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Local jury moves to Santa Fe to deliberate

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Claimant awards could reach more than $200,000, including punitive damages

By Carol A. Clark

Jurors in the suit-counter suit court case held this week in the Community Building moved to Santa Fe this morning.

  The five man, one-woman jury began deliberating shortly before noon Thursday in the Ted Vives vs. Linda Hull lawsuit in which Hull filed a counter-suit.

Judge James Hall asked the jury at

4:45 p.m. if they were anywhere near a decision and they said they were not.

  Because of a 6 p.m. Municipal Building site selection committee meeting scheduled in council chambers where the District Court trial has been held since Monday, Hall instructed the jury to end their deliberation and reconvene tomorrow in First District Court in Santa Fe.

The reason the jury was asked to convene in Santa Fe is because Hall has a full day of hearings there in First District Court.

He assured jurors he will interrupt whatever he is doing if they have a question and also when they are ready to render their verdict.

Thursday’s court proceedings included final instructions by Hall to the jury and closing arguments by attorney Paul Mannick representing Vives and Paul Grace representing Hull.

  “This case is about false statements that Ms. Hull has made and the damage those statements have done to Mr. Vives’ standing in the community,” Mannick said. “Ms. Hull has spent $135,000 so that she can keep doing what she’s doing.”

 He was referring to the cost for Hull to defend herself through Thursday.

  Grace commended Hull and former school board members Morrie Pontgratz and Louie Janecky for getting the registered sex offender escort policy created and approved by the Los Alamos Board of Education, which prohibits Vives from coming and going on school campuses here as he had been doing.

      “It took the fox actually getting into the hen house for something to be done about it,” Grace said.

  “We don’t know if it’s going to be appealed so we want you to award $250 and hour plus tax for attorney time and $80 an hour for office assistance for an appeal,” Grace said.

  He also told the jury to award at least $25,000 for emotional distress. The judge told the attorneys on Wednesday after he dismissed the jury that because of the preponderance of evidence on Hull’s side, he was going to allow, for only the second time in his career, the claim of emotional distress. He also asked the jury to award Hull punitive damages to “punish this man for what he has done to this woman.”

  “Right now Vives has $500,000 in the bank, according to his testimony,” Grace said. “We’re asking 10 percent, $50,000 … if you’re thinking more … what’s it going to take to stop this him?”

  Follow the evidence, follow the footsteps, Grace told jurors as he displayed large white charts showing a chronology of the dates of each encounter between Hull and Vives followed by acts of vandalism, harassment or intimidation against Hull, which she attributes to Vives.

  Grace explained that there is no video of Vives doing all the things listed on the charts but that in the case of a private suit, the crime does not have to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. “We only need to prove things by the greater weight of the evidence …    

If the scales of justice tip ever so slightly in favor of Linda – then you have to rule for her,” Grace said.

If the jury does find in Hull’s favor, Grace told them they must award her “every dime” of the legal expenses she has incurred defending herself against Vives in order to send him a message to stop filing frivolous lawsuits.

  “If you don’t award Linda every dime – then this man wins.”