David Llanes is a police officer with the Pasadena Police Department. The department terminated Llanes after he was accused of willfully mistreating a prisoner. The department claimed Llanes encouraged the prisoner to fight and even wagered with the prisoner regarding the outcome of a fight with Llanes’ trainee; Llanes was also accused of making inappropriate comments to the prisoner and of placing himself and his trainee at unnecessary risk by removing the prisoner’s handcuffs at one point.
Llanes appealed his termination to arbitration. A primary issue in the case at the time of hearing was the dominate presence of hearsay evidence relied upon by the Department, a due process challenge raised on behalf of Llanes since neither the prisoner nor the trainee was present to testify.
As noted by Arbitrator Richard C. Anthony: “The department herein has the right, nay, the obligation, to consider all the documentation developed during the internal affairs investigation and reach its conclusions based thereon. But once the hearing stage is reached, it becomes incumbent upon the department to carry its burden of proof by a preponderance of evidence that withstands a due process challenge.”
The arbitrator analyzed the problematic aspects of the chief’s reliance upon witness statements that were not made under oath and yet were being used to terminate Llanes’ nine-year employment with Pasadena P.D. He noted,
“There are numerous reasons why out-of-court statements of non-testifying witnesses are suspect. There may be serious problems with perceptions of the absent [witnesses]. . . . Did they actually observe what is alleged at the hearing? How good was their recollection when they spoke to the testifying witness? . . . . The truth of the out-of-court statements depends on whether the [witnesses], who are not testifying at the hearing, had any reason to lie about the grievant.
“The [witnesses’] statements were not made under oath before a trier of fact, nor are they available for cross-examination to test for the presence of the problems illustrated above: perception, memory, veracity, and communication. . . . Reliance on the [witnesses’ statements] would deprive the defendant-grievant of the chance to test whether the [witnesses] were lying, misremembering, or just reporting ineptly. This lack of opportunity for cross-examination is the primary justification for the exclusion of hearsay [or, in the alternative, giving hearsay which is admitted into evidence little weight.]” (Evidence in Arbitration, pp.134-135, Marvin F. Hill, Jr., Anthony V. Sinicropi, 2d Edition 1987.)
Coupled with the foregoing analysis, the arbitrator commented that: “Llanes has been a truly outstanding officer for the Pasadena Police Department for nearly nine years with what can fairly be described as superlative performance evaluations describing his past accomplishments, his expertise, knowledge of the job, substantial abilities, his great potential, and perhaps most important of all, his love for the job.” Moreover, Llanes had been a highly revered training officer for the past six years and the arbitrator found no evidence that any other trainee had complained about Llanes.
The suspect, on the other hand, was “intoxicated and furious at being arrested in front of his own home.” The suspect had also expressed his belief that the department had some responsibility for the death of a friend of his who apparently died in police custody.
The arbitrator found that Llanes’ trainee (who had made statements against Llanes) was “a total failure as a police officer in the eyes of every one of his six field training officers (FTOs), and finally in his own eyes as well. One of his major deficiencies, as noted by every one of his FTOs, was his inability to properly and accurately write up reports to relate what had occurred in various incidents, and in addition, his serious lack of field acumen.”
The arbitrator concluded that: “From the outset of this encounter, Llanes demonstrated his ability to manifest a command presence in order to gain total compliance from the prisoner without so much as touching him. After [the trainee] failed to recognize a can of beer as a threat in the prisoner’s hands and then when Llanes pointed this out to him, and [the trainee] was unable to get it from him, Llanes ordered the prisoner to put it down on the sidewalk and the prisoner immediately complied.
“. . . The fact is that [the prisoner] was confronted and arrested and placed in the police car without any force being used, no fight occurred between anyone, no force was ever used, no injuries ever occurred, and [the prisoner] was booked and jailed. Llanes’ command presence had to be the major factor in achieving those results, and he was no doubt endeavoring to communicate that lesson to [his trainee].”
Citing numerous inconsistencies in the prior non-sworn statements of witnesses who never testified at the hearing, the arbitrator ruled that the first three allegations against Llanes could not be sustained. The initial criticism of Llanes referenced his command to the prisoner to: “Get in the f___ing car or I’m going to put you in there” after the trainee’s timid requests were met by the prisoner’s direction to the trainee to “f___ off.” “All citizens, no matter what their condition, are entitled to consideration and respect, but at some point, in order to accomplish a legitimate purpose, an officer is entitled to communicate on a basis the suspect is expected to understand. [The prisoner] understood and he got into the car without further comment.”
The arbitrator also concluded that it was clear from the “acceptable evidence” that Llanes had never entered into a wager with the prisoner, a concept which the prisoner had initiated. Further, that Llanes had said nothing to the prisoner or the trainee that could be considered encouragement to engage in a fight.
As to the allegation that Llanes had improperly removed the handcuffs of the prisoner, the arbitrator found there was no department policy prohibiting the removal, but noted that the prisoner should have remained handcuffed given his intoxication and lack of cooperation while his property was taken, and his previous comments about fighting.
The department took the position that discharge was the only appropriate penalty in this case. The arbitrator disagreed, observing that to permanently remove Llanes from his career as a police officer with the department for this one error was not fair or just and did not warrant the ultimate sanction of terminating Llanes. After reviewing the department’s discipline actions over the past five years, the arbitrator concluded that only a 19-hour suspension was justified.
PORAC Legal Defense Administrator Ed Fishman Testimony: Law Enforcement Use of Body Cameras.
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- Christopher Connally Assn of LEA
To whom it may concern: Let me start by saying how much I appreciate the opportunity to join the PORAC Legal Defense Fund. This is a great benefit for our membership. During the past twelve months I was fortunate to have access to the Legal Defense Fund through MPCA. Earlier this year I was both surprise, and disappointed, when realized that I needed to provide counsel to mediate pending litigation. In accessing the Legal Defense Fund I found your staff to be very professional and reassuring. The staff felt that [my representative]., would be the best ft for the situation. I would like to take the opportunity to express my appreciation for being represented by [Rick Barry]. Not only was he a good fit for the circumstances, at times it seemed as if he was the only attorney out of several involved that really had a grasp on the issues. Again, I would like to thank the PORAC staff, and know that I could not have been better served than by what was provided by [my representative].
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The members of my Association are very pleased with the level of representation that PORAC has given to us. As the President I can not thank you all enough.
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Very satisfied with the LDF services provided. Thank you.
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[My representative] is the poster face representative of the greatest attorney (representative) that anyone could possibly ask for. She gets a 12 out of 10 star rating. Nobody works harder.
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My representative was very helpful and informative.
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[My Represenative] is an excellent attorney. He is very professional yet personable and I would definitely use him again. Thank you!
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This was my first need for LDF support and I was very happy with the level of service. Thank you.
- Linda Mendez Imperial Co Prob and Corr
I'm very pleased with the services offered by the LDF. I feel so fortunate to enjoy the benefits of having the membership. The services provided by LDF to its members is simply 110% professional, supportive, great!! LDF care for its members is reflected by the quality of Best Law Firm offered, simply the best!
- Carlos Gonzalez Oakland POA
Very well informed group.
- Kerry Carlson Midpeninsula Ranger POA
I have held leadership positions in our POA most of my career. Because of my role as President and Vice President I have been a target to management. I feel that if it were not for LDF I wouldn't have a job
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The charges against me, if sustained, would have likely ended my LE career. I was rightfully exonerated on all charges. I was well represented by [My Representative] and thank him for a job well done!!
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- William Jackson Santa Maria POA
Keep up the great work.
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Keep up the good work.
- Adam Laird Eureka POA
Dear PORAC Legal Defense Fund, This email has been weighing on my heart and should have been sent a long time ago. However, time seems to move fast even though your life has been put on hold. I have been on administrative leave since December of 2012. In April of 2013, I was arrested for the performance of my duties. Since the administrative side this case has not been resolved, I won't be getting into specific details regarding my case. However, I will say that I never thought that my life would turned upside down by doing the job that I love, and doing it in a way that I had been trained. I have been in Law Enforcement for 10 years, and I have been paying my monthly dues all along. I never really understood how important paying dues might be for me, I just thought it was the "cost of business". After being arrested, I understood the real worth of that investment. Because of politics, my case was given the "full court press". On January 3rd of 2014, the case against me was dismissed. It took no less than 5 experts to convince the Humboldt County District Attorney's Office to request dismissal. The time, effort, and money that this case cost couldn't have been endured by me as the sole provider of a family of four. LDF was there, big time. The panel attorney's under LDF were the best in the business. In the uncertain time during the criminal process, I couldn't have imagined how much help they could be. What a relief to know that LDF had my back. I am used to defending those who can't defend themselves. That's my job. When I was defenseless, LDF and the attorneys assigned to my case were my advocates and defenders. I thank you. My criminal attorney said it best at the conclusion of my criminal case: "Adam and his family are thankful that they can now move forward. The evidence showing Sgt. Laird was innocent was overwhelming. The expert EPD hired said that the suspect was rising up when Sgt. Laird pushed him back to the ground. The two experts that the DA’s office hired said that the force was reasonable and appropriate. The defensive tactics instructor who trained Adam said he acted consistent with his training in apprehending a high risk suspect in a dangerous situation. In total, five separate police practices experts reviewed the case and unanimously said Sgt. Laird acted appropriately". "It is hard to imagine what it must be like to risk your life apprehending a known gang member only to be charged with using excessive force when the suspect stated that he did not even feel the contact at issue. It is simply bizarre that Sgt. Laird was ever charged with a crime". Thank you. My family and I will forever be grateful for your service, Sergeant Adam Laird
- Christopher M. Fuzie Modesto POA
I was very impressed with the speed at which the case was handled. Thank you!
- Robert Mickschl SAN DIEGO HARBOR P O A
From my initial call to LDF, to my "Thank You" email to (my attorney ) I had the best representation I could have hoped for. The "800" number call receptionists were very professional & understanding. (My Attorney's) office & staff kept me informed & updated. I am forever thankful to LDF & exceptional representation by ( my attorney ) & staff.
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I was very well represented by a professional. I felt well represented and got great advice.
- Albert Contreas Imperial Co. DSA
Thank you for your services.
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They were there when I needed them and my whole case was handled on the phone. I met my representative after my case closed and he was at our union meeting when I had the pleasure to meet him and thank him in person.
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[My representative] has represented me twice now and both times I have been very pleased with his thoroughness with handling my cases. I appreciate all what LDF and [my representative] have done for me.
- Emery Eccle Culver City POA
LDF is THE most important asset / resource that police officers have. "Thank you" to all involved and keep up the good work!
- Steven Moorehouse Redding POA
Thank you for your help.
- Katherine Comesana Mountain View POA
Hope to never in a situation again, however, glad to know that LDF is there to help.
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[My representative] was awesome! He provided an excellent explanation of the process and was very professional. This was my first IA in 11 years of LE and [my representative] did a great job of reassuring me that I had nothing to worry about. Thank you so much for all your help.
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26 years and I have never needed a LDF rep, but the one time you need one, it was worth the fee’s paid.”
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Outstanding [law firm] - incredible firm. And, LDF was easy to work and correspond with.
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[My representative] not only did he do a great job but he listened to my concerns. He did not force his views or game plan and we worked well w/ each other. We agreed on a goal and achieved it.
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Thank you for all of the work related to my officer involved shooting case.
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High quality service, proficient, well informed. Overall, very happy with experience.
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Excellent work and well worth it.
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Keep up the Good Work! Your service was extremely helpful to me. Thank you.
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I was very pleased with the service I received
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The LDF process was painless and I was able to get immediate representation in an urgent time of need. Thank you LDF
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Having an LDF attorney who is experienced, knowledgeable and professional is an outstanding quality. [My representative ]exhibit all of these qualities and more. They are outstanding and I would not entrust my career to anyone else!
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Outstanding service. Thanks.
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This attorney and her legal team were one of the best I’ve seen and interacted with. I was always in the loop and constantly updated on the case status. I would use (my attorney) again if the need came and recommend her to anyone.
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Very satisfied with the service I was given.
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My LDF rep kept me well informed concerning the progress of my case. I was extremely satisfied with the service I received. Thanks.
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My rep was great.
- Gilbert Salazar Montebello POA
Can’t say enough. Both representatives that I had in 2016 were excellent. ( My attorney ) made himself available to me in late night hours, which made me feel comfortable and at ease. This program is essential to us in law enforcement.
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I was very pleased with my representative.
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[My representative] always returned phone calls and let me know if he was contacted with information.
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Very Comforting to have a knowledgeable person looking out for my best inerests. Thx!
- Gary Silva East Bay Region Parks POA
Thank you for providing this service. My experience with LDF was very much to my satisfaction.
- Todd Costa Santa Clara Co DSA
This was my first Internal Affairs investigation, my lawyer walked me through every step and answered all of my questions, without my lawyer's advice, I would have been lost throughout the investigation and a complete disadvantage against my department.
- Rich Stepper Montana PPA
[ My representative ] was very knowledgeable regarding dept & legal rules regarding officer involved shooting. Provided good legal advice & was very supportive.
- Daniel Smock Ventura County PPOA
Everything went smooth. I think the current system works very well.
- Jason Walters Claremont POA
LDF was very informative and provided me with the direction on how to handle my case. I was very happy with LDF and their staff.
- Ernest Marugg San Diego Deputy DA Association
The LDF responded immediately upon my request for counsel. LDF provided the best representative I could receive! When I called LDF for advice, I was given advice again immediately. Thank you LDF for your concern.
- Christopher Delaney Upland POA
Your rep was very personal. Even though my case involved something minor, your rep made me [feel] my case was his most important. I am very satisfied with my LDF team.
- Tamboura Nettingham Claremont Custody Center EA
My representative was an outstanding rep. I was very fortunate to be represented by her and the firm should be very proud to have her in it. She's courteous, smart and aggressive when needed. I would not ask for anyone else, if any other situation evolved, she's the best. Thanks.
- Robert Hartman Contra Costa Co DSA
Quick response, experienced and knowledgeable attorney which assisted in every step. [My representative] kept me apprised through the process. Thank you.
- Alvaro Ancheta Glendora POA
I felt I was represented in a thorough and professional manner.
- Korey Lankow Assn Highway Patrol of Arizona
Outstanding service from bottom-to-top.
- Larry Fitch Shasta Co DSA
My LDF rep was great, always returned my calls quickly and kept me up to date with what was going on with the case. Thank you.
- Keith Braden Los Angeles School Police Mgmt Assn
Great work, no complaints.
- Tai Pena-Hornung Oakland POA
Those who foolishly feel LDF is not a valuable resource, do so only because they have not yet needed legal representation.
- Thomas E. Lorente III Bart POA
[My representative] did an excellent job! I would highly recommend him to any officer in need of LDF services.
- John Dougherty National City POA
My LDF Representative was [Representative]. He did an outanding job with my case and I am overjoyed with the results.
- Miguel Suarez Monterey Co DSA
[My representative] was very knowledgeable and courteous. He knew his stuff, and I couldn't have asked for a better guy to be on my side on this matter. Thanks.
- Steven Moorehouse Redding POA
You guys are Great! Very professional and well informed. THANK YOU!
- Kevin Hullquist Siskiyou Co. Correctional POA
[My representative] did a good job representing me. Kept me informed.
- James Hika Border Patrol Supervisors Association
They did a great job!
- Patrick Beggs Fresno Co DSA
Good service. Thank you.
- James Beckman Miracosta College POA
Highly recommend this program for any LEO!
- Brendan Dolan Milwaukee PA
Everything went very smooth and they handled everything! Thank you.
- Jeff Stanley Upland POA
Excellent program, no one should be without this coverage.
- Alfredo Hernandez El Centro POA
[My representative] was very attentive, [informative] and knowledgeable. He spoke very clearly and explained things in ways easy to understand. [He] made me feel like he truly cared about what was going on with this case and me. Not to mention [he] was funny and witty, traits which made him trustworthy and someone who would stand by me and other police officers.
- Dwayne Sue Oakland POA
[My representative was] great! She kept me informed and was very professional. She would be my choice if I should need her services in the future! (But I hope I won't) Thanks!
- Anthony Alonzo South Gate POA
Very pleased with the way the process was explained to me. Received updated info faster than I expected. Overall a good experience in a not so good situation. Thanks to LDF.
- Dan Lovelace Chandler LEA
Thank you for the funding and support. I would be in jail right now if it were not for LDF. I would not have had the funding to pay for the case. It was a tremendous help having [my representative] and his support team and the many experts supplied by LDF. I speak for myself, my family and other members of my association.
- Shaun Luciano LA School PA
LDF assisted by taking a stressful situation and calmed it down by thoroughly explaining the entire process. It was nice to know that I had an ally when I was sure that I was alone.
- Robin Gonzalez Yolo Co. DSA
[My representative was] very quick to respond, helpful and professional. Thank you!
- Micheal Chad Heiser Santa Rosa POA
LDF is a valuable resource that no law enforcement officer should be without.
- Nancy Page Aurora PA
I didn't end up needing his service but he was awesome in what conversations we had before the matter was resolved. Very valuable - LDF!
- German Alvarez Anaheim PA
[My representative ] was great!
- Christopher Wirth A F G E Border Patrol
LDF referred me to [ representative ] in Spokane, WA. [ Representative ] did an outstanding job representing me. Thank you very much for the referral ! I would not be employed any longer had it not been for [ representative ] and his legal team.”
- Robert Muelberg Denver PPA
I could not have had a better attorney. [My representative ] went way above and beyond his duties. I would not have had a better experience with my representative. I believe that the LDF is the single most important benefit a police officer could have!
- William Pryor Statewide University PA
Very helpful program. Helped keep department personnel focused on the issue regardless of their personal issues.
- Jonathan Smith San Diego D.A. Investigators
I couldn't be happier or more satisfied with my LDF Representative, the process and the outcome of my case.
- Byron Kies Santa Barbara Co DSA
Everything was great!
- Carl Miller Clearlake POA
- Robyn Delaney Mono County PSOA
[My Representative] truly is an exceptional attorney. He has always represented me with honesty and compassion. Well Done.
- Greg Harman Kensington POA
[My representative] is the best!!
- Jaime Kim Oakland POA
My rep did a good job. First we met and he explained that there might be culpability on my part but not nothing close to the allegations. I appreciated his honesty as we have all done things that can be taken out of context so it was important he told me to realize that.
- James Beckman Miracosta College POA
Excellent service everytime.
- David Baker Placerville POA
My experience through dealing with this matter was horrific. Without the efforts of the LDF and more specifically [my representative], I would most certainly have fallen victim to a corrupt and unethical administration. The LDF has saved my career and brought me justice.
- Erik Kusmerz Lyon Co SEA
Amazing job, Thank you.
- Diana Drummey Coronado POA
I so appreciated my LDF rep - his kindness and understanding re my case during an embarrassing and uncomfortable time - he was so caring.
- Tigran Topadzhikyan Glendale POA
[My representative] is an excellent attorney. I would use him again. He communicates with his clients and is very competent.
- Jason Kearsing Elk Grove POA
Very happy with LDF.
- Gregory Carbett Ontario POA
The attorney assigned to my case was GREAT! It's sad, but it's impossible to be an officer in today's world without a defense fund like PORAC LDF. I am now retired and signed up for the retired officers CCW LDF. Thanks!
- Paul Barrolaza Twin Cities POA
- Rick Stephens Alpine CO DSA
My representative was very good. I highly recommend my lawyer to anyone.
- Christine Farmer Tehama Co DSA
Mine was a fairly simple situation and I may not have needed representative. I am glad I called for help, it gave me peace of mind and reassurance.
- Paul Spencer Santa Paula POA
[My Representative] was great!
- Christopher Boyd Carlsbad POA
[My representative] was an outstanding attorney to work with. Even though I did not receive a desirable outcome entirely, I was exceptionally satisfied with his representation. Thank you.
- Scott King Ripon POA
[My representative] is the best LDF rep I have ever had. If I were to need an LDF rep again I would want it to be [my representative].
- Kelly K. Roe San Joaquin Co Corr Officers
[My representative] did a fantastic job at returning my phone calls and keeping me informed of any and all information pertaining to my case. I would recommend him to anyone.
- Joseph A. Henderson Merced POA
The firm I used was very valuable to my career and kept me updated as to status of the case. Thank you!
- Joe Charvez Santa Clara Co DSA
I could not be happier with the interest, work put into my case, and assistance from [my representative]. Thanks !!
- Patrick Davis Oakland POA
Very knowledgeable and thorough and would use the rep again.
- Brian Markert Lakewood Police Indp Guild
I feel that I was very well represented by the LDF regarding a fatal officer involved shooting. Both attorneys assigned to assist me - our guild attorney plus a criminal defense attorney - were very aggressive and helpful. Their work was instrumental in helping me to navigate the criminal and internal investigations so that I could return to full duty status.
- Kim Prout Upland Firefighters Assoc
It was great comfort to know somebody would be there for me in this matter. I was able to finally sleep @ night & wake up with confidence that I would be ok. Thanks.
- Chad Sakamoto National City POA
Although this incident was unfounded, it's still stressful. My LDF rep kept me informed and kept "work" at work.
- Andrew Hill Statewide University PA
I have used this law firm for union related business for the last several years. It was a no brainer to call them for LDF.
- Dennis W. Ostini Lake County DSA
[My Representative] was fantastic, knowledgeable, professional and easy to talk and work with. Even though the allegations lodged have not been resolved, [My Representative] continued to communicate with me, to offer his assistance.
- Robert Glock Oakland POA
I am always satisfied with LDF and all their representatives.
- Christopher Adams Modesto POA
Thank you for all your help!
- Miguel Masso Oakland POA
[I'm very satisfied and grateful] for LDF representing me. My attorney was professional, honest, and very knowledgeable of his profession. During these tough times my attorney would contact me on a regular basis to see how I was doing. This was obviously not part of his job description, but it kept me at ease and not losing my mind. I'm thankful that I was represented by LDF.
- Shandon Murphy San Mateo POA
Great work! Thank you so much!