Ian Anderson 4 p.m., July 28
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Kessler v. City of San Diego: Hall's Report of Hearing Action
Matthew Hall reported on statements made in open court at the hearing where Judge John S. Meyer's tentative ruling against the City of San Diego was upheld. Hall's report of the courtroom action (July 9, 2010) came after plaintiff's attorney Joshua Gruenberg confirmed by email that Judge Meyer had refused to limit pending deposition questioning of the mayor of San Diego.
The City of San Diego was sued for wrongful termination (eviction from office) by Scott Kessler, a former city employee and now plaintiff with knowledge of transactions between local business improvement districts and at least one company allegedly led by a business improvement district official. The questionable contract arrangements had been investigated by FBI and San Diego Police Department investigators, but on forwarding information to the local District Attorney's office (DA), the matter died mysteriously and quietly. Kessler alleges that his subsequent wrongful termination was based on actions by Mayor Jerry Sanders, miffed at Kessler's cooperation with local and federal investigators.
The story on the Kessler firing and subsequent civil filing in Kessler v. City of San Diego was first reported by Don Bauder at the Reader several months ago.
See Don Bauder's City Lights article for background on the Kessler v. City of San Diego civil action. Other Scam Diego blog posts by Bauder on this topic are also available at this site by searching above.
NB: All previous links to referenced documents in this blog post have been deprecated without prior knowledge of the blogger.
According to Hall's report, Deputy City Attorney Travis Phelps stated in open court: “There's been a lot of unsupported theories that the mayor, for example, supposedly contacted the DA to shut down the prosecution.” Travis continued: “There's no evidence whatsoever to support those sort of theories... It seems like it could be just harassment on a public official.”
Judge Meyer was unpersuaded, failing to reverse his tentative ruling of July 8: “I don't want to make limitations [on the scope of the pending mayoral deposition] in a vacuum.” Judge Meyer reasoned, “This is a whistle-blower case, and I think the inquiry is going to be what, if any, involvement the mayor had in decisions affecting the Plaintiff.”
Judge Meyer left the door open for Phelps to make proper objections if Gruenberg's questioning was not relevant. At the same time, the order denying the City's motion for a mayoral protective order came with no deposition strings attached.
The City policy of having all information released to the public first passing through the mayor's office may be detrimental to any City defendant objections to deposition questions relating to bidding processes, contracts, and other issues that are reasonably related to Kessler's dismissal. The legal reason for Judge Meyer's tentative ruling against the City was that the mayor appeared to have relevant evidence that is not available from any other source. This is consistent with Phelp's statement that current theories of mayoral involvement are not supported by evidence, as the mayor has yet to be deposed under oath in this matter.