Up-date on Local attorney stands to collect one million in attorney fees from City of Palo Alto

Events surrounding this case goes back to March 29th,1997 where three Palo Alto police officers used excessive force to beat up Michael Schmidlin for alleged public drunkenness.

A jury ultimately found the three officers, Tim Martin, David Trujillo and Burt Milliken had in fact violated Micheal Schmidlin’s constitutional rights awarding Mr. Schmidlin $24,000.00 plus attorney fees.

None of the officers remain currently employed by the Palo Alto police department and the circumstances surrounding their departure remains unclear.  However, the battle continued to rage on in an effort to collect on the attorney fee’s having gone right up to the California Supreme Court.  A battle where attorney Mark Martel thought would have ended sooner.

All attorney fees in a prior favorable decision were left awarded by the California Supreme Court having resulted in their refusal to hear the case on appeal. Prior to this ruling, and in a statement to the press back in 1997, attorney Martel had this to say, ”It would be a really bad use a taxpayers’ money to pursue it further, but we will fight this to the end”.

The attorney fees are the only remaining issues in this case.  City attorney Donald Larkin continues to argue that the court failed to use the, “required methodology” in calculating Mr. Martel’s attorney fees.

It looks like the only legal recourse left for the city of Palo Alto in paying out legal fees that will now soon topple over a million dollars, is for the city of Palo Alto to continue the legal battle, on the dime of Palo Alto taxpayers and to petition the United States Supreme Court for injunctive relief.

Palo Alto city attorney Molly Stump will confer with council members behind closed doors this coming Tuesday in a special meeting at city council chambers on February 21, 2012 at 6:00 PM on whether or not to pursue this case any further.

Schmidlin v. City of Palo Alto Sixth District Court of Appeal, Case No. H034169

Up-date to our original story:

Million dollar baby?  Not quite.  Through our California Public Records Request efforts, Palo Alto city attorney Molly Stump has revealed the actual monies paid-out to date in this matter.

Dear Requestor –

The following information is available in response to your request for public records attached below.

Payments in the matter of Schmidlin v. City of Palo Alto through September 13, 2012:

1.       Judgment and Plaintiff’s Attorneys’ Fees and Costs: $797,454.11.

2.       City Attorneys’ Fees and Costs: $154,265.54.

Your request may encompass additional records that are exempt from disclosure under Govt. Code section 6254(b) (pending litigation); Govt. Code sections 6254(k), 6276.04, and Evidence Code sections 950 et seq (attorney-client privilege); Govt. Code sections 6254(k), 6276.04, and Code Civ. Proc. 2018.030 (attorney work product); and Govt. Code 6255 (public interest balancing).


Molly Stump
Molly S. Stump City Attorney
250 Hamilton Ave
Palo Alto, Ca 94301
D: 650.329.2171
E: Molly.Stump@cityofpaloalto.org

Attorney Marc Martel refused to return emails and phone calls seeking further comment.

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