Judge tosses lawsuit against Tulsa in wrongful conviction
BY DAVID HARPER World Staff Writer
Saturday, September 08, 2012
9/08/12 at 6:58 AM
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A federal judge granted the city of Tulsa's motion for summary judgment Friday in a lawsuit filed by a Glenpool man who was freed from prison as a result of a police corruption investigation.
U.S. District Judge Tim Leonard ruled that while the court "does not countenance" the police behavior that prompted Bobby Wayne Haley Sr. to file the lawsuit, Haley did not demonstrate that the city of Tulsa should be held liable for it.
At least 14 lawsuits connected to the corruption probe have been filed against the city and are assigned to a variety of judges. Leonard's ruling pertains only to Haley's lawsuit.
However, Guy Fortney - one of the attorneys representing the city - said Friday night that he believes Leonard's finding that the city's policies are constitutionally sufficient will be applicable to other cases.
"Other judges will make up their own minds," Fortney said. "But we believe it's going to be persuasive."
Haley filed his complaint in June 2010, following being released from prison after serving four years of a 22-year sentence in a federal cocaine case.
Central to Haley's claim was the allegation that Tulsa police officers - including Jeff Henderson - coached an informant and improperly obtained warrants to search Haley's business and residence on May 27, 2004. Based on items that were seized during those searches, Haley was arrested, charged and ultimately convicted.
In December 2008, Haley filed a motion to vacate his sentence. In their response, prosecutors conceded that Haley's conviction should be vacated.
Government attorneys took that stance because they said an investigation into possible law enforcement corruption led to the discovery of credible evidence that Henderson - who is now in prison after being convicted of various charges last year - had committed perjury in an unrelated jury trial and in Haley's case.
In his lawsuit, Haley claimed that the city was liable for his wrongful conviction and that its policies and customs led to a violation of his right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures.
The civil case was filed against the city and the Tulsa Police Department.
However, Leonard previously dismissed the Police Department as a party, as well as all state law claims, leaving only Haley's constitutional claims against the city.
Leonard wrote Friday that there was no evidence of any unconstitutional policy or custom by the city.
"Rather, the policies submitted by the city reflect that the city expects its officers to act in conformity with their constitutional obligations," Leonard wrote.
The judge added that Haley conceded during his deposition that he has no evidence that the city trained its officers to secure search warrants using false information.
"There is no evidence before the court that the city was on notice of a pattern of constitutional violations by any police officer prior to the violations that occurred in this case," Leonard wrote.
He said Haley could "show neither an unconstitutional policy or custom nor deliberate indifference to his constitutional rights, much less that either were the moving force behind the constitutional violations at issue here."
Because the judge found that Haley could not establish municipal liability, he said the city was entitled to summary judgment.
Original Print Headline: Judge says Tulsa not culpable, tosses suit
David Harper 918-581-8359
Bobby Wayne Haley talks to the media after being released from prison in May 2010. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World file