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The glistening gold glasses stood as an affront to Detroit-area attorney Michael Fortner and his clients each time a police officer passed them in a courtroom hallway or took the stand with the specs. Tanya Simmons knew the $1,200 Cartier reading glasses were hers, allegedly stolen from the glove compartment of her Acura during a May 2000 drug raid at her family’s northwest Detroit home. The officer’s boldness in wearing the glasses in court — and the quick thinking of Fortner — wound up costing the city of Detroit $38,500. Detroit City Council members last week voted to settle a lawsuit brought against the officer and Detroit. Simmons v. Watts, No. 01-126132-NO. (Wayne Co., Mich., Cir. Ct.). On Jan. 5, 2001, Detroit police officer Vaughn Watts donned the glasses in the Wayne County Circuit Court building in Detroit — the same day cocaine-possession charges were dropped against Simmons’ husband, Terrell Simmons. Some slick courtroom maneuvering during that day’s pretrial hearing reunited Simmons and the designer glasses. Fortner asked Watts to take the stand and went over an inventory of items seized from the Simmons’ home. Watts didn’t mention the glasses. Fortner asked him if he had worn a pair of glasses into the courtroom. Watts said he did. A DEMAND FOR THE SPECS Fortner demanded Watts produce the glasses. Watts pulled them from a jacket pocket. Fortner produced a receipt bearing the serial number to the glasses and matched it with the Cartier glasses that Watts had on him. Watts, 34, was later prosecuted for perjury for claiming that a girlfriend who, Fortner said, doesn’t exist, gave him the glasses. Prosecutors never brought theft charges against him because there was no direct proof that he removed the glasses from Tanya Simmons’ car. Watts was convicted last fall and sentenced in November to two years’ probation. He was suspended and faces a departmental hearing regarding his job status on Feb. 13. “I think the case is unusual because the officer got caught,” said Fortner, a solo practitioner based in suburban Lathrup Village, Mich. Watts’ attorney, Donald Stolberg of Detroit’s Goldpaugh & Associates, maintains his client is innocent but declined to elaborate. “Nothing is ever exactly as it appears,” Stolberg said. Fortner, who brought suit with Detroit attorney Michael Cafferty of Michael Cafferty & Associates, said, “This settlement is small … but my clients wanted to put this behind [them].”

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