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2011-08-06T00:00:00.000Z

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Wrong Tom Stribling?

Mr. Tom Stribling

Attorney

Little

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Little

Background Information

Employment History

Attorney

Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas

Attorney

Austin American-Statesman

General Counsel

APA

Affiliations

Lawyer
Austin Police Association

Education

University of Texas

political science and accounting

Texas A&M University at Commerce

Web References (61 Total References)


APA RELATED NEWS - Local News

www.austinpolice.com [cached]

In a briefing last week, APD Assistant Chief David Carter said a "struggle ensued" when Olsen attempted to question Brown and that Brown fled, scaled a fence, and took off running through a neighboring apartment complex. (The very brief struggle, during which Brown slapped Olsen's hand away from his shirt and ran, was recorded on an amateur video broadcast repeatedly on TV news and posted online.) The officers followed – Olsen ran around the fence, trying to head Brown off, said attorney Tom Stribling, a union lawyer who represented Olsen in the first hours after the shooting.

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Olsen repeatedly yelled for Brown to "show his hands," Stribling said.
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In other words, says Follmer's attorney Tom Stribling, it appears that being a probationary public safety employee in Austin - either a rookie cop or firefighter - means being an employee of no-man's land, working toward the promise of civil service protection, but without any interim employment protection.
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"The point is that [the city] just [doesn't] want to give rookie police officers and firefighters who've worked for the city at least six months, but are still on probation, any route for an appeal," Stribling said.
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Nonetheless, Stribling says Follmer's termination seems to hinge on what Ellison sees as "inconsistencies" in the statements Follmer gave to Internal Affairs detectives and to investigators in the department's Integrity Crimes Unit, which reviews allegations of criminal misconduct by police and other public officials. Stribling says that during Follmer's disciplinary review-board hearing, Ellison focused on a single answer Follmer gave to IA detectives as evidence that Follmer offered inconsistent explanations as to why he hit Hernandez. According to Stribling, Follmer told both IA and ICU officers that he hit Hernandez because he continued to struggle with the officers. Late in the questioning, however, Follmer told IA - in response to a direct question - that he might not have struck Hernandez if Gray, who was Follmer's field training officer and thus responsible for evaluating Follmer's performance during part of his probationary period, hadn't first struck the handcuffed man. Stribling says it was that answer that Ellison used as the basis to complain that Follmer was inconsistent.
That makes little - if any - sense to Stribling.
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Stribling filed an official notice of Follmer's appeal with Human Resources' Rodgers on June 7, seeking review by a hearing examiner who would be tasked with reviewing the case and then recommending to City Manager Toby Futrell whether Follmer's termination should be upheld or whether a lesser punishment would be warranted; Futrell would have the final say.
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At press time, Stribling said he was reviewing city policy and exploring the possibility of other avenues for appeal.
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"He's extremely happy," said Little's attorney Tom Stribling.
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Little's attorney, Tom Stribling, general counsel for the Austin Police Association, presented to civil service arbitrator Herman Bennett evidence of at least a dozen similar cases in which Knee had responded more leniently (from three to 60 days off), and not a single offending officer had been terminated.
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Stribling questioned the APD's apparently arbitrary distinction between what the brass considers a "mistake" versus a "lie."
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But as attorney Stribling pointed out during the hearing, that hasn't been the price for other officers who've committed similar infractions. Stribling offered evidence of more than a dozen similar cases, none resulting in termination.
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Yet Stribling recounted a case in which an officer had pulled over a drunken off-duty officer and drove the officer home, where he found evidence of a domestic dispute.
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Asked by Stribling to explain the time discrepancy in the documents, Knee initially sat mute. After a long silence, he claimed that there was, indeed, a valid reason for his belated request.
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Stribling asked how the DA's decision could have "affected this case if you'd imposed discipline before the grand jury" acted?
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Asked about the apparent conflict, Stribling said that pending the arbitrator's decision in the matter,"it may be necessary to resolve these conflicting statements through the judicial system."


The Austin Chronicle: News: Still Looking for the Truth at APD

www.austinchronicle.com [cached]

"He's extremely happy," said Little's attorney Tom Stribling.


APA RELATED NEWS - Local News

www.austinpolice.com [cached]

However, on cross-examination by Stribling, the Administrative Clerk admitted that documents have been misfiled in the past, and testified that he could not state under oath that the report had not been filed.


APA RELATED NEWS - Local News

www.austinpolice.com [cached]

Tom Stribling, an attorney for the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas who frequently represents officers, said the effort "may yield some interesting things."

"It is possible that there might be a history or pattern, or it might show that this is a total anomaly for this officer," he said.
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Tom Stribling, an attorney for the Austin Police Association who often represents officers in high-profile incidents, said he agrees with the practice of city officials hiring outside attorneys to represent officers who have been fired or suspended.
"The city, acting through the chief, has taken a position that is, or potentially is, in conflict with the position that the officer would want to present in the federal civil rights trial," Stribling said.
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Stribling said he plans to bill the city in the coming days.
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However, Stribling said Olsen probably would seek another attorney in the federal case.
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They weren't intended to one way or another punish him," said Tom Stribling, one of the officers' lawyers.
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"Sometimes the use of force doesn't look good, and we understand that," Stribling said.
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During closing statements Friday, attorney Tom Stribling, who is representing Olsen, told the panel that Acevedo had failed to adequately show why Olsen should have been fired.
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Stribling reminded the panel that officers who have worked in the department's training academy testified that Olsen had been taught to continue firing at a threatening suspect, even if the suspect had been hit and was injured.
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"He did exactly what he was trained to do, and now he is being fired for that," Stribling said.
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"This is not a popularity contest," attorney Tom Stribling said.
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Stribling reminded the city's three-person civil service commission this morning that officers who have worked in the department's training academy testified that Olsen had been taught to continue firing at a threatening suspect, even if the suspect had already been hit and was injured.
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"He did exactly what he was trained to do, and now he is being fired for that," Stribling said.
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Attorney Tom Stribling, who is representing Olsen, told the panel Wednesday that it could no longer hear the proceeding because it had not done so within 30 days of the filing of Olsen's appeal, nor had it set a new deadline with Olsen, as required by law.
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However, Edmonds told Stribling that the commission had already tried to accommodate Olsen by not conducting the hearing 30 days after the appeal at Olsen's request.
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Attorney Tom Stribling, said the commission violated state law by not agreeing with his client to a deadline on when they would rule.
During his testimony, Olsen said that he had communicated with Officer Ivan Ramos about which club patron might have a gun and that he knew a third officer was moments away. He said officers often investigate such reports without backup.
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Lawyer Tom Stribling must present in writing his objections to the commission on Thursday, when members will decide in a closed meeting whether to move forward with or suspend the case.
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Stribling said that state law says that if the commission cannot hear the case, and uphold the firing, Olsen would get his job back.
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Stribling said at the beginning of the hearing's second day that state law requires commissioners to hear a fired officer's appeal within 30 days of the termination, unless both sides agree to extend the deadline and set a date for a ruling.
It was unclear this morning why the hearing was not set within 30 days.
Stribling said that he asked for the hearing to be delayed to a point past 30 days, but additionally had requested in writing that it be completed by Feb. 19.
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"We think that because of this fact, there is nothing more you can do in this case," Stribling said. "You don't have jurisdiction to hear this appeal any further."
Stribling also objected during the hearing to the city's hiring of a Fort Worth lawyer to represent the commission. Attorney Bettye Lynn has built a practice representing cities in such matters, which Stribling said would be similar to the commission using an attorney who has traditionally represented police officers.
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Stribling said the commission should have independently hired a lawyer or sought an attorney to which both sides had agreed.
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Stribling said that Brown contributed to the incident by having a gun and fleeing police.
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Stribling declined to comment further.
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During the next few months, Stribling accompanied Griffin when internal affairs detectives questioned him and represented him at a disciplinary hearing where Griffin was fired.
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"Tom knew what needed to be said and when it needed to be said," Griffin said in an interview last week.
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When Austin police officers get in trouble or need a lawyer, the 51-year-old Stribling has become the man they turn to for help.
This week, Stribling faces what may be the biggest challenge of his careerso far:convincing the city's three-person civil service commission to give fired Sgt.
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"The odds are long, but I truly believe that if you know the facts, hear the evidence, and if you are devoid of outside political influence, that there is certainly reason why Olsen should not have been fired," Stribling said.
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Stribling has built a steady practice over the past 18 years by representing officers accused of anything from a negligent patrol car accident to shootings that may have violated department policies.
In recent years, Stribling has gotten several fired officers back on the force, including Griffin, whose patrol car video showed a use-of-force encounter between the officer and Jose Cruz at a bus stop on East 11th Street in which Cruz's nose was broken.
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Stribling said that he has been preparing for the Olsen hearing by poring through hundreds of pages of documents and that he knows every detail that led to Brown's death.
In previous use-of-force cases, he has tried to build a case focused on police training, tactics taught in other departments and expert testimony.
Stribling's most recent appeal involving a fatal police shooting was that of fired officer Julie Schroeder, who killed Daniel Rocha in June 2005.
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That decision "still hurts today," Stribling said.
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As a child growing up in Sulphur Springs, about 80 miles east of Dallas, Stribling wanted to become an attorney. He excelled in speech and debate and won second place in a national competition in high school.
But he never set out to represent police officers.
After graduating from what is now Texas A&M University at Commerce, where he studied political science and accounting, he enrolled in law school at the University of Texas and graduated in 1979.
He went to work for attorney Joe Colbert, who specialized in personal injury law, and became a partner in Colbert's law firm in 1986. Stribling said he liked the challenge of taking on major insurance companies with teams of lawyers.
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The Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas, which traditionally had provided officers with an attorney, had no full-time lawyer at the time in Austin to do that kind of work, Stribling said.
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Stribling said he enjoyed representing officers and learned the intricate state civil service law, which governs how cases involving officer conduct must be handled. When Colbert retired, Stribling started handling most of the cases.
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Two years ago, after more than decade in private practice, Stribling began working full-time as an attorney for the law enforcement associations, and his salary is paid by members' dues to the organization.
Officers can still hire their own lawyers and have the union pay up to $30,000 for their legal defense, but most choose Stribling, whose fees are not capped.
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"In my view, Tom is the absolute best you can get."
Last year, Stribling represented about 130 officers under investigation, most of whom were from the Austin Police Department. He has about 50 cases now. As he begins Olsen's appeal, Stribling has confidence in his case.
"The wins you get to savor for about 24 hours, then you have to get up and go to something else," he said.


APA RELATED NEWS - Local News

www.austinpolice.com [cached]

"This is a huge mess, and this is one of the reasons bypasses shouldn't be used on a routine basis," said attorney Tom Stribling, who represented Demoss.

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Attorney Tom Stribling, who represented Quintana, said his client is relieved by Acevedo's decision.
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"He is very appreciative of the chain of command and the chief for taking the time to really understand this case and understand what he was faced with," Stribling said.
Stribling said Quintana is eager to return to work.
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Quintana's attorney, Tom Stribling, attended the hearing along with several Austin police officers.
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"The grave concern that I have is whether or not the opinions of the detectives who did the investigation were contained within the file that was presented to the citizens review panel, the police monitor's office and the independent investigator," Stribling said.
"If those opinions were not included," he said, "then that has the appearance of, if not the reality of, certain individuals in the Police Department trying to railroad the investigation."
Stribling said police officials have not made him aware of the findings.
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"We are pleased that the process has worked, that the grand jury has reviewed all evidence and found that Officer's Quintana's actions were within the law," attorney Tom Stribling, who is representing Quintana, said today.
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Tom Stribling, who is representing Quintana, did not return calls seeking comment.

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