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$20,000,000 (twenty million dollars) in lawsuits? WOW

Original post made by Colleen Anderson, Atherton: West Atherton, on Oct 21, 2010

If I am correct Atherton has at a starting point $20,000,000 (twenty million) in lawsuits against them. How much will our insurance company handle? Will they find us negligent, and have us cover the costs? How much do we have in our budget? How many lawsuits can you get before an insurance company drops you? What will Atherton do if or when our insurance company drops us? Anyone have polite factual answers?

Comments (43)

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Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Oct 21, 2010 at 3:34 pm

Atherton, like most Bay Area municipalities, is part of ABAG (Association of Bay Area Governments) and participates in their Pooled Liability Insurance Network (PLAN). Here's the link: Web Link

I suppose that if a municipality had a large and continuing liability claims experience, that ABAG could eventually drop them. But the town would be covered by any claims as long as they participated.


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Posted by Jon Buckheit
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Oct 21, 2010 at 3:42 pm

Colleen is actually onto something (but in reverse) POGO. NO INSURANCE policy covers intentional acts of malfeasance, just accidental/negligent acts.


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Posted by colleen Anderson
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Oct 21, 2010 at 3:50 pm

Thanks for talking nice. This makes it fun and I am learning a lot. Please tell me more.


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Posted by Colleen Anderson
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Oct 21, 2010 at 4:10 pm

For example: our building department signing off on a sump pump that doesn't exist. Is that fraud or negligent? A report being changed, and no one has come forward to change the facts in the case. It was only found out over 1 year later at trial. fraud or negligent. Not finding out and reporting how the report was changed fraud or negligent? Please answer nicely with facts. I am here to learn not bash.


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Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Oct 21, 2010 at 4:27 pm

There is no standard for intentional acts versus negligence - it's a subjective call. Even a jury determination of intentional doesn't mean the insurer will deny the claim.

Since ABAG is self-insured by cities and towns, they generally take a very broad view of negligence and a narrow view of intentional acts. Perhaps because it might be their town next and they want coverage.


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Posted by Hank Greenberg
a resident of another community
on Oct 21, 2010 at 4:41 pm

AIG ultimately covers the claims. They underwrote them. [Portion removed. Stay on topic.]


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Posted by Ed
a resident of Atherton: other
on Oct 21, 2010 at 4:44 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


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Posted by Proud to be Blue
a resident of another community
on Oct 21, 2010 at 7:52 pm

POGO you clearly don't support law enforcement and speak out of both sides of your mouth. On the Buckheit thread, you posted

Two words of advice for the Atherton Town Council: Settle. Fast.

But here you admit that Atherton is covered by insurance. Atherton has nothing to lose by fighting this nuisance lawsuit. Police officers are entitled to have their day in court to prove they've done nothing wrong.

If Atherton is covered by insurance, why does it need to settle fast? Because you dislike police? Or do you think the laws and courts only apply to rich people like Buckheit and not police? How is that fair?


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 21, 2010 at 8:08 pm

Proud:

It's very simple, see if you can follow along. The sooner the city settles the less they will likely have to settle for. If the city repeatedly makes large claims against their insurance, the rates go up. That costs the citizens of Atherton even more money in the long run in increased insurance rates.

I don't hate the police, I was one. I hate dirty cops. They give those of us that did our jobs honestly a bad name. Atherton has a dirty cop in its midst. That person needs to be exposed, fired and prosecuted.


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Posted by Ed
a resident of Atherton: other
on Oct 21, 2010 at 8:50 pm

Menlo Voter-How can you be so sure the dirty cop didn't retire last fall (right between the first and second Buckheit hearings)in an attempt to be long gone. Think about it.


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 21, 2010 at 8:55 pm

Ed:

if the dirty cop retired, he can still be prosecuted and should be.


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Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Oct 21, 2010 at 9:29 pm

Proud -

There isn't a conflict at all.

The Buckheit litigation is civil, not criminal so cops don't "get their day in court." But that day will come for them if our district attorney ever decides to file criminal charges against the cops, as I think he should. As Menlo Voter noted, retiring from the force doesn't immunize you from criminal charges. In some ways, it may make you more vulnerable.

And just because you have insurance, doesn't mean you shouldn't settle, especially if you have injured someone. You only compound the insult by making the victim jump through hoops. Do you like it when your landlord made you sue them to get back your security deposit?

In this case, a strong signal has been sent to the Town of Atherton. The first was the court's finding of factual innocence. Given the natural bias of judges to favor law enforcement, that was a pretty telling signal. The second was the recent rejection of the motions to dismiss. The judges are signaling the Town that they are in trouble. The courts couldn't be any louder or clearer if they posted billboards.

There's usually a "discount" for settling early. Making a plaintiff go the distance is a sure way to maximize your liability. And either way, the insurance policy probably has a deductible (which the Town will have to pay) and the Town's premiums may skyrocket because of this bad exposure and experience.

As I said to the Atherton Town Council: Settle. Fast.

And as Menlo Voter said, just because I'm pro-law enforcement doesn't mean I tolerate bad cops. I don't. I predict that Mr. Buckheit is going to be an even richer resident very soon.


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Posted by Jon Buckheit
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Oct 21, 2010 at 10:12 pm

The editor deleted Ed's post above stating the same poster was using multiple names. Prior to that post being made, the only posters on this thread were myself, POGO, Colleen Anderson, and Hank Greenberg (and I doubt that was the former CEO of AIG). Ed's post was about the ABAG defense lawyer in my litigation. I would like to make clear that I was not the author of that post.


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Posted by Banker
a resident of Atherton: other
on Oct 21, 2010 at 11:07 pm

Settle? Heck no. Buckheit should press on with his case. Take a few depositions, play prisoner's dilemma, catch a cop in a lie then prosecute the bugger.

What should scare the daylights out of the Police Department is the fact that Buckheit has all the money he needs. This case is about justice and accountability.

If I were a dirty cop in Atherton at the moment, or one that just retired, I'd be looking for a good defense lawyer and a line of credit to pay the guy.

Atherton has some serious problems. Problems that money or insurance won't solve.


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Posted by Proud to be Blue
a resident of another community
on Oct 22, 2010 at 12:15 am

What do you mean POGO? Buckheit gets his day in court through this lawsuit but the Police Officers don't? They don't deserve the chance to defend themselves.

Banker says this case is not about money. It's about justice and accountability. Well, you would never know that by the $10 million Buckheit is asking for. What you all don't get is that Chief Guerra will take care of accountability issues. If Police Officers have done anything wrong (and they have not), Chief Guerra will decide the appropriate discipline along with the district attorney. This hasn't happen because nothing wrong has happened. And if it did happen, it needs to stay private as all personnel matters involving Police Officers are and must be. This is the law.

Buckheit, nothing wrong has happened here other than Police Officers properly doing their jobs. And you haven't been damaged even if any honest mistakes were made. As I understand, you were in jail for about an hour before your money bailed you out. What's your beef? You need to try to break a Police Officer to feel like you're being bowed to?


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 22, 2010 at 2:11 am

Proud to be blue states:" And if it did happen, it needs to stay private as all personnel matters involving Police Officers are and must be. This is the law."

Fortunately in our democracy police officers are neither above or exempt from the law. If they break the law, as opposed to having an administrative infraction, their offenses are NOT protected by confidentiality.


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Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Oct 22, 2010 at 6:06 am

Proud to be Blue is a distractor and not a very good one at that.

One of the cost for the Town of Atherton for our District Attorney not prosecuting the dirty cop in the Buckheit case is that the entire police department is suspect.

That includes retired Chief Glenn Neilson.

This will not be complete until at least one Atherton Police Officer is identified, charged and trial takes place.


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 22, 2010 at 7:41 am

Proud:

you are full of it. If Chief Guerra was going to do someting about the dirty cop he would have done so already and you know it. You also know someone is dirty and someone DID do something wrong as an officer testified in court, under oath that his report had been tampered with. Someone tampered with it and that person is guilty of a crime. You know it and I know it. Time will tell if Guerra will develop the stones to take care of this problem. The DA has shown repeatedly that he doesn't have the stones to prosecute so what's left is Mr. Buckheit's lawsuit.


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Posted by usual suspect
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 22, 2010 at 8:50 am

Proud to be Blue is in denial.

One day in jail is one day too many. Having a plea for help being returned by an arrest is adding insult to injury. There was a crime, this fact is inescapable.

Menlo Voter and Pogo have unrealistic exectations. Guerra can't just simply waive a wand and have the perpetrator of the crime fall on his sword, neither can the DA.

Buckheit's asking for alot of money, way more than he deserves. But that's how negotiations play out in the big leagues.


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Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Oct 22, 2010 at 9:42 am

Dear usual suspect,

Perhaps you can explain to us why this can't happen.

"Guerra can't just simply waive a wand and have the perpetrator of the crime fall on his sword, neither can the DA."

Our DA can charge whoever he wants whenever he wants.

My question is why do you say the above statement about our District Attorney?


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 22, 2010 at 10:26 am

What is real scary is that Proud, who believes that police officers are not publicly accountable for breaking the law, may actually be a police officer.


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Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Oct 22, 2010 at 11:30 am

Usual suspect -

I have no expectations concerning this case, only advice for Atherton's Town Council.

Concerning the fate of the offending police officers, if Chief Guerra was doing such a great job and so interested in rooting out bad cops, why hasn't he taken any action in the nearly one year period that this sore has been festering?


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Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Oct 22, 2010 at 11:33 am

Proud to be Blue -

Civil litigation, by definition, is ONLY about money. There's actually nothing else Mr. Buckheit can sue for.

And a jury will determine his damages. I think being falsely arrested, handcuffed, jailed and having the police report falsified is going to be difficult to defend... especially when the current police chief says false reports happen all the time.


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 22, 2010 at 11:54 am

One other thing Proud. If as you say "nothing has happened," why is the case of the falsified report still under investigation? If there was nothing to investigate, as you claim, then the case should have been closed. But it's not. So, I think you know what that means.

Also, the requires internal disciplinary matters to remain confidential. Officers brought up on criminal charges have no such protection. A crime was committed here.


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 22, 2010 at 12:01 pm

One last thing Proud. You try to minimize what happened to Mr. Buckheit, claiming he was only in jail for an hour. How about if the shoe was on the other foot? How about we handcuff you, throw you in the back of a police car, put you in jail for an hour, falsly charge you, refuse to give you a copy of your police report and then force you to spend large sums of money to prove your innocence? Do you think you would just shrug it off? The answer is a big fat NO!

Seriously proud, if you actually are a police officer, you disgust me. You display the worst of the police mentality. People like you are one of many reasons I left the profession.


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Posted by Jon Buckheit
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Oct 22, 2010 at 12:06 pm

POGO: I can ask and have asked for more than money in this civil litigation.

I have asked for specific judicial determinations that the so-called "county policy" the officers have said they relied on is illegal, and that the Atherton PD must (and should be ordered to) reveal to me who falsified my police report.


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Posted by reality check
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 22, 2010 at 2:39 pm

[Post removed; unsubstantiated allegations of criminal behavior violate terms of use.]


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Posted by Ed
a resident of Atherton: other
on Oct 22, 2010 at 2:59 pm

[Post removed; refers to a deleted post that violated terms of use.]


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Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Oct 22, 2010 at 4:16 pm

My point is that civil litigation judgments are only measured in dollars.


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Posted by Proud to be Blue
a resident of another community
on Oct 22, 2010 at 8:57 pm

To Pogo, Carpenter, Menlo Voter and Stogner, you say that Chief Guerra purposely isn't disciplining the Police Officer who ALLEGEDLY falsified the Buckheit report.

But when the APD did catch an officer with a stolen golf club that officer was swiftly prosecuted for theft and police report falsification.

My point is this proves that Chief Guerra will take action when there is evidence to support it.

There is no evidence here, just the tantrum of a multi millionaire who expects Police Officers to act as if he is their CEO. Read the recent article in which outgoing manager Gruber admitted this.

Another good man lost because of Buckheit and McKeithen.

The Police Officers will have their day in court and will prevail.[Portion removed; attacks on other posters and malicious innuendo violate terms of use.]

Menlo Voter, glad you left the force. You're not cut out for it. Maybe Buckheit can give you a job like he did for Johns. Haha.


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Posted by John P Johns
a resident of another community
on Oct 22, 2010 at 9:11 pm

Ok Proud to be blue. I'll take the bait.

I as much as anyone understand the difficulty Guerra faces as Chief. He's got a fine line to walk. On one side he's got officers represented by a union and the Peace Officer's Bill of Rights to contend with.

On the other side he's got meddling and micromanaging politicians.

On an all together other front he follows in the footsteps of chiefs of police who had difficulty controling their tempers and their desires for the finer things in life. These flaws compromised their ability to uphold the law.

Then there are the expectations of some, not all, but some in Atherton who, by virtue of the power and wealth they have accumulated expect and demand preferential treatment.

To be sucessful in the truest sense of the word requires a Police Chief to have the ethics of a saint the the ability of Superman.

During my six years of employment with the Town I had limited contact with the man. I don't know him very well. I doubt he's a saint or a superhero but I have heard that he is an honorable and a decent man.

It is my sense that if the Atherton Police force is to change for the better, it will require more than a heavy hand by the Chief. It will require the rank and file to do some soul searching.

The rank and file of the Atherton PD will have to come to grips with why their image has been so badly tarnished.

Until that happens I doubt there is much hope for the Atherton Police Department. Instead I would expect the chorus to outsource the Department will grow.

The chorus will reach a cresendo when Buckheit wins his lawsuit. He will win, despite your wishes.


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Posted by Colleen Anderson
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Oct 22, 2010 at 9:38 pm

For the record if there was any mistake or problem with Jon's case Atherton had a lot of time to come forward with the mistake. I went to part of the trial. What is sad is the fact the DA trying to prove there case NEVER had the girlfriend/ex-girlfriend at the hearing. We had a number of Atherton officers & from what I know a lawyer there. The officers asked if they could stay to hear the out come. Please not on my dime. They were only there to say the truth as they knew it. Not stay to find out the out come. If they wanted to stay I am not willing to pay for it. Again why weren't the facts of the police report being incorrect said before this went to trial. Where was the DA's star witness? A lot doesn't make sense to me or others. Why didn't the DA at the beginning of the trial state the report had been changed. Jon from what I know isn't suing for one hour in jail as many have said he is suing to find the truth. He has spent over 100,000.00 (one hundred thousand dollars) for truth. The time in jail is nothing compared to the sleepless nights he has faced trying to find truth. I have asked the police directly they cannot comment. I have asked Jon directly he just wants to know the truth. Why does finding out the truth have to turn someone life upside down? Shouldn't the truth speak for itself? "Yea shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free" a wise person once said. It is sad the lawyers make money getting to ....... Not Jon's fault. he is innocent for wanting to know the truth. I want to know the truth. Please let's find out what happened with the police. Let's find out why we wouldn't give Jon his police report. I want to know why his ex-girlfriend wasn't at the trial. Why wasn't she questioned on the events?....... No bashing I just want to know the truth. When I was a teen I wanted to be an officer. Some of the Atherton police officers I would give my life for. They are amazing. Others the way I first hand heard them talk about us I don't want them in my home. I was shocked at what I heard. I however have been happy to find the kind ones that I would take a bullet for. I mean that. We have some officers on our force that would take a bullet for us, because they care about us. They far out weigh the ones that speak poorly of us. I will never forget the night I heard officers speak badly of us. However I will always remember how many true care about us and our town. Stop bashing Jon for wanting truth. It hurts my feelings we can be so mean to someone seeking the truth. Seeking truth isn't wrong. If my husband was an officer I would want him to work next to a honest officer. I would be grateful to Jon for seeking truth. I would want the officer that had my husbands back to file a correct report. Everyone should want truth. Jon only had to go to a lawyer because we made him to get his report. He made his money being honest. He is spending his money trying to find out the truth.


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Posted by Jon Buckheit
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Oct 23, 2010 at 1:19 am

Proud To Be Blue: Yes, that APD officer was prosecuted given videotape evidence of him selling the golf club in question, or so the story goes. I maintain that falsifying a police report is more serious than stealing a golf club as it is potentially interfering with someone's liberty and is malicious. I also maintain that if the standard of proof for prosecuting a police officer requires videotape evidence (that is, admissions in court such as Tony Dennis' are insufficient), that should equally apply to the individuals arrested by police officers (and as a result, we could cut down on the number of jails in California enormously).

John John states: "It is my sense that if the Atherton Police force is to change for the better, it will require more than a heavy hand by the Chief. It will require the rank and file to do some soul searching. The rank and file of the Atherton PD will have to come to grips with why their image has been so badly tarnished."

I think this is perhaps the most eloquent opinion yet offered on this subject and hopefully will provoke additional thought, not more rage, from the police officers reading and posting here.


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Posted by Jon Buckheit
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Oct 23, 2010 at 1:23 am

P.S. – Proud To Be Blue: If you would like to confront the San Mateo judge who issued the factual innocence, Judge Mark Forcum, and ask him if he was bribed or otherwise improperly influenced to issue his factual innocence decision, I would welcome that opportunity and will join you. He is a highly respected and long-time judge in this county who showed quite a deal of courage in issuing a decision that called out law enforcement for their mistakes. This is how the system is supposed to work, but sadly often doesn't. You are a discredit to your profession (if you are indeed a police officer) by resorting to such infantile arguments and invective.


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Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Oct 23, 2010 at 8:45 am

I've said this before,

Proud to be Blue is a distractor and not a very good one at that. He continues to misstate fact.

"To Pogo, Carpenter, Menlo Voter and Stogner, you say that Chief Guerra purposely isn't disciplining the Police Officer who ALLEGEDLY falsified the Buckheit report."

This is not about an allegation of a falsified police report. He/She knows this .


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Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Oct 23, 2010 at 9:32 am

Proud couldn't be more wrong.

Once a defendant is found guilty, they are no longer referred to as accused, they are convicted. Similarly, when the court makes an official finding, an "allegation" becomes a "determination." An allegation becomes a fact by the court and that's the reason the judge used the adjective "factual" to modify his finding of Mr. Buckheit's innocence.

It's actually no longer worth discussing. The cop admitted the falsification. Good enough for the judge. Good enough for me. Period.

Proud? Seems more like an ostrich. Probably not the best strategy for a defendant in a serious lawsuit.


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Posted by Colleen Anderson
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Oct 23, 2010 at 9:35 am

Please stop the name calling & bashing. Stick to the facts please.


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 23, 2010 at 9:45 am

Proud:

exactly the response I expected from you and as I said one of many reasons I left is your type of mentality.

There is no alledged falsification it is a FACT and you know it.

Yes, Buckheit will have is day in court and no, the police will not prevail. Unfortunately, it will probably be another couple of years before it happens.


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 23, 2010 at 9:52 am

Proud:

some information for you. I spent ten years behind the badge and left my department with 30 letters of commendation in my jacket. Not cut out for it? Don't think so. Tired of people like you and the politics is more like it.


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Posted by R.Gordon
a resident of another community
on Oct 23, 2010 at 1:03 pm

Dear Ms.Anderson......Thanks to your well written and honest wording of the case of Jon Buckheit and I have followed them even beyond this online site. Because of reasons which make me believe totally in Mr. Buckheit's innocence and know about the "fabrications" which can go on in "our halls of justice", I want you to believe that his standing up for his rights and the spending of $100,000.00 to defend his innocence, will not go to waste.He will be vindicated and also quite possibly help make things better for the rest of us in San Mateo County and not just Atherton alone. The helplessness one feels when he is attacked and not able to defend himself is something which you are pointing out and it has happened to me, to others and it is time to stop it. Thanks to strong, but gentle voice such as your own.
I praise your directness and seeking the truth.NEVER be a victim.


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Posted by Colleen Anderson
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Oct 23, 2010 at 2:06 pm

Thank you for your kind words. I like kind words. I however need to inform everyone of more facts I have been told. Jon's legal fee are now between $200,000.00 and 250,000.00 now. My understanding is they were upwards of $100,000.00 dollars plus after his factual innocence. I still do not understand why the DA didn't call in the ex-girlfriend to the stand. It is my understanding she told the police she had lived in the home for four years. I had to laugh at that considering Jon had only purchased the home two years before the incident. If I was an officer in this city that would have been a huge red flag for me. It had a for sale sign out front for a long time two years earlier. Plus I would think something should have been in the police data base for new ownership.


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Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Oct 23, 2010 at 3:40 pm

Whatever Mr. Buckheit is spending in legal fees, it's a pretty good bet that his adversary is spending the same.

While I fully support Mr. Buckheit's action and hope he wins his case, it's pretty clear that litigation can be blood sport for the rich.


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Posted by Ed
a resident of Atherton: other
on Oct 23, 2010 at 6:12 pm

Let's hope the bloody patriots prevail--a mexican standoff over money seems a bit off point


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