Thursday, November 3, 2011

San Leandro City Attorney Left Stancill Reports In The Public Record

Nov. 3, 2011 | Directly or indirectly, what began as a workplace squabble mushroomed in three years to the biggest change in leadership in San Leandro history. Two police chiefs—gone. The city manager—deposed—and a new mayor taking the oath of office earlier this year. In fact, just one office in has been spared by the stain of the Stancill case.

Inside the San Leandro council chamber a nameplate affixed to the facing of the dais reads: Jayne Williams, City Attorney. Williams came to San Leandro 15 years ago after a stint in Oakland and works for the ubiquitous law firm, Meyers-Nave. San Leandro, like many other Bay Area cities, effectively outsource the cost of their counsel to the firm founded by San Leandro native Steven Meyers. Williams exudes a grandmotherly aura and rarely speaks during meetings. When viewed from certain angles, her diminutive stature gives the appearance of a disembodied head resting upon the desk during council meetings. The observation is apt because her missteps in stanching the wounds inflicted by the police department in the Stancill case may put her head next on the chopping block.

In fact, this article would be nearly impossible to verify without a crucial mistake made by Williams. In July 2010, just as the city was in the final stretches of closing the lawsuit filed by Stancill against the city, his legal counsel motioned for a summary judgment and placed the two reports mentioned in this article, both confidential and protected by a court order, into the public record. Amazingly, Williams never responded to the request and the reports, including interviews by numerous current and former officers sat in the public record waiting to be revealed. The damage from the error may also lead to a lawsuit against the city, according to sources. In addition, three members from the council seated in 2009 say Williams never provided the two reports clearly finding Sobek, O’Callaghan and Pickard knowingly collected and exaggerated the initial claims against Stancill before they unanimously approved the first four settlements costing $405,000. A year later, and without public notice of the decision, the city approved a settlement with O’Callaghan for $225,000 in her civil suit. The deal effectively enriched two of the main characters—Sobek and his wife, O’Callaghan—who the city’s own paid investigators found created the entire ordeal in the first place.

Several council members say the fate of Williams in light of this news was broached during closed session last month, but the votes for dismissal are not yet there, they said. Williams declined to comment on whether she provided the council with reports, citing closed session privilege. She also denied the city was outsmarted by Stancill’s attorney by allowing the reports into the public record last year. The release asked for by Stancill’s attorney was for litigation purposes, she said. “We never represent that everything can remain confidential, particularly in the litigation context or public agency context.” She called allowing the two confidential reports to enter the public realm a “litigation strategy” to ultimately led to successfully settling the suit. “Should there had been a different strategy?” Williams said. “Should we have anticipated someone would go into PACER (the U.S. District Courts’ public database) and take the reports and release them? That has never occurred in my 30 years of practice.”

In spite of the recent disclosure of continuing misdeeds by higher-ups at the police department, there continues to this day, an institutional streak for enabling the police department’s noted cowboy culture by some on the city council. One member, who after a recent council meeting admitted never seeing the contents of either report concluding possible police corruption, then accused Stancill of creating the controversy. “You’ve got it wrong,” said the council member. “Dewayne Stancill is the one who cost this city millions.”

Oct. 31, 2011 - Prologue: Amid Budget Cuts, San Leandro Official Spent Money On Other Things
Wed. - Part 1: Former San Leandro Police Officer Went From Shining Star To Pariah
Today - Part 2: How the City Attorney Bungled the Settlement, Allowed Story To Become Public
Fri - Part 3: Jealousy Pushed One Officer To Abuse The Public's Trust To Protest Promotion
Nov. 7 - Part 4: If Police Officer Can't Write Reports, How Can Alleged Crimes Be Prosecuted?


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