this suit had substantial success in reshaping the Windsor Police Department and terminating Joseph Gutierrez.
Additionally, the Rivera and Saleh courts have explained that while the damages a plaintiff recovers can contribute significantly to the deterrence of civil rights violations in the future it recognized, as did Congress, that a plaintiff who obtains relief in a civil rights law suit does not do so for himself alone, but also as a private attorney general, vindicating a policy that Congress Considered of the highest importance. Rivera, 477 US at 575-76 (citing H.R. Rep. No. 94-1588, p.2 (1976))(internal quotations omitted).
This was a major success of this litigation that was not reflected in the jury’s verdict and was only possible due to the filing of the suit, the resulting media coverage, and Plaintiff’s counsel’s willingness to work with the media.18 The suit engendered rigorous debate at the local, state, national, and international levels. It spawned a myriad of criminal and civil investigations and a referral from the special prosecutor to the Department of Justice.19 It prompted the Virginia Attorney General’s Office to file suit against the Town of Windsor Police Department under the Virginia Human Rights Act (Case No. CL21001186-00 – Isle of Wight County Circuit Court). It led to the termination of Joseph Raymond Gutierrez.20 And perhaps most importantly, it caused the Town of Windsor Police Department to revamp their training21 to include de-escalation and implicit bias22, updated and tripled the policies and procedures that the Town of Windsor Police Department used, so much so that it required them to deploy them in two separate tranches.23 It caused Windsor Police Department to rethink hiring practices and seek civilian input.24 It caused Windsor Police Department to seek alternative means of traffic enforcement to limit the interactions their officers had with the public.25 In short, it triggered an almost complete restructuring of the Town of Windsor Police Department which will have long lasting implications for that agency and others. This has made the citizens of Virginia and all who travel down US 460 through the Town of Windsor far safer than they were prior to Lt. Nazario launching his litigation. None of this would have occurred absent Lt. Nazario’s litigation and in this respect – notwithstanding the jury verdict – it vindicated substantive civil rights, protected the citizens, forced changes generally unobtainable in civil litigation. Therefore the under the Rivera, 477 US at 574 and Saleh, 95 F. Supp. 2d at 568 rubric of success means that the Plaintiff was wildly successful in his overall litigation.
Lt. Nazario continues the fight
Category Assault & Battery, Assault & Battery, Civil Rights, Excessive Force, Fourth Amendment, Freedom of Speech and Press, Litigation, Personal Injury Law | Tags: Lt. Nazario, Nazario wins, Results in Nazario trial, results of Lt. Nazario trial, windsor, windsor virginia
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