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Manuel Galvan v. Thomas Norberg and Alan Lucas

May 18, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Edmond E. Chang


Manuel Galvan filed this § 1983 action against Thomas Norberg and Alan Lucas, two Chicago police officers, seeking damages arising from a traffic stop, car search, and most significantly, his arrest.*fn1 After a one-week jury trial, which occurred over 6 years after the December 2002 arrest, the jury returned a verdict in favor of Defendants. Galvan moved for a new trial under Rule 59, R. 148,*fn2 and the motion was granted before Defendants responded. R. 151. Defendants have moved to reconsider the Court's grant of a new trial and ask the Court to reinstate the jury verdict in favor of Defendants. R. 154. For the reasons discussed below, the motion to reconsider is granted and the jury verdict for Defendants is reinstated.

I. As explained below, in the order granting a new trial, the Court held that Officer Lucas had fabricated an anonymous tip to justify, after-the-fact, the traffic stop and arrest of Galvan. Defendants' motion to reconsider the new-trial grant requires an assessment of the trial evidence, with a particular focus on the anonymous tip.

A. The Anonymous Tip

1. Officer Lucas' Testimony

Lucas testified that he arrived early to the police station on December 30, 2002. 8/3 PM Tr. at 23-24. While socializing near the front desk, Lucas answered a phone call. Id. The caller asked if any "narcs" were working, a term which Lucas knew referred to a tactical officer. Id. at 26-27. After answering that there were none available, the caller asked if a "blue belly" was available. Id. at 27-28. Lucas knew "blue belly" to be slang for a police officer. Id. After Lucas answered that he was a police officer, the caller said that he had information regarding a large quantity of cannabis being transported. Id. Before this tip, Lucas had received numerous anonymous tips before. 8/4 PM Tr. at 102 ("I can't put a number on it. I mean it could be 100, 200, 250. It could be a little less.").

According to his trial testimony, Lucas remembered that the informant provided the following information. "Two dudes" would be driving in a "tricked out" and "shiny clean" black pickup truck. 8/3 PM Tr. at 30-31. Lucas asked if he was looking for a "full trick" or a "half trick" pickup. Id. Lucas explained at the trial that, in his opinion, a "full trick" is a vehicle that has been elevated from its factory height with special wheels and loaded with aftermarket modifications. Id. at 31. A "half-trick" ride will also have some modifications, but not to the same extent; one might expect extra chrome, running boards, and/or some special paint. Id. The caller indicated that this would be a "half trick" pickup. Id. Lucas further testified at trial, after noting that the arrest had occurred long before trial, that the informant said the truck would be headed from north to south on Pulaski in the vicinity of Irving Park Road. Id. at 32. Furthermore, the informant stated that "the truck would be in the [area from the] time frame of 4 or 5 o'clock in the evening until 6 o'clock or thereabouts . . . ." Id. According to his testimony at trial, Lucas could not recall whether the race or nationality of the truck's occupants was told to him. Id. at 34-35. Lucas was then shown a copy of his deposition from March 2005 where he testified that the informant told him that the occupants would be Hispanic. Id. at 36-37. Lastly, Lucas remembered being told an approximate age of the occupants, but could not remember specifics: "I believe he gave me an age, I am guessing, I think he said between 25 and 30, 25 or 35, something like that." Id. 38. He reiterated his uncertainty about the age later in testimony: "[h]e said 25 to 30 or 35." 8/4 AM Tr. at 19; 8/4 PM Tr. at 93. In an earlier deposition, he testified, "I think I asked him how old they were, and he told me 25 or 30." 8/4 AM Tr. at 21. The actual ages of the occupants on the date of arrest were 21 (Juan Luna) and 42 (Plaintiff Galvan). 8/4 PM Tr. at 94; 8/6 AM Tr. at 166.

Lucas considered the tip credible given the informant's natural way of speaking, the specificity of the tip, and the use of police-work and drug-related slang, specifically, "blue belly" and "narc." 8/4 PM Tr. at 123.

After receiving the tip, Lucas went to "roll call" in the police station's basement. 8/3 PM Tr. at 42. At trial, Lucas testified that he did not tell anyone about the tip on his way to roll call or at roll call, other than his partner, Norberg. Id. at 42, 46. Lucas then testified about the nature of that evening's roll call, and he could not remember any specific details, including how many officers were there, who led the roll call, or how long it lasted. Id. at 42-45. When asked why he did not tell his watch commander about the tip, Lucas's response at trial was "I am not sure I didn't tell the watch commander. I am not sure that I did. . . . I am inclined to say that I didn't. I could have, but I wouldn't think so." Id. at 46. In his March 2005 deposition, Lucas testified, "Other than talking to Officer Norberg, I don't believe I spoke to anybody else about it." Id. at 48. Lucas repeated his uncertainty on this point throughout his testimony. Id. at 50, 54.

After roll call was finished and Lucas and Norberg began their patrol, they established a moving surveillance at Pulaski and Irving Park, looking for a vehicle matching the informant's description. Id. at 57-58. After some time, Lucas and Norberg spotted a truck matching the description and stopped it. Id. at 61. According to Lucas, it was around 5:30 or 5:45 p.m. at this time. Id. at 64. A dispatch record reflected some activity, although it is not clear if it was the actual stop, at 5:50 p.m. 8/4 PM Tr. at 157.

2. Officer Norberg's Testimony

Norberg remembered that Lucas told Norberg about the tip on December 30, 2002, before roll call. Id. at 168-69. Norberg testified that Lucas "might have mentioned something [about the tip] to the watch commander [Probeski], but really [didn't] know for sure." Id. at 169. Norberg could not remember what specific details Lucas had passed on before Lucas was interrupted by the beginning of roll call. Id. at 173. While Norberg did not tell anyone else about tip, he was not sure whether or not Lucas told anyone else after roll call. Id. ("He could have talked to somebody else.") When asked whether he knew if the caller had been male or female, Norberg testified, "I believe he related to me that it was a male caller." Id. at 174. In an earlier deposition, Norberg testified that he did not know if the caller was male or female. Id. at 175. Norberg did not remember when his deposition was taken, only that "[i]t was a long time ago." Id.

3. Lieutenant Probeski's Testimony

Lieutenant Joseph Probeski was a lieutenant for the Chicago Police on December 30, 2002. 8/6 AM Tr. at 75. He served as the watch commander; the watch commander is in charge of all police activity occurring in a district for the time he is on shift. Id. Probeski was in charge of roll call the day Galvan was arrested. Id. at 79. Probeski testified that he had been told about the anonymous tip. Id. at 82. Probeski remembered discussing the anonymous tip with Lucas, but could not recall if he also discussed it with Norberg. Id. The discussion of the tip was only a few minutes, id. at 84, but Probeski remembered Lucas providing the following information: (1) Lucas had received an anonymous tip about a large movement of cannabis; (2) the cannabis would be in a pickup truck; and (3) Lucas told Probeski the location and description of the truck, but Probeski could not remember those details. Id. at 84-85. In an undated but sworn affidavit, Probeski recounted speaking with Lucas about the tip, and included the specific details about the truck (among other things, shiny clean, tricked truck). Id. at 92. At trial, ...

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