Judge deletes electronic document in Gloversville city clerk suit

A federal judge, responding to a complaint from an attorney representing the city of Gloversville, h

A federal judge, responding to a complaint from an attorney representing the city of Gloversville, has stricken from the court record a copy of the $42,000 settlement proposal offered to fired city clerk Gary Margiotta.

U.S. District Court Judge George H. Lowe posted a ruling today on the court’s electronic public file, striking a copy of the settlement offer and notifying both sides he will conduct a hearing July 11 in Albany on this and other issues pending in Margiotta’s case.

It is apparent from the court’s online file that Gregg T. Johnson of the Albany firm of Girvin & Ferlazzo complained to Lowe on Monday after Margiotta’s attorney, Elmer Robert Keach III, made the city’s recent settlement offer public by posting it in the file.

Johnson’s complaint letter is not posted, but Keach’s response to the court, posted Monday, informed Judge Lowe that Margiotta “opposes removing his rejection [of the offer] from the public docket. Contrary to Mr. Johnson’s allegations, Mr. Margiotta’s rejection was filed on the court’s [online] system to definitively establish the dates on which the Rule 68 offer was made and rejected to protect the record,” Keach wrote.

Keach, who declined to elaborate today on his latest letter to Lowe, told the judge he felt compelled to place the settlement offer on the record because in a prior case involving the two lawyers, Johnson had formally challenged Keach on whether an offer was properly rejected.

Johnson has been trying to keep the pre-trial litigation out of the media. Toward that end, he obtained a temporary order from Lowe to stop Keach from releasing deposition testimony and other discovery material to the media.

Johnson said Tuesday he expects Lowe will decide July 11 what material should be in the public domain.

“All of us will have some clarity,” he said.

In a prior letter to Lowe, Johnson asked that Keach be sanctioned for allegedly violating that temporary “protective order.” He objected to Keach making public his complaint that city officials had allegedly destroyed emails. Johnson also objected to what he said was Keach’s implication that Mayor Tim Hughes’ laptop computer was not actually stolen, as Hughes reported.

Keach responded June 23 to the call for sanctions, asserting to Lowe “these claims are nonsense and further demonstrate the desperation of the defendants, and their counsel, to hide proceedings before this court from public scrutiny.

Keach said the temporary protective order governed discovery material being exchanged and argued to Lowe that such material was not released to the media from his office.

Margiotta, a 16-year employee, was suddenly fired Dec. 29, 2006, by a four-member majority on the Common Council. No public explanation has ever been provided, not even to the three-member council minority.

Categories: Schenectady County

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