What Town Counsel said about Gjestby’s sharing legal doc with a confidant

Many, many calls to this blog wondering what town counsel’s remarks actually were  regarding Gjesteby’s alleged ethical problems. In the complaint, selectmen accused Gjesteby of sharing an attorney/client privileged docment with a confidant, which she is legally permitted to do.  She did not give the document to the press or cause the document to be published.  (On June 29 the State Ethics Comission ruled it would take no action on the compaint.)

In a January 9, 2013 post we wrote this about Town Counsel’s remarks following a selectmen’s meeting: Town  Counsel’s remarks are in bold. 

On Tuesday Cohasset Selectmen voted to turn in Selectman Martha Gjesteby to the Attorney General for having allegedly violated the criminal conflict of interest law by sharing a confidential ”privileged” document with a member of the public.

Directly after selectmen voted to turn in Gjesteby she turned the tables on them and said she was going to turn all of them into the Attorney General regarding an open meeting law complaint and had the complaint forms ready to go. All she had to do was sign them, she said. She planned to make that decision as early as Wednesday, she said, after meeting with her attorney in a private meeting room outside of selectmen’s office. The rest of the selectmen were in an executive session…discussing what else, the illegal town manager’s new contract to start July 1.

Gjesteby’s attorney, Brandon H Moss of Murphy, Hesse Toomey & Lehane (Quincy office)  said Gjesteby had hardly done anything criminal in seeking legal advice on an issue before the selectmen, and doubted she had even breached any ethics laws.

Moss added that the document in question appeared to be a public document in all respects, as it was not marked attorney / client or privileged. No one has seen the document in question but it appears to deal with the question of selectmen’s town e-mail accounts, and does the illegal town manager have the right to ‘troll’ through any of their accounts looking for stuff he can use against them?

Even Town Counsel Paul DeRensis appeared to agree with Moss that Gjesteby had not broken any laws…”yet,” but might do so if she filed a public complaint and supplied the  ‘privileged” document to the press through an open meeting law complaint. DeRensis suggested that if Gjesteby did file, she should to make the document available to the attorney general but not to the press, to preserve the board’s relationship with counsel that he referred to as the sanctity of the attorney client privilege.  Gjesteby said she would seek the advice of her counsel on that matter, but did not feel her 5-page letter to the selectmen on various matters had been addressed at all.

Moss said Gjesteby’s complaint revolved around the board’s Dec. 18th agenda that Moss said was defective in regard to not itemizing the discussion of contracts and with whom the contract was about, and that sounds like another  Milanoski contract discussion, because the board had more discussions about Milanoski’s contract than it does almost anything else in the world.

Gjesteby said until recently she did not realize that employees (read Milanoski) could go into her e-mail and see everything. “Big Brother is here already.”

DeRensis said he agreed that the selectmen needed to protect the attorney client privilege. “Town employees are all part of the institution, “ he stressed, adding that it was important that “only the five of you should review it,” not everyone else. We can address that going forward.”





© Copyright 2013 Tanna K, All rights Reserved. Written For: Tinytown Unleashed