Ithaca, N.Y. — Last week, a federal jury decided that the city of Ithaca had wrongfully retaliated against former police Officer Christopher Miller.

Ithaca Is Bluegrass Jan. 23-25

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Now, attorneys in the case are turning to what, if anything, the city will be forced to give Miller in damages. Miller’s initial lawsuit called for $17 million, and in 2012 a jury awarded the former cop $2 million. (That decision was later thrown out by a judge.)

In a motion filed in federal court on Monday, Ithaca’s attorneys stress that neither the city nor its officers should pay for any alleged “distress” unrelated to Miller’s time as a cop.

“If you choose to award damages, the amount is within your discretion, based on your perception of the distress articulated by the plaintiff, but must be reasonable and must be based on your assessment of the evidence you have heard,” the memo from attorney Paul Wagner states.

“You may not award damages based on sympathy, speculation, or guesswork, nor may you award damages based on a desire to punish the defendants.”

Mayor Svante Myrick has said Ithaca will continue to fight the lawsuit. The long-running legal drama has been ongoing since 2010, when Miller first sued a group of high-ranking police officers, former Mayor Carolyn Peterson, the city and the Ithaca Police Department.

An estimate for how much the city has spent on legal costs was not immediately available. Neither Wagner nor AJ Bosman, Miller’s attorney, returned requests for comment on Tuesday.

In this week’s court filing, Wagner appears to try to preclude any rationale for awarding former Officer Miller damages.

“You cannot award him any damages, for emotional distress or otherwise, arising from his discharge, because the arbitrator found that the City acted appropriately in discharging him.”

“He would have been discharged anyway. For the same reason, you cannot award him damages based on the possibility that Mr. Miller will never work as a police officer again.”

Below is the full text of the recent filing from the city’s attorneys:

Miller docs


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Jeff Stein

Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.