Attorney Violates Judges Murtaugh’s
order to Turn Over Public Documents
Lawrence City Attorney Charles Boddy has turned over half of the public documents requested by the Valley Patriot back in February of this year (and refiled in July). The documents that the city did release had the amounts paid to the Law Firm of DiAdamo and DiAdamo blacked out. (See documents at bottom of page).
Last Thursday, Essex County Superior Court Judge Murtaugh ordered the City of Lawrence to turn over public documents sought by The Valley Patriot “forthwith, and that means immediately, sooner than immediately, I want these records produced,” Murtaugh ordered.
The city contracted an outside law firm (Foley and Hoag) to fight the release of the public records rather than having City Attorney Charles Boddy handle the matter. Boddy’s office is in Lawrence City Hall, next door the superior court building where the hearing was held.
“A cover letter from City Attorney Boddy (above) states “information within the city’s attorney client privilege was redacted.”
“This is a clear violation of the judges order,” Valley Patriot Attorney Allan Knowles of North Andover said today.
“What the Valley Patriot has asked for is exactly what the city blacked out. Payments made by a municipality to a law firm are absolutely considered public records. The city knows that. The judge knows it too. There is no attorney client privilege on the client, which is the City of Lawrence in this case, especially when the client is a public entity using taxpayers’ dollars.”
“What’s more, the City of Lawrence further violated the judges order by not turning over the school department records that The Valley Patriot requested and Judge Murtaugh ordered them to release. We will be back in court on Monday to see how The Honorable Judge Murtaugh reacts to being slapped in the face by Mayor Lantigua the way that Mr. Duggan and The Valley Patriot have been slapped in the face on this issue since February.”
The Valley Patriot requested public documents centering around Lawrence School Department Employees who are double dipping after retiring and taking consulting positions with State Receiver Jeff Riley in the Lawrence Public Schools.
Riley was appointed by Massachusetts Commissioner of Education Mitchell Chester to run the entire Lawrence School System and acts with full authority as the city’s superintendent and school committee.
Also at issue are payment records for the DiAdamo Law Office, Attorney Carmine DiAdamo, and Attorney William DiAdamo in their capacity as the city’s worker’s compensation attorney’s, as the landlords for the Lawrence School Department Administrative Offices on Essex Street, their work on the Greater Lawrence Sanitary District, The City’s workforce investment board and any other payments made to the DiAdamos by the City of Lawrence or any of their public-private agencies.
The Valley Patriot made an appeal to the Secretary of State’s Office in September. Secretary Galvin’s Keeper of Public Records, Attorney Shawn Williams ordered City Attorney Charles Boddy to turn over the records but Boddy refused.
“In a September 26, 2012 electronic mail, Mr. Duggan informed this office that the City had yet to provide records responsive to his request. In order to allow the office to clarify its position Michael Pagones, an attorney on my staff, called your office. Your office has yet to respond.”
Under the Massachusetts Public Records law (Chapter 66) all public entities must turn over public documents within ten days.
“The city has dragged it’s feet as long as they can and now they are playing games,” Duggan said in a written statement through his attorney on Saturday.
“I asked for the amounts of public payments to a law firm doing business with the public, the judge ordered them to turn over the information, and they give me payment sheets with the amounts blacked out. It really is incredible.”
“But now, Willie is playing games with a judge that has the authority to hold him in contempt and possibly put him in jail. So, while it does not surprise me that Mayor Lantigua is mocking a Superior Court Judge, I am certainly happy that now he is mocking someone who can legally do something about his complete lack of respect for the laws of this nation.”
Attorney fees are expected to cost at least $2,500, which Attorney Knowles says the taxpayers will have to reimburse to The Valley Patriot.
“We don’t expect our payment reimbursement will be turned over forthwith, though,” Attorney Knowles said. “Look how long it is taking them to produce a ten day public records request.”