Friday, February 22, 2013

Judge rejects mistrial claim in Sacramento elder abuse trial

The judge rejected an effort Friday by lawyers for Emeritus Corp. to call off the Sacramento civil trial where the survivors of an Alzheimer's resident are suing the assisted living giant for elder abuse and wrongful death.
Emeritus attorneys wanted a mistrial on grounds that plaintiffs lawyer Lesley Ann Clement improperly contacted several current and former company employees – and "coerced" one of them – to influence their testimony.
Sacramento Superior Court Judge Judy Holzer Hersher turned back the motion, as well as an Emeritus attempt to disqualify Clement from the case, in a tentative ruling she released Thursday.
Hersher confirmed her ruling Friday, telling the Emeritus lawyers who continued to push for the mistrial and the disqualification, "I frankly have not heard anything today that changes my mind about these circumstances."
Outside court, the attorney who represented Clement called the Emeritus action "frivolous" and "a smear campaign." The attorney, Jim Murphy, said the defense action filed Jan. 25 suggests they believe they are losing the trial.
"Desperate times require desperate measures, and this was a desperate measure by a desperate party – I think they can read the tea leaves," said Murphy, a San Francisco lawyer who specializes in representing embattled attorneys and judges. "The testimony is not going well for them.

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