CLEARFIELD – On Thursday more details regarding the ongoing litigation between Clearfield Borough Council and outgoing Mayor Patty Gilliland were brought to light.
Clearfield Borough Operations Manager Leslie Stott said that she received a call from Borough Solicitor Kim Kesner regarding the case. She said that Kesner filed a motion for a protective order prohibiting discovery by the plaintiff or releasing the borough from the Dec. due date and directing that discovery be conducted only on specified terms and conditions.
Stott provided the press with a copy of the motion as well as a copy of a letter Gilliland’s attorney, Glenn J. Smith, sent to Kesner.
Kesner cites in his motion a number of items. First, he notes that on Nov. 2 Gilliland’s attorney served a set of 24 requests for production and a set of 30 interrogatories. Second, that on Nov. 3 Gilliland was defeated in the General Election for reelection as mayor. Third, that Kesner made several contacts to Smith since Nov. 3 and throughout November through Nov. 17. Kesner said as part of those requests he asked that the borough be released from their obligation to respond with the request for production and answer the interrogatories before Dec. 3.
Kesner cited that in a telephone conference with Smith on Nov. 17, Smith indicated to Kesner that he would advise of Gilliland’s position on the pending litigation and Kesner’s request within 24 hours. Kesner noted in his motion that at the time of filing the motion, he had not heard from Smith as to Gilliland’s position on the pending case or the discovery due date.
Kesner notes in the motion that the case is not scheduled for trial, that Mayor-elect Jim Schell, who will take office on Jan. 4, 2010, notified him on Nov. 18 that upon taking office he has no intent to pursue the litigation filed by Gilliland. The motion states that due to Gilliland’s defeat the discovery would be of no benefit and would cause the borough unreasonable burden or expense and should be prohibited.
Kesner’s motion asks that the borough be released from the Dec. 3 due date for both forms of discovery until Gilliland communicates her position on the pending litigation and/or it is determined that the litigation will go forward.
In a letter dated Nov. 19 Smith responded to Kesner. The letter states:
“My client seeks a certain level of compromise from the Borough as to what the Office of Mayor is entitled to under the Borough Code. While I understand that both sides can argue over the full extent of a mayor’s duties, the Code is quite clear that the office of the mayor is considered the chief law enforcement official in the Borough and in that respect ‘The mayor of the borough shall have full charge and control of the chief of police and the police force, and [s]he shall direct the time during, which, he place where and the manner in which, the chief of police and the police force shall perform their duties.’ As discussed at the Pre-Trial Conference, it is not and has not been our position that the mayor be permitted access to the secured sections of the police department, such as the evidence locker, case files or ammunitions depot. Rather, it has been our position that a mayor should not be prohibited from observing and interacting with the very individuals for whom she has been given a statutory duty to supervise and, in doing so, ensure that they property perform their department functions and responsibilities.”
The letter goes on to ask that the existing security policy be amended to permit the mayor access to the unsecured areas of the police department without supervision. Smith also asks that the chief of police cooperate with the office of the mayor to allow the mayor to carry out his/her primary duties. They also ask that the chief consult the office of the mayor, to the extent the mayor wishes to be involved, regarding administrative functions.
In his letter Smith also addresses the borough’s request involving discovery as well as fees.
“Lastly, significant legal fees have been incurred by Mayor Gilliland in this matter for the furtherance of the office of the mayor. Despite the parties’ emotions surrounding this action, it was not brought maliciously or in bad faith, as the Borough, in its responsive pleadings, readily recognize that the issues raised in this action were ripe for litigation due to prior court holdings. Accordingly, it is only fair and equitable that the Borough contributes, in part, to those fees incurred by the Mayor. As such, we ask that the Borough, in addition to the $2,500 permitted this year under law, contribute an additional $2,500.
“Assuming this is an acceptable proposal, I am agreeable to extending the Borough’s deadline to response to the outstanding discovery request.”
In response to that, Clearfield Borough Council voted to not pay the additional $2,500 and let the court decide the discovery issue.
Speaking on the borough’s own expenses in defending the case, council member Fred Wisor said, “I still think we should see if there’s some way we can get our money back. This is unfair to the taxpayers.”