City Desk

Pershing Park Case: Ex-Chief Ramsey Sought Judicial Chaperone For Upcoming Deposition


During his tenure as police chief, Charles H. Ramsey faced countless challenges from coordinating an emergency response on 9/11 to helping to track down the D.C. Sniper. Of course, his job had other lower profile responsibilities like crime fighting and answering then-Councilmember Kathy Patterson's tough questioning.

So what can this veteran cop not handle?

Being deposed (again) about the mass arrests at Pershing Park on Sept. 27, 2002. Or at least being deposed (again) without some extra help. A few days ago, Ramsey's powerful attorney Mark H. Tuohey sought a protective order for the chief asking that Magistrate Judge John M. Facciola sit in on the deposition.

In other words, Ramsey did not want to be deposed by plaintiffs lawyers without a federal judge chaperoning the proceedings. In public filings, Tuohey laid out a lengthy argument for why Ramsey needs such protection.

Tuohey argued that police officials had been subjected to "wasteful" and "harassing" depositions. On March 12, Assistant Chief Peter Newsham was deposed.  Tuohey particularly objected to plaintiffs lawyers grilling Newsham about this snowball incident in which Det. Michael Baylor pulled a gun during a snowball fight.

Initially, Newsham told the press—including City Desk—that the officer did not draw his weapon.  Newsham soon changed his position as more video and photographic evidence became known. It was enough of a quirk to draw some heated questioning from plaintiffs lawyers.

Tuohey characterized the questioning of Newsham as harassment and abuse. He writes that he expects that the Newsham deposition was a mere "preview of the free-for-all and waste of time in store for Ramsey."

Tuohey also argues that Ramsey is a busy guy and shouldn't be subjected to prolonged questioning: "Ramsey is currently police commissioner for the City of Philadelphia. It is not easy for him to take time away from that demanding post, especially considering how inefficient and unfocused the depositions have been thus far."

Tuohey has to realize that Ramsey is not going to be questioned about a snowball fight. Nor is this deposition going to be a waste of time. No, he's filibustering for good reason, a reason not stated in his filing. Ramsey is going to be questioned about the recent testimony by two police officials who stated that Ramsey gave the mass arrest order for Pershing Park.

Plaintiffs lawyers, citing those police officials, are going to ask Ramsey: Did you tell your subordinates to "lock those motherfuckers up?"

Judge Facciola did not buy Tuohey's arguments. Today, he rejected the motion for a protective order. The judge wrote:

"I cannot believe that after seven years, the competent counsel who represent the parties in this case cannot conduct a deposition without adult supervision."

Ramsey's deposition is scheduled for March 26.

*file photo by Darrow Montgomery.

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  • Rick Mangus

    Why not have Mo Barry aka 'Crackatoa' be his chaperone, they both have something in common, there both criminals!

  • DB

    Why would he say anything other than "no, I didn't say that and/or order the mass arrests"?

    And thus why is the deposition anything other than a waste of time?

  • Fred

    Hire some editors!!! The typos and grammatical mistakes are getting very distracting.

    Also, the search feature doesn't work very well. You type in a word and then you have to type it in again.

  • Former Staffer

    I want him arrested and criminally tried for intentionally violating the Constitutional rights of the protestors. Executive immunity does not cover intentional criminal acts.

  • Typical DC BS

    Hard to believe Philly hired Ramsay as their chief of police. They must not have bothered to research his wonderful tenure here.

  • Mac

    This is not a waste of money, far from it. Charles Ramsey is a thug who knowingly and repeatedly overstepped constitutional boundaries and then lied under oath to protect his ass and his pension. Worse still he compelled those under his command to do the same under duress.

    Mark Tuohey has been sucking at the public teat far to often and for far too long. Powerful? How so? Tuohey's once upward bound career has been in tatters for years and he is reduced to defending fascist thugs. He might want to step away from the bar for a time.

    Clearly as this thing moves forward, and it should, the City of Philadelphia will have opportunity to re-evaluate its relationship with Charles Ramsey. I would guess even a cursory look at Ramsey's application dossier would provide grounds for dismissal. Ramsey will then be less busy and have ample time to spend at the facility of incarceration in which he richly deserves to find himself.

    Again, Kudoes to Kathy Patterson and Phil Mendelson for keeping this alive by giving it the attention it trruly deserved.

  • Rick Mangus

    'Typical DC BS', I think Ramsay is police commissioner which is worst for those folks in Philly!