Archive for Wednesday, August 20, 2003

Council waives privilege on Bennett Report

August 20, 2003

The Baldwin City Council has waived attorney client privilege regarding the infamous Bennett Report.

The council approved in a 4-0 vote Monday to waive attorney client privilege for the report compiled following an investigation into the Baldwin Police Department by the Kansas Highway Patrol, the Kansas Bureau of Investigation and Special Counsel Robert Bennett in 2001.

"Council has taken action to waive its attorney client privilege with regard to an investigative report previously compiled as it attains to federal litigation involving current and former city police officers," City Attorney Matt Hoy said following the council meeting. "The absolute bar prohibiting a party from discovering the contents has been waived."

The council's decision came following a 50-minute executive session.

Hoy said although the attorney client privilege has been waived, it doesn't mean the Bennett Report's contents can be discussed.

"Waiver of privilege removes absolute prohibition of discovery of information, which is different than affirmative disclosure of contents," he said.

The litigation Hoy spoke of refers to a $1.2 million lawsuit four former and current Baldwin police officers filed against the city as a result of the treatment they received from disciplinary action taken against them.

Officers Eric Garcia and Chuck Hensley and former officers Bill Dempsey and Charles Woolsoncroft filed complaints in 2002 seeking $300,000 a piece for violations of the first and 14th amendments, freedom of speech and due process respectively.

The officers' action followed an investigation into the management of the BCPD and the compilation of the Bennett Report. The contents of the report have never been released.

Hoy would not say why the council made the decision to waive attorney client privilege.

"That's a matter of litigation strategy," he said.

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