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Public defender: Up to 30,000 cases need review in light of LAPD scandal

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LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- The head of the Los Angeles County Public Defender's Office said Thursday 20,000 to 30,000 cases require re-evaluation because of the continuing and expanding Los Angeles Police Department corruption scandal.

"I'm not suggesting that there are 20,000 wrongful convictions, but we will have to review those cases," said Michael Judge, head of the public defender's office.

"Each officer that has engaged in misconduct has arrested somewhere between 150 to 500 people within the five-year period -- but if we go to a 10-year period, then it certainly exceeds that," Judge said.

Previously, Judge estimated about 3,000 cases would require re-evaluation.

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CNN Correspondent Charles Feldman looks at what review of the cases could mean for the Los Angeles courts

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As many as 70 police -- current and former officers -- are under investigation by various state and federal agencies. Almost 100 wrongful convictions have been overturned.

In an exclusive interview with CNN, Judge said he has 20 full-time lawyers working on the potential corruption cases, costing taxpayers $4.5 million a year. Judge said it would take "many years" to review as many as 30,000 cases.

"I have heard other leaders in the justice system say that they will be retired before this is over," Judge said.

"It's devastating ... the disruption, the injustice and the loss of faith that all of us have suffered as a result of these revelations," Judge, who has been a public defender in Los Angeles for 31 years, said.

"I think that it reveals a police department that itself lost faith in the justice system and decided that they would be the judge, the jury, the prosecutor and the police officer."

The scandal involves charges that officers working out of the drug and gang-plagued Rampart Division engaged in everything from shooting unarmed individuals to fabricating and planting evidence against innocent people.

The U.S. Justice Department is also investigating the department for what it calls a pattern of police misconduct and other institutional problems.



RELATED STORIES:
LAPD officer fired in corruption scandal
August 10, 2000
LAPD officers face administrative charges in controversial shooting
July 26, 2000
CNN's Charles Feldman reports on the LAPD corruption scandal
July 18, 2000
Judge approves new charges against LAPD officers
July 15, 2000
LA judge sets aside 96th conviction in police corruption probe
July 13, 2000
Pittsburgh settlement could be model for LAPD reforms
May 12, 2000

RELATED SITES:
The Los Angeles Police Department
Los Angeles County District Attorney Homepage
United States Attorney's Office, Central District of California


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