City earmarks $360,000 to defend officers

October 16, 1997|By Robert Guy Matthews | Robert Guy Matthews,SUN STAFF

Baltimore will spend at least $360,000 to hire three outside law firms to represent police officers in criminal and civil cases this year.

The Board of Estimates unanimously voted yesterday to allocate $120,000 to each of the three firms, Piper & Marbury, Verderaime & Dubois P.A. and to Eileen A. Carpenter.

City Solicitor Otho M. Thompson said that the city, as part of its agreement with the Fraternal Order of Police, agrees each year to hire outside firms to represent police officers when they have been named as defendants in criminal or civil cases that arise from the performance of their official duties.

"Each [firm] will average about 20 cases a year," Thompson said.

In minor cases, the city's attorneys will represent the officers to save money, Thompson said.

People who sue most often name the police commissioner, mayor and City Council, as well as the officer, as defendants. City officials say that the officer's defense is often at odds with that of city officials, requiring separate representation.

Last year, the city budgeted $339,000 to hire four law firms. But because of the large number of cases, the city allocated an additional $750,000.

The money spent by the board yesterday does not include settlements or judgments that arise from police cases.

About 75 civil suits seeking $1.8 billion are pending against the Police Department.

Pub Date: 10/16/97

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