WASHINGTON, DC –The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit reversed a $900,000 judgment against the District in a case in which a jury had ordered the District to pay four Metropolitan Police Department that amount for alleged retaliation by supervisors after they filed complaints of racial discrimination in 2006. The plaintiffs are seeking $2.1 million in legal fees.
A three-judge panel of the appellate court ruled unanimously that a lawyer for the officers made “four inappropriate statements during her closing argument.” Three of these statements were “golden rule” arguments in which jurors were asked to place themselves in the position of a party in the case. The lawyer asked the jury to “put yourselves in the plaintiffs’ shoes” in determining damages. “Courts forbid golden rule arguments to prevent the jury from deciding a case based on inappropriate considerations such as emotion,” the Court held. The case was sent back to U.S. District Court for further proceedings.
District of Columbia Attorney General Irvin B. Nathan commended Assistant Attorney General Carl J. Schifferle for his handling of the appeal, working with Solicitor General Todd S. Kim and Deputy Solicitor General Donna M. Murasky.
- Ted Gest (202) 727-6283