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Larry David got ME $320,000! Thanks, Larry David!
March 8, 2007 1:37 PM   Subscribe

Juan Catalan, 28, was arrested in the May 2003 murder of Martha Puebla, 16, outside her Sun Valley home, even though he told detectives that he was innocent and had been at a Dodgers game with his 6-year-old daughter at the time of the crime. Catalan's defense attorney, Todd Melnik, went through footage of crowd shots from the televised game between the Dodgers and the Atlanta Braves, but he did not find his client. Then he learned that Curb Your Enthusiasm had been shooting at the ballpark that day. Sure enough, there he was on the cutting room floor, eating a hotdog. Juan spent nearly five months in jail for a crime he did not commit — he filed a suit for police misconduct and today he was awarded $320,000. Catalan was not a fan of "Curb Your Enthusiasm" before his time in jail. "He is now," Casselman said. Well, duh.
posted by miss lynnster (33 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
$320,000? That's more than the settlement that Larry got for his housekeeper.
posted by felix betachat at 1:51 PM on March 8, 2007


“I tell people that I’ve now done one decent thing in my life, albeit inadvertently.”
posted by Bezbozhnik at 1:53 PM on March 8, 2007


$320,000 is pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty, prettay, prettay good.
posted by SBMike at 1:53 PM on March 8, 2007 [8 favorites]


cool

(see also a previous mention here)
posted by caddis at 2:15 PM on March 8, 2007


Whenever anyone is exonerated of a crime they were convicted of and released from prison, the prosecuting attorney(s) should have to do the remainder of that person's time. That may lead to prosecutors NOT going for convictions at the expense of the innocent.
posted by notreally at 2:15 PM on March 8, 2007


Unfortunately that Curb Your Enthusiasm footage also showed Mr Catalan stealing the wallet of the guy in front of him, so he'll still have to stand trial for theft under a thousand.
posted by Flashman at 2:21 PM on March 8, 2007


Just for the record, that's my favorite episode.
"This ain't motherfucking pussy on layaway!"
posted by Eddie Mars at 2:23 PM on March 8, 2007


notreally, that's a bad idea. granted, it sucks that people who are innocent get tossed in jail, but our system is built in a way to tolerate acquittals of the guilty rather than sentencing of the innocent (just look at the "beyond a reasonable doubt" standard). The whole system is adversarial, and for it to work, someone has to prosecute and someone has to defend. The same logic could be applied to throw in jail every defense attorney who has lost a case for an innocent client.
posted by craven_morhead at 2:32 PM on March 8, 2007


so the shark-jumping third season of "Curb" was good for something after all.
posted by drjimmy11 at 2:44 PM on March 8, 2007


Dayum, I hope he gives his lawyer a big chunk of that award. Nice work, Counselor.
posted by sidereal at 2:52 PM on March 8, 2007


Maybe this means we really should have cameras everywhere, to back up our alibis.
posted by onlyconnect at 2:55 PM on March 8, 2007


I wonder if they were there to pitch a new series?

Sort of a quasi-Hollywood/Baseball joke for you all to enjoy.
posted by hal9k at 3:12 PM on March 8, 2007


This is a great story. I remember hearing about it, but never knew how true it was. Thanks.
posted by Elmore at 3:15 PM on March 8, 2007


Dayum, I hope he gives his lawyer a big chunk of that award. Nice work, Counselor.

I imagine it was probably a Public Defender.
posted by delmoi at 3:49 PM on March 8, 2007


SBMike - Nicely done.
posted by davebush at 3:54 PM on March 8, 2007


Good for him.

Would also love to see the piece-of-human-garbage prosecutor fry for this as well.
posted by wfc123 at 4:13 PM on March 8, 2007


Whenever anyone is exonerated of a crime they were convicted of and released from prison, the prosecuting attorney(s) should have to do the remainder of that person's time. That may lead to prosecutors NOT going for convictions at the expense of the innocent.
I don't think I agree with this, as prosecutors often are using evidence supplied to them by law enforcement agencies so it seems a little unfair to me to punish them for doing their job.

However, I think there would be merit in a system where people in the CJ system who could be found to have knowingly (or at least with gross negligence) participated in a conviction that was - um - problematic should face some sort of sanctions, the least of which should be not be able to work in the justice system anymore.
posted by illovich at 4:36 PM on March 8, 2007


“But police still believed he was responsible, saying they had a witness who placed Catalan at the scene of the slaying...The LAPD said Puebla was shot outside her house by a suspect who witnesses described as "a medium build male Hispanic, 19-25 years of age, 5'8" to 5'10"."..."He had very short hair and a mustache and appeared to be a gang member”

Hispanic. Short hair, medium built male, with a mustache....yeah, what were the cops thinking? Plus the motive that the woman testified against his brother. And witnesses - yeah those prosecutors really railroaded this guy, huh?

Oh, I’m not saying the LAPD and some prosecutors are beyond malfeasance, but this particular case doesn’t seem as spectacularly idiotic as some others.

Nice “Curb” tie-in though.
posted by Smedleyman at 4:59 PM on March 8, 2007


That may lead to prosecutors NOT going for convictions at the expense of the innocent.

That may lead to lawyers not going to the DA's office at all. Who would want to be a prosecutor with those risks towering over them? Prosecuting attorneys sure aren't in it for the money and glamour.
posted by mendel at 5:02 PM on March 8, 2007


BTW, just read my post over. I wrote & edited it fast without re-reading it. Whoops. I mean, from first glance, who's "Casselman?" Ugh. No wonder I quit journalism school
posted by miss lynnster at 5:02 PM on March 8, 2007


I think the problem with imposing higher standards on government lawyers and law enforcement is probably the same problem you have if you try to enforce very high standards in low paying urban teaching jobs, you just fired the last 5 at all qualified people who were actually willing to show up for that job. So it is nice to say that we should impose high standards on prosecutors, but isn't it one of the lowest paying lawyery jobs that there is?
posted by SomeOneElse at 5:10 PM on March 8, 2007


...the piece-of-human-garbage prosecutor...

Do you know this person? Have you followed this case closely, read the transcripts?

if not, you're a complete dickhead for writing that.
posted by wilful at 5:33 PM on March 8, 2007


the piece-of-human-garbage prosecutor

I actually have to agree with this to some degree, since at lot of these lawyers are really politicians, angling for better positions with a higher conviction rate, regardless of the innocence of the defendant. Maybe a little time in the pokey will bring a little enlightenment to certain lawyers.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:49 PM on March 8, 2007


if not, you're a complete dickhead for writing that.

Remember we're talking about lawyers here. Piece-of-garbage-human is their nature!
posted by ageispolis at 6:10 PM on March 8, 2007


Right, so all prosecutors are by default to be considered venal politicians and pieces of garbage.

If that's so, thank god I don't live in the USA.
posted by wilful at 6:32 PM on March 8, 2007


I'd like to see Larry David somehow work this into the show, only I imagine that through some long chain of unlikely events set in motion by David, the guy would end up back in jail on an ever worse charge, and David would just kind of shrug and walk away.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 6:52 PM on March 8, 2007


This story is almost three years old.
posted by webcruncher at 9:12 PM on March 8, 2007


Good thing it was only a television show an not footage for a movie otherwise the MPAA would sue for far more than the $320k.

This case is another to add to the mountain of prejudice covered under by a greasy filmy sheet of "profiling."
posted by porpoise at 9:13 PM on March 8, 2007


Thanks for the tip webcruncher, but apparently you missed reading the part where it said HE WAS AWARDED $320,000 TODAY.

As in March 8, 2007.

Which is a lot more recent than three years ago.

Thanks for trying to put me in my place though. You sure taught me!
posted by miss lynnster at 9:34 PM on March 8, 2007 [2 favorites]


This story is almost three years old.

Good thing this isn't a news site.
posted by knave at 9:48 PM on March 8, 2007


Note that the guy wasn't actually convicted of the crime. He was being held until a judge ruled there was not enough evidence to continue with the trial.
And "...even though he told detectives that he was innocent and had been at a Dodgers game with his 6-year-old daughter at the time of the crime..." - are you seriously saying that people shouldn't be arrested as long as they claim to have been elsewhere?
posted by solotoro at 10:02 PM on March 8, 2007


The only thing I can definitely say for sure is that I wouldn't want to be sitting in jail for 5 months -- and be facing the death penalty -- for something I didn't do. He's lucky he got the lawyer he did because many defenders wouldn't have gone through such admirable effort.

If I may say so, defense attorney Todd Melnik kicks ass.

posted by miss lynnster at 10:14 PM on March 8, 2007


This story is almost three years old.
posted by webcruncher at 12:12 AM EST on March 9 [+][!]


When was he awarded $320,000?
posted by caddis at 7:05 AM on March 9, 2007


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