In the latest bizarre twist in the long-running lawsuit by the family of late rapper Notorious B.I.G. against the city of Los Angeles, the federal judge who declared a mistrial and ordered the city to pay $1.1 million to the rapper's family said Tuesday that she had been deceived about evidence in the wrongful-death lawsuit, according to the Los Angeles Times.
U.S. District Judge Florence-Marie Cooper ordered one of the family's lawyers, Perry R. Sanders Jr., to explain information in a document that appeared to undercut a key claim he made in the trial last year on behalf of relatives of the rapper, who was killed in an unsolved drive-by shooting in 1997 (see "Notorious B.I.G. Gunned Down In Los Angeles"). In the trial, Sanders had claimed that he had no information on an alleged police conspiracy behind the murder of the rapper outside the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles almost a decade ago.
Judge Cooper declared a mistrial last summer in the family's lawsuit after finding that a Los Angeles police detective had hidden statements linking the killing to LAPD Officers David A. Mack and Rafael Perez (see "Notorious B.I.G. Wrongful-Death Case Declared A Mistrial"). In January she had ordered payment of attorney fees and costs as sanctions for withholding evidence (see "Notorious B.I.G.'s Family Awarded $1.1 Million From City Of L.A.").
But, according to the Times, Cooper said Tuesday that she had been deceived by the family, and the city now says B.I.G. family attorney Sanders had information on the alleged conspiracy long before the trial. As evidence, the city gave Cooper a four-page report prepared in November 2002 by a private investigator working for Biggie's family. The report contains details of an interview with a prison informant that the family said it had not seen, according to Vincent Marella, a lawyer representing the city.
"This shows beyond any question that everything they said they never had, they had," Marella told the Times.
Sanders denied the claims, telling the paper that his firm was "not hiding anything from anybody," and that the document was one that he had given the city before trial. "We made our entire file 100 percent accessible [to police], not in an attempt to file a lawsuit, but in an attempt to solve a murder," Sanders said.