Judge Says She Was Misled by Notorious B.I.G. Kin

By Andrew Blankstein
Times Staff Writer

A federal judge who declared a mistrial and ordered Los Angeles to pay $1.1 million to the family of dead rap star Notorious B.I.G. said Tuesday that she had been deceived about evidence in the family's wrongful-death lawsuit.

U.S. District Judge Florence-Marie Cooper ordered a lawyer for the family, Perry R. Sanders Jr., to explain a document that appears to undercut a key claim he made in the trial last year on behalf of relatives of the rapper, born Christopher Wallace.

Cooper declared a mistrial last summer in the family's lawsuit after finding a Los Angeles police detective had hidden statements linking the killing to LAPD Officers David A. Mack and Rafael Perez, a central figure in the Rampart scandal. In January she had ordered payment of attorney fees and costs as sanctions for withholding evidence.

But on Tuesday, Cooper said she had been deceived; the city now says that Sanders had information on the alleged conspiracy long before trial.

The city presented the judge with a four-page investigative report prepared in November 2002 by a private investigator working for Wallace's family. The report details an interview with a prison informant that the family said it had not seen, Vincent Marella, a private lawyer representing the city, said in an interview.

"This shows beyond any question that everything they said they never had, they had," Marella said.

A spokesman for City Atty. Rocky Delgadillo declined to comment and would not release a copy of the document.

Sanders said in an interview 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% accessible [to police], not in an attempt to file a lawsuit, but in an attempt to solve a murder," Sanders said.

Wallace was shot dead in 1997 near the Petersen Automotive Museum. The killing remains unsolved. Sanders represented Wallace's mother, sister and widow.

* Times staff writer John Spano contributed to this report.

From the Los Angeles Times