Sheriff Seeks Sanctions for Privacy Violations, While Violating Privacy Order or “Do As I Say, Not As I Do”
I have a new toy. It’s called Pacer.
It’s a portal to all Federal court filings. Eight cents a page to look and download documents. (Up to ten cents next year.)
The suit I am looking at today is Zane Seipler’s wrongful termination suit against Sheriff Keith Nygren.
On June 13, 2011, Nygren’s attorney James Sotos’ law associated Elizabeth Barton filed a motion titled,
“MOTION by Defendants County Of McHenry, Anton Cundiff, William Lutz, John Miller, Keith Nygren, Popovits, Sheriff of McHenry County, Kathleen Sieth for sanctions For Violation of Court Order,”
along with nine exhibits.
Nygren’s motion says Zane Seipler wrote on his blog:
“The Federal Magistrate made a ruling and decided that he would not hold Miller orNygren in contempt for violating the ‘CONFIDENTIAL’ protective order.1 This ruling didn’t surprise me because I had heard the Magistrate’s opinion regarding this‘CONFIDENTIAL’ protective order. As I understood it, he didn’t think it was necessary and that all the information regarding this case should be made public. So basically, there are no consequences for violating the ‘CONFIDENTIAL’ protective order.”
This was after Seipler filed for sanctions against Nygren, et al, for allegedly releasing Scott Milliman’s deposition to persons unknown who gave it to the Northwest Herald.
Last December, McHenry County Blog printed the transcript (links to all those stories here) of the hearing when Seipler attorney Blake Horowitz described what was in the deposition. Shortly after Sheriff’s Deputy Scott Milliman was put on administrative leave. Since then he has been let go.
March 8, 2011, Seipler’s request for sanctions was denied by Magistrate Michael Mahoney. He found that there was “no evidence of an intentional violation of a protective order or discovery order in this case.”
Zane Seipler, who ran against Sheriff Nygren in the 2010 Republican primary election, has written extensively on his now inactive blog, which he called “McHenry County Sheriff’s Office Exposed.”
An amended confidentiality agreement, dated August 10, 2010 is quoted:
The signatories will abide by the following terms and conditions: Specifically, with respect to the disciplinary file of any former or current employee of the McHenry County Sheriff’s Office (hereinafter “disciplinary file” or “disciplinary files”), the parties agree that such records shall be designated “Confidential” as described herein. The parties also agree that the disciplinary files shall be further designated “For Attorney and Parties’ Eyes Only,” and that these files and the information contained therein will not be disclosed to any person not a party to the instant matter or his orher attorney, with the exception of court reporters, any expert witness as designated in this Order, or the current or former employee who is the subject of said records for purposes of that employee’s deposition.
And, then, Nygren’s attorney points to a second blog, “The Real McHenry County Sheriff’s Office Exposed,” and claims,
On June 2 and 6,2011, the blog posted 38 documents that came from Defendants’ 2010 production and 13 documents that came from another one of Defendants’ productions.
An Exhibit G is referred to with the following note:
“The first 13 pages of Exhibit G reflect the blog as it appears online. However, the images as they appear are illegible. Therefore, for convenience, the remaining pages of Exhibit G are close-ups of the images that appear on the blog in “expanded view.”
McHenry County Blog has copied all but page 13 (production glitch on my end) of that exhibit and you can find it here.
The argument continues:
“Specifically, a side-by-side comparison revealed that the redactions Ms. Barton placed on the documents in Defendants’ productions were identical to the redactions that appeared on the documents the blog had posted. (See Exhibit H, filed under seal.) The only person to whom these documents were released was Mr. Horwitz.”
“On June 8, 2011, Mr.Horwitz informed Ms. Barton during a telephone conversation that neither he nor his client had released the documents,” the court filing continues.
“There is only one explanation for the release of these documents,” the motion continues. “The documents were produced by defense counsel’s office to only one person, Mr. Horwitz. Therefore, either Mr.Horwitz, someone from his office, or Plaintiff gave those documents to a third person in violation of the Amended Protective Order.”
Now the plot thickens. Sotos’ law firm “subpoenaed Google, the company that maintains the blog, for information related to the identity of the individual who posted the documents.”
This filing doesn’t say so, but I’ve read on Gus Philpott’s blog, Woodstock Advocate, that Google revealed that Seipler’s email address was used as a secondary contact point for “The Real McHenry County Sheriff’s Office Exposed.” Philpott, the Green Party candidate against Nygren in 2010, pointed out that he could put Nygren’s email address on his blog. In short, a secondary email address meant nothing.
So, what’s in Exhibit G?
It appears to be a lot of the top secret, hush, hush internal documents that the Sheriff doesn’t want made public.
The first one that can be read starts on page 15 of Exhibit G.
Let’s see what it’s all about.
If this is such secret information, why would Sheriff Nygren’s attorney put it in the public domain in a court document that anyone can access?
If you have the answer to that question, please put it in the comments below.