Parkinson responds

October 7, 2010

Ian Parkinson, the front runner in the November election for county Sheriff, defended his actions Thursday as an expert witness in a 2000 civil trial. [KSBY]

Parkinson has come under criticism after CalCoastNews reported that the San Luis Obispo police officer and accident reconstructionist failed to publicly reveal that the plaintiff in the case was a relative.

Rita Tavernetti, Parkinson’s sister-in-law, was awarded $1.4 million following the death of her father in an automobile accident in Monterey County. Parkinson’s testimony during the trial contradicted eyewitness accounts and a report by the CHP that both supported the other side.

A review of the trial transcripts by CalCoastNews indicates that neither Parkinson nor the plaintiff’s attorney, James Murphy of Arroyo Grande, ever revealed the family connection to the judge or jury.

“I disclosed it to the attorney. The attorney says he disclosed it at least twice,” Parkinson said on Thursday, referring to Murphy.

The defendant’s attorney died a few years ago. Both his co-counsel and private investigator told CalCoastNews that they were never aware of the Parkinson-Tavernetti connection.

When asked by a reporter if Parkinson’s involvement in the case was ethical, the candidate responded by saying, “You keep going down to ethics and the challenge here is, when you disclose it, it’s very ethical.” Parkinson also insisted other accident experts testified on behalf of Tavernetti.

As reported by CalCoastNews earlier this week, Murphy used at least one other expert witness in the case. Steve Blewett, a mechanical engineering expert from San Jose, who is also an auto reconstructionist, testified before the jury about how the trailer disconnected from the truck in the accident that killed Tavernetti’s dad.

When contacted by CalCoastNews, Blewett said he would not testify for a family member or friend because of the appearance of impropriety and laughed when he learned Parkinson was related to the plaintiff.

Parkinson also claimed that his relationship to Tavernetti was “irrelevant” to his testimony because “the accident reconstructionist just says how the accident happened.”

In addition, Parkinson said that he had asked if he was required to have a city business license and had been told he did not need one.

Asked to comment Thursday afternoon, Parkinson’s opponent, retired police chief Joe Cortez said he would “let the voters decide” how important the allegations were.


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133 Comments

  1. criticalobserver says:

    Parkinson needs to take a college level class on professional ethics. He apparently does not understand the concept when he states “If I knew that 10 years later I would run for sheriff, would I do it diffrently? Yes, I would make sure it was on the record that we disclosed it.” How about just doing the right thing when no one is watching! Then you won’t have to try and worm your way out of situations. It is unfortunate that the lead defense attorney on the matter is deceased. No civil defense attorney would pass up the opportunity to expose a conflict involving an expert witness. Finally, where is the follow up by our highly paid city officials on Parkinson’s lack of a business license? Clearly with the deficits the city could use some of that money. How about it Chief Linden? Are you going to do your job and enforce the city laws?

    (5) 7 Total Votes - 6 up - 1 down
  2. accountnumber says:

    In today’s Tribune, Opinion page, “Parkinson dinged for testimony” the last paragraph asked why 10 years after the fact is this information being brought forward. My first thought was — Beacuse 10 years later Parkinson is running for Sheriff. Doesn’t seem to difficult to figure that out.

    (4) 6 Total Votes - 5 up - 1 down
  3. Seamus_Greybeard says:

    When Parkinson hid his relationship with the plaintiffs while acting as an expert witness he may or may not have done anything illegal but it was highly unethical. I find that Joe Cortez is the better candidate for the role of SLO County Sheriff.

    Parkinson needs to quit all his part-time gigs and focus on the full-time job of being a SLO PD Captain, and get the refresher course on ethics while he’s at it.

    Seamus

    (10) 16 Total Votes - 13 up - 3 down
  4. Dave says:

    Found this on Facebook by Amy Tavernetti:

    Join me in voting for Ian Parkinson for San Luis Obispo County SHERIFF on November 2nd. Ian Parkinson is the only candidate with the Vision, Integrity and Proven Leadership Skills needed to run your local Sheriffs Department.

    (-20) 28 Total Votes - 4 up - 24 down
    • Nancimeek says:

      Nothing surprises me Look what happened to us by Grigger jones and Judge Tageman and most recently in Hawaii

      Nothing surprises me anymore

      http://youtube.com/watch?v=d_PiKumEPVU

      Here is part two
      http://youtube.com/watch?v=vgVts2xiD5o

      WHO WAS THE JUDGE for Parksinson case you are referring to. Just curious

      (1) 1 Total Votes - 1 up - 0 down
    • knowtheFACTS says:

      Are you surprised? I would hope his own family would be supporting him. What was your intent for that posting?

      (1) 3 Total Votes - 2 up - 1 down
    • slorealitycheck says:

      Can you imagine what her statement would say if he was running for husband of the year? I am sorry, but if your own house isn’t in order you shouldn’t be trying to run another one. “Public” office is just that, Public, where you need to have all your ducks in a row and be an honest person to which Parkinson definitely does not fit the bill.

      BIG FAIL FOR PARKINSON from the beginning on the KSBY debate. While Mr. Cortez started off well mannered and directed his answer to the truth, Mr. Parkinson went for the juggler and attacked Mr. Cortez instead of addressing the issue at hand. BIG FAIL IAN! NO CLASS!

      (5) 9 Total Votes - 7 up - 2 down
  5. slowtime says:

    I have read nothing here on CCN about EITHER candidate’s positive attributes. All I see here is Parkinson bashing. I myself am sick of all of the one sided rhetoric that exists here. I am going elsewhere to find out which guy is better suited.

    Out…

    (-6) 48 Total Votes - 21 up - 27 down
    • bobfromsanluis says:

      Slowtime: If you want to read about the positive attributes of each candidate, all you need to do is look at the advertising each of them is doing. The function of the media is not to tell us what we want to hear or read, it is to tell us the facts about the stories. Both remaining candidates do have positives, that is why they are the remaining candidates; for the media to put on blinders and not report about negative attributes about either candidate does no one any good (except maybe those who have proclaimed who they are supporting, so now they chose not to report {Tribune, I’m talking about you}), and the service the media is supposed to do, is to be the watchdog on the actions of government and the individuals who are in government service (the “forth estate” function, which is why the freedom of the press is in the first amendment to the US Constitution). There is no such thing as a “perfect person”, someone who is free of negative issues (the only reported case ever was Jesus Christ, some have come close, such as Mother Teresa), so doesn’t it make sense to be able to decide who is to take a position of authority based on on how few negatives as well as their positives that that person has? When the campaign for Sheriff started, Ian Parkinson was viewed by quite a few as the “golden boy” because he was such an attractive package (and I’m not talking about just his good looks); now the the package has been unwrapped a little we get to see that there is much about him that is not attractive, and by comparison Joe Cortez looks more and more like the candidate who can deliver what a majority of the voters want in a new Sheriff; going in with fresh eyes that are open to see what is really going on in the department, not being connected to existing personal in such a way that he might feel like he cannot take the best course of action, and with his proven ability to be frugal with taxpayer dollars, the ability for the citizens to get the best value for his service (hopefully no more settling out of court for millions of dollars). So go somewhere else if the negatives about this race bother you but don’t forget the comparison of the ostrich with his head buried in the sand; he may not see all the bad stuff around him, but he is danger of not seeing the important stuff as well.

      (14) 28 Total Votes - 21 up - 7 down
  6. Nancy says:

    What really bothers me is that when a seasoned Police Officer gets on the stand claiming to be an expert accident reconstructionist and tells a judge and jury that a man who was driving at 3X the legal DUI limit could not have possibly avoided an accident that killed him, the jury has a tendency to believe the officer. What cop would claim that a DUI driver who is very drunk is not at fault, unless the other party was more negligent and 99.99% responsible?
    Of course, if the jury knew that the officer was a family member that would change everything. That is why the relationship was never disclosed. Had the jury known, they would have been disgusted and never believed him.

    (22) 42 Total Votes - 32 up - 10 down
    • Realinvestigationreporting says:

      And Nancy, I know you would never admit to knowing there were other expert witnesses, totally seperate and unknown to Parkinson that testified, now would you? No, keep drinking the Koolaide!

      (-9) 23 Total Votes - 7 up - 16 down
    • Disgusted says:

      “What cop would claim that a DUI driver who is very drunk is not at fault”

      It would surprise me if the law wouldn’t attribute fault to the driver of the trailer that came loose. Drunk or not, it shouldn’t be the fault of the driver who couldn’t avoid the improperly attached trailer.

      (2) 6 Total Votes - 4 up - 2 down
      • Cindy says:

        I agree that the detached trailer is what caused the accident and they (owner of vehicle) certainly had some liability.
        The problem comes into play when there is a question to the degree of liability. In other words, could the other driver have avoided the collusion and did he contribute to the outcome and to what degree? In this case there was only one eyewitness and a CHP was on the scene within minutes. The CHP noted that there had been plenty of room for a driver to have cleared the trailer ( on the right). He noted some skid marks that indicated the driver had been going approximately 35mph. The the eyewitness confirmed where the accident occurred, said he had been driving about 35 and attempted to pass on the right which caused him to utilize the shoulder. The shoulder was wide enough for a vehicle to have cleared that trailer according the the CHP investigator and the eyewitness. So why didn’t he clear it? Well toxicology test revealed that he had been driving with a BAC of 0.23!
        Then Parkinson comes along ten days later and determines that the skid marks are someone else’s and that the accident didn’t occur where the shoulder was wide despite the CHP having studied the scene within minutes after the occurrence! When the eyewitness concurs that the CHP did identify the correct area, Parkinson claims that she doesn’t really know what she saw!
        There was another expert who testified, he is a mechanical engineer and also an accident investigator but he only testified as to how the trailer (cause and effect) came unhitched from the pick up truck that was towing it.
        I believe that a jury would never have believed Parkinson if they knew he was related.
        Oh, I forgot that there was another witness. Tavernetti’s ex-boyfriend came forward a year after the accident and remembered that he had passed her father on the road that night and that the father had been going more like 55-60. Therefore validating Parkinson’s statement that he would not have had time to slow down enough to clear the trailer! The ex-boyfriend collected a $100,000 reward for remembering driving down the road that night! If the jury had known about Parkinson, the gig would have been up after that.
        What is so hard to understand here? I don’t know Parkinson or Cortez, I’ve briefly met each of them once for about 2 minutes. This is an easy one for me.

        (3) 11 Total Votes - 7 up - 4 down
        • slotired says:

          There is one additional factor not revealed in the story. When the first CHP officer arrived to investigate, he failed to locate the vehicle struck by the irrigation pipe trailer and left the scene. He was called back to the accident scene when someone called in hours later to report headlights shining through the water of a pond. That is where the deceased man was discovered. The CHP discredited itself by a poor investigation making it easy for the plaintiff to establish credibility from an expert witness, any expert witness. A thorough investigation would establish fault based on the facts and not on the blood alcohol level of either driver. Assuming that the drunk is always at fault would not be accurate in this case. Alcohol may have been a factor but the cause of the death was the trailer disconnecting from the truck which struck and killed a drunk driver. Drunk drivers are a huge problem but do not warrant the death penalty in most cases.

          (0) 2 Total Votes - 1 up - 1 down
          • Cindy says:

            slotired, the eyewitness stated that the car did not go off the road after it clipped the back of the trailer but continued on. The accident did not occur where the car eventually came to rest. The first responding CHP did investigate the scene but knowing (per the eyewitness) that the car had continued on had no reason to look in a ditch 1300 feet away as it was unknown that the driver had sustained injuries.
            Either the drunk driver had his car on cruise control or his foot stayed on the gas pedal after he was injured would be the obvious answer. After all do you believe that a trailer continued on down the street for 1300 feet sideways after the accident or do you believe that a motorized vehicle continued on another 1300 feet? Come ON?

            (-1) 1 Total Votes - 0 up - 1 down
            • slotired says:

              An impact resulting in death most often leaves a large quantity of evidecne at the scene including glass, paint chips and other debris. Based on ones experience, the CHP should recognize to some extent how serious the situation was and attempt to locate the impacted vehicle. He in fact failed to locate that vehicle which a passing motorist discovered a short time later. That is not an example of good police work. Come on yourself.

              (0) 0 Total Votes - 0 up - 0 down
  7. Mid_town says:

    It would be nice to see what the judge during the trial has to say today. Did he know about Parkinson’s relationship to the plaintiff? I wonder if he would have allowed this information to be withheld from the jury? There were a lot more reconstructionists that could have been called upon that were not related to the plaintiff.

    (20) 24 Total Votes - 22 up - 2 down
    • Cindy says:

      No doubt the judge would chastise you for even asking him if he would permit that sort of a non disclosure if he knew. That would be like asking him if he was handed an envelope under his robe.

      It would be easy enough to determine if Ian claimed his income from this charade because Murphy would have been required by IRS law to issue a 1099 to Parkinson in the year that he paid Parkinson for his services.

      Murphy, SHOW US THE 1099’s, please feel free to redact the names and SS#’s of all others included in the filing. Any IRS agents around? There are these two guy’s that are probably due for an audit.

      (14) 24 Total Votes - 19 up - 5 down
      • danika says:

        I agree. However, if Murphy didn’t write the fee off of his taxes and Ian didn’t get a 1099 because of this, there would likely be no written confirmation of payment made. Considering the secrecy of Parkinson’s relationship with the plaintiff, I doubt either cared about the legality of HAVING to have that 1099…
        Know what I mean, Vern?

        (12) 18 Total Votes - 15 up - 3 down
      • Realinvestigationreporting says:

        moderator says: focus comment more on the story less on other member opinions.

        (-7) 7 Total Votes - 0 up - 7 down
        • Cindy says:

          Hah, You had me going there for a second, actually a few seconds. I was thinking, now what?????????

          (0) 0 Total Votes - 0 up - 0 down
    • Realinvestigationreporting says:

      They were called Mid_town. Do you only read what you want to?

      (-6) 8 Total Votes - 1 up - 7 down

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