(Ore)gone to Hell?

His body was riddled with police bullets. The case against the cops also may be riddled with holes.

Mithoff also plans to include other evidence that he believes is damning to the city's contention that it should not be held accountable for the officers' actions.

Former Houston police chief Sam Nuchia, now a justice on the state's First Court of Appeals, testified in December 1999 that he told gang task force supervisors that their officers were to "go out and use every legal means, to the line, into the gray area, up to the line, of arrest, search and seizure."

In other words, says Mithoff, the department encouraged the gang task force to push the outside of the envelope in making those searches and arrests.

The appeal also will use the deposition last January of Kim Ogg, the former mayoral liaison to the task force. She admitted under questioning by Mithoff that the task force suffered from a lack of training and written guidelines, and that she brought these shortcomings to the attention of the HPD command staff. Ogg says there was no response to her concerns by the time she left her post in September 1999.

Mithoff also plans to make the appellate court aware of the October 1999 deposition of HPD Captain Charles Bullock. For seven years he oversaw the police division that included the task force. Bullock admitted he could not recall any task force member ever seeking a warrant for any drug-related seizure.

Mithoff admits he has invested a considerable sum of his time and out-of-pocket expenses in the Oregon case, although he insists it is not close to the $700,000 figure that has been thrown about in legal circles. However, more than a few attorneys whom Mithoff has gone to war against over the years would like nothing better than to see him take a financial bath in the Oregon case. And while that may come to pass, Mithoff maintains that this case was never about the money.

"I took the case because I thought it was an important case," says Mithoff, "not that I thought I was going to get rich."

Make that richer.

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