Court hearing scheduled Monday
ason Maki, a Parkville area resident, who is suing the city for its failure to release “public” documents,” recently requested that the city attorney, Williams & Campo, PC, be fined $500 per day for failing to obey a subpoena served in March.
Williams is represented by Baty Otto Coronado in the matter, which is the same law firm representing the City of Parkville in the lawsuit brought by Maki. It is unclear if Williams or the City of Parkville is paying for Williams’ legal fees in response to the subpoenas.
Maki, who is representing himself in the civil suit alleging open records violations by the City of Parkville, stated in a court filing earlier this week that the materials he has requested “will likely provide direct or circumstantial evidence that the city knowingly and purposefully violated Missouri’s Sunshine law.”
The court document states that the city is using an “advice of counsel defense” in which the city claims any violation of the Sunshine Law was done on the advice of city attorney Williams.
As a result, in March, Judge James Van Amburg ruled that the city had waived its attorney client privilege regarding Maki’s Sunshine requests and ordered the city to release all communications related to his Sunshine requests between the city and Williams to Maki.
Maki issued his subpoena in early March, shortly after the court’s ruling. According to documents filed with the court, the documents were due on March 23 with Maki agreeing to extend Williams’ deadline until April 9. Since then, Williams has produced some of the requested documents, including documents with unexplained redactions, however, the city continues to stall on providing the rest, according to Maki’s Friday, April 23 court filing.
Maki has asked the court to order Williams to “immediately produce the requested materials, and absent compliance with that order, fine Williams $500 per day for each day their production is incomplete.”
In other developments in the case, recent court filings were appearing on Missouri Casenet, an online court tracking system, just prior to The Landmark’s deadline. In one filing, Maki has subpoenaed members of a city-sanctioned Parkville Economic Development Council (EDC) for documents related to his Sunshine requests. The group’s website states the non-profit’s purpose is to promote economic and community development.
Several city officials, including Mayor Nan Johnston, City Administrator Joe Parente and aldermen Dave Rittman and Brian Whitley, are named in the original Sunshine lawsuit and also are members of the EDC executive committee. EDC board members also include local developer Brian Mertz.
In response to Maki’s subpoenas, the EDC’s attorney initially filed “a motion for protective order,” asking the court for “an extension of time to respond to plaintiff’s subpoenas with objections and production,” according to the court filing.
Documents in the filing indicate that the EDC failed to file any objections to Maki’s subpoenas in the time set aside by Missouri Law due to a miscommunication between both parties. The filing continues that Maki’s subpoena “is nothing more than a continuation of plaintiff’s efforts to harass, annoy, and run up needless costs.”
The court filing states that the EDC attorney requested a two-week extension to provide responses to subpoenas and explained that this was not a delay tactic, but was reasonable and would provide time for counsel to “meet, confer, and collect responsive documentation from eight clients.” But Maki initially rejected the request for an extension, the attorney states in his filing.
The document also states that “plaintiff has not taken any reasonable steps to avoid imposing an undue burden or expense on the non-parties named in plaintiff’s subpoenas.”
However, just prior to press time, court filings indicate that Maki and the EDC attorney, Tyler M. Waugh, reached a compromise with Maki granting an extension to the EDC.
Judge Van Amburg has scheduled a court date of Monday, May 3 at 1:30 p.m. to hear the most recent motions in the case.