Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Attorney Barnard Gets Clipped for $10K in Sanctions

Plaintiffs' counsel however vows to appeal

This morning's Standard-Examiner reports that Salt Lake City attorney Brian Barnard has been clipped with $10,000 in sanctions, for his role as counsel for several dozen plainiff's in last year's lawsuit, which challenged the performance of Mayor Matthew Godfrey, City Attorney Gary Williams and City Recorder Cindi Mansell under the provisions of Ogden City Code Section 1-8-1, et seq. This is in addition to the $15,000 in sanctions already imposed earlier by trial court judge Parley Baldwin against the individual plaintiffs.

With all due due respect to Judge Baldwin, we've always contended that his summary judgment of dismissal in this matter was premature and unwarranted, inasmuch as it deprived the plaintiffs in this matter their day in court. There existed substantive factual issues which were never resolved by the trial court, such as those listed by gentle reader Do What Is Right in a WCF comment on October 4, 2007:
Mayor Matthew Godfrey could settle the lawsuit in one day if he would turn over his financial records to the City Recorder to audit as the lawsuit requests.
The first financial statement he filed showed around $80,000.00 left from current donations of $100,000.00.
He failed to list $38,000.00 from his last campaign as being on hand or having been spent. He just can't ignore $38,000.00 although that is what he has done.
He also can't ignore the fact that R&O contributed $10,000.00 to his campaign instead of the $2,500.00 he lists as being received.
This is $45,000.00 more that he has to account for than he listed on his candidate's report the first time around.
For those of you into math, that is over 50% more than he listed on the first signed financial report he filed.
That figure does not include any funds collected by PEOPLE TO ELECT MAYOR MATTHEW GODFREY of an unknown amount which he filed no report on at all.
So how come people on this blog don't care about an accounting of funds which there will not be if the Littrell suit is dropped.
I say it needs to be heard out. Voters have a right to know the truth.
As we've said before, we believe the above inaccuracies and discrepancies on the part of mayoral candidate Godfrey ought to have triggered the production of records and documents sought by the plaintiffs in their lawsuit.

It's been our continuing belief that the plaintiffs would prevail on appeal, if they were willing to devote the necessary effort and resources to overturning Judge Baldwin's decision, notwithstanding the inadequacies of Attorney Barnard's pleadings. Hopefully the matter will be resolved more favorably, now that Attorney Barnard has had his own feet put to the fire.

And what say our gentle readers about this?

6 comments:

dan s. said...

There was plenty of fault on both sides in that lawsuit.

If what the plaintiffs really wanted was for Godfrey to turn over his financial records to the city recorder, then that's the remedy they should have asked for in the suit--not that he be removed from the ballot.

dan s. said...

Perhaps tangentially related: Today's New York Times has an interesting article on the psychology of hyprocisy.

RudiZink said...

"If what the plaintiffs really wanted was for Godfrey to turn over his financial records to the city recorder, then that's the remedy they should have asked for in the suit--not that he be removed from the ballot."

I essentially agree, Dan, and much of the blame, I think, lands in squarely in Attorney Bernard's lap.

Looking at the plaintiffs' original complaint, the production of documents was one of the the remedies mentioned in the body of the complaint (paragraphs 55 & 56).

Yet these remedies are not incorporated in the "prayer" of the complaint.

Bernard's pleading was sloppily drafted, for sure. Nevertheless it's the trial judge's proper role in considering a summary judgment motion to look at the complaint as a whole, and not resort to hyper-technical interpretation.

Rather than summarily disposing of the matter because of sloppy pleading, I contend it would have better served the interest of justice if the trial court had granted defendants' motion, allowing plaintiffs leave to amend.

In the big picture, the plaintiffs simply got "out-lawyered," in my opinion, which leave a bad taste in my mouth.

And Barnard is entirely correct about the "chilling effect" a decision such as this will impart to even well-pleaded future citizen litigation.

Dorothy Littrell said...

This suit was brought under the requirements required by the Ogden City Municipal Code.

There is no provision in Utah statutes to file re violations by candidates for City office except by the method that was taken.

The Ogden City Municipal Code needs to be revised so that certain paragraphs are more precisely defined.

There is also a very specific time period that must be followed. The suit must be filed before any election. A suit cannot be filed after an election.

danny said...

This is one of the reasons people are afraid even to speak up.

It seems clear that Parley Baldwin, the judge in the case, is a political hack who was merely hauling water for the larger Godfrey crony network, trying to intimidate the Littrell group who have been frequent critics of the messianic mayor.

But people should speak up. The risk we take, both as bloggers and speaking for ourselves IRL, is far less than the risks that others have taken for freedom.

JOHN SPENCER said...

And who is the "greater Godfrey crony network", Danny?

The 800# gorilla, that's who.

The usual sponsors of the authoritarian theocratic state in Utah.

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