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System Worked, Lawyer Explains

November 09, 1989

I read with dismay the letter to the editor written by Suzanne Kelly-Johnson titled "Crash Witness Bemoans Verdict" (Times, Sept. 21). Ms. Johnson was upset that the jury found in favor of the Rastello family on their claim that the Torrance Police Department covered up the death of Kelly Rastello. Johnson states that the collision would not have occurred if Rastello had not been speeding and that everything in the police report was accurate.

Ms. Johnson misunderstands both our traffic and DUI laws. The collision would not have happened had Sgt. Green not been drinking and not made an illegal left-hand turn in front of Rastello. Johnson forgets that she smelled alcohol on Sgt. Green and when she reported this to the department an officer responded: "It's not against the law to drink and drive." The officer then failed to report Ms. Johnson's observation in the report.

Originally, Ms. Johnson reported that Rastello was traveling between 45-50 m.p.h. After meeting with the department's lawyers, she changed her testimony at trial to 60-80 m.p.h. Several jurors told me after the trial that they discounted her testimony and instead accepted the testimony of another witness that Kelly Rastello was going about 45 m.p.h. That does not mean the judicial system has run "afoul." It means it is working as it should.

BROWNE GREENE

counsel for Rastello family

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