Thursday, May 12, 2016

City Lawyers Demanded Unconscionable Agreement in WHETSONE Dock Case

Gerald and Marcia Tjoflat (courtesy Dan Bowling) 

When the WHETSTONE FAMILY sued the City of St. Augustine in 2012, claiming the right to build a dock on City-owned bottomlands, City Attorney RONALD WAYNE BROWN hired the 170 lawyer corporate law firm of Marcia Tjoflat -- the wife of Gerald Tjoflat, the legendary Eleventh Circuit United States Court of Appeals Judge, appointed by Presidents Nixon and Ford to trial and appellate beeches -- to represent the City of St. Augustine.  Lawyer Tjoflat wrote him, "Dear Ron."

Since retired, GUNSTER lawyer Marcia Tjoflat had two unconscionable provisions in the engagement letter, which BROWN, the estimable City Attorney signed:

o "Retention and Disposition of Documents. At your written request, following the termination of our engagement and upon our receipt of your payment for all outstanding fees and costs, we will return to you all papers and other property that you provided to us. We may retain our own files pertaining to this matter. However, we reserve the right, in our sole discretion and without further notice, to destroy or otherwise dispose of documents, data, or other materials related to or generated on account of the representation within a reasonably short time after the termination of our engagement in connection with each and any matter."

TRANSLATION: The City agreed to let GUNSTER violate Florida's Open Records law and destroy documents.

o "the City has agreed that this representation will not preclude or the City will not otherwise object to Gunster's representation in other matters before the City, even if such matters appear to be or are adverse to the City."

TRANSLATION: The City waived known and unknown conflicts of interest, without any apparent contractual consideration or law firm conflicts check.

A similar provision is in the ROGERS TOWERS corporate law firm proposed retainer agreement with Anastasia Mosquito Control District of St. Johns County (on my advice, AMCD rejected ROGERS TOWERS in 2010).

Efforts to obtain comment from the City and the GUNSTER law firm have been unavailing.

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