The Crucifucks fought the law, and it looks like the law may have won this
round. Last Friday (April 4), a federal judge in Philadelphia awarded $2.2
million in a default judgment to a policeman and his union in a suit over the
use of a photo of Philly policeman James Whalen on the cover of the Crucifucks'
1992 compilation album Our Will Be Done.
The band, their label (San
Francisco-based Alternative Tentacles) and its owner, Jello Biafra (Eric R.
Boucher), had been sued more than a year ago by the Philadelphia Fraternal
Order of Police (FOP) over its unauthorized use of the photo, which showed
officer Whalen pretending to lie dead next to his cruiser. FOP press officer
Dale Wilcox told ATN the photo was used in a poster to raise public awareness
of a 1986 contract dispute between the city and the FOP and bore the legend,
"You wouldn't sacrifice your life for a million bucks. A Philadelphia police
officer does it for a lot less. They need your support."
In condemning the
label and the band, whose album contained what Wilcox called "anti-police
sentiment," police union head Richard Costello said, "I'm hoping for every last
dime these people have, up to the penny in their loafers if we can get it."
Wilcox said the FOP's $1.1 million share of the judgment money would be used to
provide scholarships for the children of slain officers through the Hero
A press release from Alternative Tentacles states: "We at
Alternative Tentacles Records are disappointed that the Federal Court has
entered a default judgment against Alternative Tentacles Records, Jello Biafra
and The Crucifucks."
The press release from the label, whose long-standing
motto is "Giving Art a Bad Name Since 1979," notes that the same Judge who
ruled against AT in this case dismissed the FOP claims as without merit in the
case of co-defendant Borders Books and Music last July.
The release also
clarifies that "a default judgment is not a judgment based on the merits of a
case. It is the result of a statutory procedure requiring proper notice to the
defendants before a default can be taken. The Fraternal Order of Police took
the default of Alternative Tentacles Records and Jello Biafra even though their
attorneys knowingly failed to properly serve the required notice of their
intention to take the default. This case has not gone to trial."
the release says that AT and Biafra have filed a motion in Federal Court
seeking to set aside the default judgment.
Wilcox explained that a default
judgment means the defendants failed to appear in court and added that "a court
order is a court order. The band and the label will be subject to collection
when the court decides."
Wilcox explained that the FOP took exception to
the "misappropriation" of Sergeant Whalen's image "in addition to making money
off of this image for themselves, and in the course of doing that, associating
police with songs like 'Cops For Fertilizer' and "Pigs in a Blanket,' which
advocated the murder of officers."