A judge said Wednesday he is inclined to not order that documents related to an LAPD investigation into an officer’s allegations he was sexually harassed by Mayor Eric Garcetti’s former senior adviser be turned over to the policeman’s lawyers.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Curtis A. Kin issued a tentative ruling stating that he is leaning toward granting the city’s motion to quash the subpoena served by Officer Matthew Garza’s lawyers on the firm of Ellis & Makus LLP.
When the city found out about Garza’s harassment claims in June 2020, it hired the investigative law firm and asked attorney Leslie Ellis to conduct a probe into the officer’s allegations against former mayoral adviser Rick Jacobs and report her findings. In his tentative ruling, the judge said communications between Ellis and the city are protected by the attorney-client privilege and that any notes reflecting her impressions are also private.
Kin is scheduled to hear arguments on Thursday before issuing a final ruling.
In March, the city informed Garza’s lawyers that sometime in conjunction with hearings related to Garcetti’s nomination to Ambassador of India, a copy of the Ellis report, dated Feb. 22, was given to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, according to the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office’s court papers.
Although the city was not responsible for the committee obtaining the report, defense attorneys gave a copy to Garza’s lawyers on March 18, counsel for the City Attorney’s Office further state in their court papers. In his tentative ruling, the turnover does not remove the confidentiality status of the documents the plaintiff wants.
“Even though defendant has produced the Ellis report, this does not destroy the attorney-client privilege or work product protection as to the underlying documents connected to the investigation,” Kin wrote.
The Garza attorneys’ subpoena demands all documents related to the Ellis firm’s probe, including all of attorney Ellis’ notes and any reports she generated reflecting her findings.
Garza filed the lawsuit against the city in July 2020, alleging sex and gender harassment. According to Garza, from October 2013 until October of 2019, he was assigned to the LAPD’s police protection unit for the mayor. He says he was required to drive Garcetti to and from mayoral engagements and accompany him on out-of-town trips and that Jacobs often accompanied them.
Garza alleges that Jacobs subjected him on “hundreds of occasions to unwanted and unwelcome sexual comments and touching,” including tight hugs and shoulder rubbing.
Asked during his deposition if he ever hugged Garza, Jacobs replied, “It’s possible” and said he had the impression it was consensual.
Jacobs acknowledged that some of his handshakes with Garza could have resulted in his pulling the officer into an embrace as “sort of a bro hug.”
Jacobs denied making comments in Garza’s presence concerning the size of male private parts or that he ever motioned the officer to sit on his lap.