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Goldsmith to argue against his own legal opinion

Last year’s Filner fracas has city attorney on slippery slope

Jan Goldsmith
Jan Goldsmith

City attorney Jan Goldsmith and his lawyers must turn over closed-session transcripts from last year's [public feud][1] with then-mayor Bob Filner to Superior Court judge Richard Strauss to determine what, if anything, will be released publicly.

Andrew Jones

Over one year has passed since a feud erupted between Goldsmith, his top attorneys, and Filner. The spat spilled over into closed-session meetings. In April of last year, former assistant city attorney Andrew Jones told reporters weeks after one run-in with Filner that the mayor had ordered him to the back of the room. He likened the experience to that of Rosa Parks’s famous bus ride.

One month later, Jones was sent back to represent the city attorney in closed session. Filner, frustrated by the Rosa Parks statement, accused Jones of leaking confidential information to the press. He ordered Jones out of the room. Jones refused and Filner then asked that a police officer remove the assistant city attorney. Three days transpired before Goldsmith's office released a redacted transcript from the meeting to reporters at 10News and the U-T.

Goldsmith's [decision][2] to release the confidential transcript was immediately questioned.

In addition to suspending future closed-session meetings, Goldsmith addressed those questions in a [July 1, 2013 memo][3].

"The mayor appears to be unaware that only communications related to the subject matter of the closed session are deemed confidential. Actions of personal abuse are not confidential by any stretch of the imagination."

The argument was made once again in a formal declaration from Andrew Jones sometime after the June 18 run-in — the declaration was not dated, nor was it signed by Jones.

In his statement, Jones alleged that Filner had verbally assaulted him and defended the decision to go to the press.

"Mayor Filner's previous demeaning demand that I 'go sit in the back of the room' was not a noticed issue for closed session discussion by council. There is nothing about that statement that is protected or confidential."

Weeks later, Goldsmith changed his tune. On July 13, his office refused to release redacted transcripts of the meeting when Filner ordered Jones to the back of the room.

Now, the city attorney must argue against his July 1, 2013, legal opinion in a [lawsuit filed by attorney Cory Briggs][4]. If he's not successful, the public will have an opportunity to see firsthand what occurred between Filner and Jones and whether the former Freedom Rider mayor made racist remarks to the assistant city attorney or whether the feud was an example of political showmanship.

Judge Strauss will make his final decision after reviewing the June 18 transcript. At that time, he will also decide whether to make the previous closed-session transcript public.

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Jan Goldsmith
Jan Goldsmith

City attorney Jan Goldsmith and his lawyers must turn over closed-session transcripts from last year's [public feud][1] with then-mayor Bob Filner to Superior Court judge Richard Strauss to determine what, if anything, will be released publicly.

Andrew Jones

Over one year has passed since a feud erupted between Goldsmith, his top attorneys, and Filner. The spat spilled over into closed-session meetings. In April of last year, former assistant city attorney Andrew Jones told reporters weeks after one run-in with Filner that the mayor had ordered him to the back of the room. He likened the experience to that of Rosa Parks’s famous bus ride.

One month later, Jones was sent back to represent the city attorney in closed session. Filner, frustrated by the Rosa Parks statement, accused Jones of leaking confidential information to the press. He ordered Jones out of the room. Jones refused and Filner then asked that a police officer remove the assistant city attorney. Three days transpired before Goldsmith's office released a redacted transcript from the meeting to reporters at 10News and the U-T.

Goldsmith's [decision][2] to release the confidential transcript was immediately questioned.

In addition to suspending future closed-session meetings, Goldsmith addressed those questions in a [July 1, 2013 memo][3].

"The mayor appears to be unaware that only communications related to the subject matter of the closed session are deemed confidential. Actions of personal abuse are not confidential by any stretch of the imagination."

The argument was made once again in a formal declaration from Andrew Jones sometime after the June 18 run-in — the declaration was not dated, nor was it signed by Jones.

In his statement, Jones alleged that Filner had verbally assaulted him and defended the decision to go to the press.

"Mayor Filner's previous demeaning demand that I 'go sit in the back of the room' was not a noticed issue for closed session discussion by council. There is nothing about that statement that is protected or confidential."

Weeks later, Goldsmith changed his tune. On July 13, his office refused to release redacted transcripts of the meeting when Filner ordered Jones to the back of the room.

Now, the city attorney must argue against his July 1, 2013, legal opinion in a [lawsuit filed by attorney Cory Briggs][4]. If he's not successful, the public will have an opportunity to see firsthand what occurred between Filner and Jones and whether the former Freedom Rider mayor made racist remarks to the assistant city attorney or whether the feud was an example of political showmanship.

Judge Strauss will make his final decision after reviewing the June 18 transcript. At that time, he will also decide whether to make the previous closed-session transcript public.

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Comments
3

I have always gotten a bad vibe from this man. Especially after the Sidewalk Chalk incident. And I get it with our Mayor Faulkoner as well. I don't think either of these guys should be serving in ANY capacity, in ANY political position, in THIS City.

Aug. 29, 2014

Appreciate this thought, but both Goldsmith and Faulconer were duly elected to office and are in like Flynn with downtown establishment players who give off even worse vibes. Let's do remember Goldsmith's failed prosecution of the Chalker, though -- a free-speech story so ably reported by Dorian Hargrove.

Aug. 29, 2014

Actually, deputy city attorney Paige Hazard handled that ridiculous prosecution. She's no longer with the City Attorney's office.

Aug. 30, 2014

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