Quick Hits – August 16, 2019

It appears as if Friday is becoming our tie-up-loose-ends day, so let’s continue with that reasonable motif!

 

Pro se plaintiffs get no love!

It has come to my attention that more than one you bleeps refuse to believe that I’m doing my own legal work. Why, some scurrilous cads even went as far as accusing me of having a legal ghost writer.

Silly people! Attorneys don’t do shit for free!

It may be true that most of my friends are attorneys and I frequently rely on their sage counsel, but from the FOIA appeal letter right on down to my recent motion in that lawsuit against the Kane County State’s Attorney, I am the sole author of every one of those documents.

Courtroom KC

Did I discuss my proposed appeal to overturn the KCSAO FOIA denial of 255 pages of sexual harassment complaints against just one former prosecutor with attorney Jeff Meyer? Of course I did! I do the same thing with the occasional column contention, too. Did the same Mr. Meyer add one paragraph to that three-page argument? Yes, he did!

Since I only play an attorney on TV, it’s nice to have someone who’s fluent in citing precedent. If you re-read that Attorney General appeal letter, I’d be willing to bet that you could pick out that single paragraph as our writing styles are materially different.

But the rest is all Jeff Ward, as is the complaint itself.

Once provided with a FOIA denial lawsuit template, it wasn’t very difficult to adapt it to my purposes. Sure! It took about a day and a half to get a handle on the build-a-foundation and step-by-step legal writing style, but it certainly ain’t rocket science.

Have you seen most Kane County attorneys work?

And the cool thing is, whether it’s a complaint, a motion, or any other court contention, they all follow an identical format.

Once the complaint was complete, a paralegal friend found a few typos and an attorney made two small additions/corrections. So, now I know that “supra” is the lawyer equivalent of “ditto.” I guess that’s what they go to law school for.

The motion to move things along proved to be a little more challenging because there was no specific example out there. But with Mr. Meyer kindly providing a five-sentence outline of the appropriate line of legal logic, that took a mere 30 minutes.

But the best argument in defense of my new-found jurisprudential capacities is that, with one notable exception, I’ve never met an attorney who can write, but I can! Oh! They can put words on paper, but owning a pen certainly doesn’t make you a writer.

I’d further stipulate that, aside from the vast pay disparity, the opinion columnist’s and attorney’s job descriptions are virtually the same. Through an argument built on a solid evidentiary foundation, we do our damndest to persuade our target audience to embrace our point of view.

With me, it’s the rabble, while an attorney has to convince a judge or jury.

Lastly, when it’s time to make our case before Kendall County Judge Melissa Barnhart, I’ll be the one standing at the plaintiff’s podium. And that argument is just about ready to go.

Though it’s somewhat infuriating, in the end, it’s quite a compliment that so many Kane County attorneys refuse to believe that I could produce those documents. Who needs law school?

 

The Sheriff and I settled!

Now that I’m down to one lawsuit, I’m not quite sure what I’m gonna do with myself!

Though we were already close, what spurred Kane County Sheriff Ron Hain and I to come to terms through a series of texts (who needs attorneys?) was Chief Judge Susan Clancy-Boles’ propensity to move any case involving yours truly out of Kane County.

Even if that weren’t the case, the 16th Circuit wasn’t about to hear a lawsuit between a journalist and a sitting Sheriff. Neither Ron nor I were looking forward to traveling to Kendall, DeKalb or DuPage County for the plethora of appearances a civil case demands, either.

But the point I really want to make is, throughout the negotiation process, not only were Ron and I civil, but we remained and still are very good friends. In the grand scheme of things, a dispute over campaign management fees is nothing to get completely bent out of shape about. We simply followed the general rules for resolving a financial disagreement and it worked out exactly as it should have.

I told Ron I only wanted to nail him when he deserved it, and given past history, I’m convinced he’ll provide me with me with plenty of opportunities to do so. And he agreed! In fact, if attorney Jeff Meyer could type opposing counsel’s email address correctly, this issue would’ve been resolved a couple of weeks ago. Goddam attorneys!

All kidding aside, I want to thank Mr. Meyer for so deftly handling this issue, Tim McLean of Clingen, Callow and McLean for understanding this wasn’t an MMA cage match, and Shaw Media for their even-handed coverage of the story.

As my crazy mother used to say, “Onward and upward!”

 

6 thoughts on “Quick Hits – August 16, 2019

  1. So where are you at with the FOIA part that the state’s attorney needs to provide un-redacted?

  2. John,

    At the hearing with Judge Barnhart in Kane County courtroom 110 at 1 p .m. on August 26, here’s what will likely happen:

    1. I ask to amend my complaint to include Exhibit 4 which I omitted from the original pleading. Some pro se attorney, right?

    2. I withdraw my motion to move things along because Pat Kinnally already responded to the lawsuit.

    3. Mr. Kinnally makes his motion for the judge to review the harassment complaints in question, and since I have no objection, that will move forward. I want our female judge to read those complaints.

    4. I will tell the judge that, since Mr. Kinnally added no new argument to his answer to the lawsuit, my original complaint will stand – there’s no need for further rebuttal.

    5. I will tell the judge that since I have no intention of deposing anyone and this case is simply a matter of law, let’s set a date for the hearing (trial).

    Unless opposing council objects or has other thoughts, she will set that date in Kendall County (Yorkville) and then it’s on to final arguments.

    Jeff

  3. Why not ask for a judgement on the pleading also. Maybe she would grant and no need for hearing.
    Are there any facts in dispute? If not no need for a hearing

    For your Monday column: you see the National Republican organization name Oberweise to its young gun list for support for Congress. Young Gun. Hell he is older than me and 90 per cent of people in the district

    • Jim,

      What your essentially saying is to ask for a directed verdict and one can’t do that until the other side has made their case.

      But this is a strange case in that, though I’m the plaintiff, the burden of proof is on the respondent to prove that the documents are subject to a statutory FOIA exemption by “clear and convincing” evidence. And that’s a very high standard.

      So, even though I put on my case first, the burden of proof is on the other side.

      What I could do, and Jeff Meyer and I discussed it, is walk into the hearing (trial) and simply say, “Your Honor, the defendant has the burden of proof and I don’t believe he can meet this standard. So, I’m just gonna sit down, shut up, and let him talk.”

      But that would be absolutely no fun, would it?

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