Author Topic: Which case are you more likely to pay for public official's lawyer  (Read 1128 times)

JUSTDAVE

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 71
 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

It is an unusual combination of stories but they happened on the same day In one case its basicly one mans word against another, In the other its several public officials getting caught and its really only about just how do we interpret the law they broke. I don't agree with Lad Danials. On the other side of the coin hopefully the representitive caught selling oral sex has a basic sense of decentcy and doesn't ask us to pay for his lawyer but truthfully he might have a better case for it.


Jacksonville City Council members hire attorneys; public might pay the bills.


By BETH KORMANIK, The Times-Union



Jacksonville taxpayers may be forced to foot the bill for City Council members who hire private attorneys to deal with allegations of violating the state's open meetings law.








Should taxpayers have to pay for the private attorneys of City Council members who face possible investigation into whether they violated Florida's Government in the Sunshine Law? Please e-mail your thoughts to beth.kormanik@jacksonville.com with your name, neighborhood and a daytime phone number.


A grand jury meets today to decide whether to pursue an investigation into the council's practices. State Attorney Harry Shorstein told the council at a meeting last month that he would push for the inquiry because of the council's "culture of blatant disregard" for open meetings laws.
An investigation could result in indictments, a report of its findings or nothing at all.
A Times-Union report last month uncovered a deeply flawed system of public notification, dozens of meetings about public business held without public notice or written minutes and several that took place in private locations, a violation of the city's ethics code.
Violations could result in up to 60 days in jail or fines of up to $500.
The possibility of taxpayer reimbursement was outlined in a General Counsel's Office memo that reviewed previous cases of government officials who had their legal bills paid by the public.
Some council members already have hired private attorneys, Chief Deputy General Counsel Cindy Laquidara said. No one has requested reimbursement yet.
Laquidara said she is looking into whether the offer would apply to former council members involved in an investigation.
Documents show some attorneys conducted a conference call Friday about a possible grand jury inquiry. Past Florida Bar President Hank Coxe was listed as lead counsel for the call. The documents also list 13 other private attorneys who may be representing council members.
"Absolutely ridiculous," Tony Bates, president of the Concerned Taxpayers of Duval County, said about residents picking up the tab. He thinks council members knowingly violated the law and should have to pay their own legal expenses.
Bates said he wrote Shorstein to urge him to pursue an investigation to "restore faith in the legislative process and the judicial process."
Council President Daniel Davis said he is "seeking legal advice" and soon will retain an attorney. He expects all current and former council members involved in the issue to have their own attorneys.
Davis said he hasn't decided whether it's proper to ask taxpayers to shoulder the legal costs.
"The end result would probably dictate how it's paid for," he said.
Former Councilman Lad Daniels said he has hired an attorney and will seek reimbursement for his legal costs. He declined to elaborate but read a statement.
"During my eight years on the council, I followed and abided by all laws and procedures in spirit and in letter," he said. "That's what the state attorney will find."
Councilman Art Shad said he hired attorney John Dickinson but hasn't decided whether to seek reimbursement of fees.
"We were all advised to hire attorneys," he said.
The city's attorneys based the reimbursement decision on previous cases in which Florida officials were charged with crimes. In those cases and in numerous state attorney general opinions, the practice was to reimburse officials who face lawsuits related to their official duties. Deputy General Counsel Steve Rohan outlined the case law in a June 27 memo to General Counsel Rick Mullaney.
But the memo doesn't reference a 1994 state attorney general's opinion that officials aren't entitled to reimbursements simply for appearing before a grand jury.
Laquidara declined to comment on that opinion but said reimbursement requests would be considered individually.
"Once a claim comes in, we would look whether it would be proper to pay it," she said. "That way it's specific [to] the facts because there are so many possible scenarios."
The only instance in which the city definitely would not pay fees, according to Laquidara, would be if members are convicted of a crime.
But the Sunshine Law classifies some violations of the law as noncriminal and has other penalties that fall short of criminal convictions.
Most people found to have violated the law face fines. Only one person in Florida history has served time in jail under the Sunshine Law: former Florida Senate President W.D. Childers.
Laquidara said the city's in-house attorneys wouldn't represent council members because "we might have what appears to be a conflict." The General Counsel's Office advises council members on how to follow the Sunshine Law.
Still, she cited attorney-client privilege in denying a request to name the attorneys that council members have retained.
beth.kormanik@jacksonville.com (904) 359-4619

FEES QUESTION HAS VARIOUS ANSWERS
The Times-Union attempted to contact the 19 current and former City Council members who could be the subjects of a grand jury investigation. The council officially is on vacation this week, but here is what members had to say about whether they had retained a lawyer and if they plan to seek reimbursement for their legal costs.
-- Council President Daniel Davis said he is "seeking legal advice" and soon will retain an attorney. Davis said he hasn't decided whether it's proper to ask taxpayers to shoulder the legal costs.
-- Former Councilman Lad Daniels said he has hired an attorney and will seek reimbursement for his legal costs.
-- Councilman Art Shad said he hired attorney John Dickinson but hasn't decided whether to seek reimbursement of fees.
-- Councilman Richard Clark declined to comment.

The following 15 people did not return calls made over a two-day period:
Warren Alvarez, Elaine Brown, Sharon Copeland, Michael Corrigan, Reggie Fullwood, Ronnie Fussell, Art Graham, Kevin Hyde, Suzanne Jenkins, Glorious Johnson, Mia Jones, Pat Lockett-Felder, Lake Ray, Lynette Self and Gwen Yates.


ATTORNEYS OF CHOICE
Documents from the General Counsel's Office show the city has been in touch with at least 14 private attorneys about a possible grand jury investigation into the City Council's compliance with the state's open meetings laws. They are:
- Ron Austin
- David Barksdale
- Tom Bishop
- Hugh Cotney
- Hank Coxe
- John Dickinson
- Stephen Durant
- Michael Grogan
- George Meros
- Mitch Stone
- Ken Tomchin
- Tim Volpe
- David Wells
- Ken Wright

Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Story last updated at 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Rep. charged with offering undercover officer $20 for oral sex




The Associated Press


TITUSVILLE, Fla. - State Rep. Bob Allen was arrested Wednesday after offering to perform oral sex for $20 on an undercover male police officer, authorities said.




Veteran's Memorial Park was under surveillance when Allen, R-Merritt Island, was seen coming in and out of a restroom three times, Lt. Todd Hutchinson. Allen, 48, then approached an undercover officer and was arrested.
He has been charged with solicitation for prostitution, which has a maximum penalty of one year in jail. Brevard County jail officials said Allen posted a $500 bond.
An e-mail sent to Allen and telephone messages left by The Associated Press on his cell phone and at his office were not immediately returned. It was not known if he had an attorney.
While being transported to jail, Allen told WFTV Channel 9 that the situation was "a very big misunderstanding." Allen, a married father of one, was elected to the Florida House in 2000. He was chairman of the House Committee on Energy.

I think some might interpret me pairing these stories together as maybe I am a little angry about the ______
the_______ the complete ____________
I give up, I can't find words to describe this.
Dave Siebert
vice president Concerned taxpayers of Duval county
intolerent of deadbeat city council members who don't pay child support