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Arguments over documents
June 3, 2011 - Jessica Collier
OK, that last one did not work very well, so I'll stick with the linking one I did first.
Caffry just finished his cross-examination of Jim Martin and Terry Elsemore after what felt like days, or maybe even weeks, of questioning. (It was really only most of yesterday and about an hour today.) They're taking a 10 minute break and then giving all the other parties a go at cross-examining them.
There was a bit of a discussion today about how documents will be handled throughout the rest of the proceeding. Yesterday, Caffry handed out documents showing that Tom Lawson had been served a notice of an $88,000 federal tax lien for unpaid income tax, which O'Connell rejected from putting into the record because he said it was irrelevant. Caffry argued that a federal tax lien would affect Lawson's credit-worthiness, but O'Connell stuck with his decision.
Caffry also offered a packet showing the tax records for all the properties in the project, plus all of Lawson's personal properties. Caffry and Ulasewicz agreed to a stipulation that would acknowledge the fact that they owe taxes (about $38,000 to Franklin County at the moment, according to county Treasurer Bryon Varin yesterday. They've paid $113,836.59 to date.) but that would mean that Lawson's personal property information would be removed from the document.
Ulasewicz was pretty upset about the whole thing and said he was offended and whatnot when the information was offered. (Lawson seemed to be pretty offended, and so did some other people. I got a letter from ARISE Chairman Jim LaValley last night asking me not to publish anything about the tax stuff until tomorrow.)
Judge O'Connell ordered that the documents be returned to him. Today Ulasewicz made a motion, in light of what happened yesterday, that O'Connell rule on documents before they are distributed to the parties and other attendees of the hearing (including the press). Judge O'Connell rejected the motion, saying that the procedures allow for people to make motions to bar documents.
Personally, I think that since those specific documents are public records, they shouldn't have been taken away from people. But as a reporter, my bias is always towards more information being made available to people. In other cases, I could see why it might be reasonable to guard information that people might try to put out.
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