WBUR

Worcester Responds To Nga Truong Lawsuit With ‘Unusual’ Argument

BOSTON — The city of Worcester is responding to a lawsuit that claims it violated the civil rights of a young woman during an interrogation by police with what legal observers are calling an unusual argument.

Nga Truong, who spent nearly three years in prison awaiting a trial on charges she murdered her son, was released after a judge threw out her case, calling her confession the result of coercive police tactics.

A day after the sudden death of her toddler, Truong went into the box with no lawyer or adult even though she was only 16 years old. And the police detectives, by their own admission, lied to her.

A judge ruled the confession was the product of deception and implied promises to “a frightened, meek, emotionally compromised teenager who never understood the implications of her statements.”

Through her lawyers, Truong filed a civil rights suit last December, alleging malicious prosecution, violation of her Miranda rights and false arrest. Now the city of Worcester is trying to make Truong’s trial lawyer, Edward Ryan, the defendant.

“Their complaint is absurd,” Ryan said. “This is a desperate attempt to apparently try to cast the blame for themselves onto me. And there is simply no factual basis for it and no legal basis for it.”

What the city claims is that Ryan allowed almost two years to pass before he tried to get Truong released by filing a motion to suppress her confession. Thus, “Ryan’s breach of his duty was a direct and proximate cause of [Truong's] alleged injuries and damages.”

The city’s lawyer was unavailable for comment.

Longtime Worcester defense attorney Peter Ettenberg says that in his 40 years he’s never seen anything like this.

“Murder cases are very important, the stakes are very high, and both sides want to make sure they do it right,” Ettenberg said. “To file a complaint against a lawyer who is only doing his job and did it extraordinarily well, and to try to put some blame on that lawyer who zealously represented his client and was victorious, is clearly unusual.”

Yet the city of Worcester claims that if it’s found liable for excessive incarceration of Truong, her lawyer will also bear blame. And to Ettenberg and other analysts, who call the counterclaim “bizarre,” the city’s contention seems an unpersuasive defense from Nga Truong’s lawsuit.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/bkort Barry Kort

    This is yet another story of an astonishing malfunction in the justice system.

  • J__o__h__n

    How does the city have standing to sue her lawyer for not performing his duty to her? If you stab someone and he dies due to medical malpractice from a doctor who failed to save him, you are still guilty of murder.

    • Richard McCarthy

      Without reading anything, I can guess that the city is “joining” the attorney and not directly suing him. It is claiming that the woman’s injuries were in part caused by the attorney’s actions and that he should be a party to the civil action so that his liability can be determined.

      In your example, if the victim’s family sued the stabber, the stabber could join the doctor in the civil action so he can be held liable for the victim’s injuries. It is a way to determine the culpability among two liable parties.

      • acerplatanoides

        ^ THIS

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=522228604 Steven Pierce

      Actually no. If it can be proven that malpractice was the cause of death the case may become “Man Slaughter” or A&A with Intent.

  • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

    Welcome to Worcester. This story is not surprising to anyone who is familier with police Chief Gary Gemme. He routinly ignores the laws of the commonwealth and the civil rights lawsuits caused by him have already cost the city millions. He is currently the subject of several lawsuits. His contract makes it so the city pays any and all legal bills and judgements against him and he cannot be fired by the city council. Sadly this is unlikely to be the final straw and these stories of corruption and civil rights violations will continue to come out of worcester. who do you call when the police chief is the one violating the law?

    • http://www.facebook.com/bkort Barry Kort

      Just another routine travesty of justice?

      • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

        probably, the city will pay off the victim and business as usual will resume down at police headquarters. the chief is the highest paid city employee. care to guess who is the second highest paid worker in the city? his brother

    • gorilla monsoon

      Scandalous! Remove that corupt police Chief Gary Gemme. This is not the Middle Ages. Who do you call when the Chief of Police violates the laws of the Commonwealth ?
      How about the Governor?

      • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

        they happen to be buddies. both fighting for gun control. The call would probably go something like this
        “hello govener gary gemme is illegally refusing to issue firearms liscenses”
        deval: “Great!”

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000523513841 Abdelali Azhari

        You actually call the mayor of the city not the Governor.

        • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

          in Worcester the Mayor does not have the power to fire the city manager. Only the unelected city manager can relieve him of his duty.

        • Regula

          Not really. The boss of the Police chief is usually the Attorney General. It would likely take an act of god there too to get anywhere.

  • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

    I hope this girl gets $10 million and then maybe we can finally force the city manager to fire gemme. we already cannot afford 70k to patrol one of the worst neighborhoods in the city meanwhile the police chiefs lawsuits cost the city millions yet he has no consequences for his behavior.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=522228604 Steven Pierce

      I hope that this story gets more attention. Not that WBUR is doing a bad job in coverage but I hope that this gets the national attention it deserves. This kind of thing is endemic of power without ethics or proper control. We do not need more laws controlling the citizen we need citizen oversight of the law and those we invest with the power of the law.

      • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

        yup BUR is the only place i have heard about this. i wonder if they have threatened the author yet? god bless you david please keep on this story and keep investigating Gemme there is plenty more dirt that needs the light of day to shine upon it

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