Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Jones v. Lamkin

United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Augusta Division

April 11, 2018

MALLORY C. JONES and TROY A. MOSES, Plaintiffs,
v.
RAMONE LAMKIN, Individually, and In His Official Capacity as Marshal of the and Magistrate Courts of Richmond County, Georgia, and AUGUSTA, GEORGIA, Defendants.

          ORDER

          BRIAN K. EPPS UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Plaintiffs move the Court to compel Defendant Richmond County Marshal Ramone Lamkin to testify regarding (1) legal advice sought after his election but before his term of office began from City of Augusta attorney Jody Smitherman, for which Marshal Lamkin claims attorney-client privilege; and (2) the bases for denials in the Answer of numbered paragraphs in the Complaint, which Marshal Lamkin argues are legal rather than factual. Plaintiffs seek sanctions and attorney's fees because Marshal Lamkin followed the instructions of his attorney and refused to answer questions concerning these topics during his deposition. (See generally doc. nos. 38, 39, 43.) The Court GRANTS IN PART the motion and (1) COMPELS Marshal Lamkin to testify regarding conversations with Ms. Smitherman before his term of office began since no attorney-client relationship existed at that time; (2) FINDS the Answer denials at issue are either legal in nature or already covered in Marshal Lamkin's first deposition; and (3) FINDS sanctions and an award of attorney's fees are inappropriate.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiffs are former deputies of the Richmond County Marshal's Office who supported incumbent Marshal Steve Smith in the 2016 election when he was defeated by Marshal Lamkin. (Doc. no. 1, Compl. ¶¶ 3-6, 11.) By letters dated December 6, 2016, Marshal Lamkin informed Plaintiffs as follows:

Due to the change in administration and leadership, please accept this as an official notice of the Richmond County Marshal's Office to relieve you [sic] of your duty, effective January 1, 2017. Please have all equipment issued out to you by the Richmond County Marshal's Office turned in to the quartermaster no later than December 31st.

(Id., Ex. A.) On January 6, 2017, Plaintiffs filed suit alleging Defendants violated their First Amendment rights by terminating their employment because of their support for Marshal Smith during the campaign. (Doc. no. 18, pp. 1-2.)

         Marshal Lamkin testified at deposition that, after his election but before his term of office began on January 1, 2017, he conferred with Ms. Smitherman regarding Plaintiffs' employment, made the decision to terminate the employment of Plaintiffs, and issued the termination letters to Plaintiffs. (See doc. no. 39-2 (“Lamkin Dep.”), pp. 16-20, 53-60.) Ms. Smitherman objected to any deposition testimony concerning their conversation based on the attorney-client privilege. (Id. at 17-19.) When asked to explain denials in his Answer of Complaint paragraphs 6, 7, 10 and 12 to 18, defense counsel instructed Marshal Lamkin not to answer because the questions were legal in nature, Marshal Lamkin was unqualified to answer as a layperson, and he relied on advice of counsel in asserting the denials. (Id. at 63-65, 145-57.)

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. No. Attorney-Client Relationship Existed When Marshal Lamkin Conferred with Ms. Smitherman.

         The defense contends the communications between Ms. Smitherman and Marshal-elect Lamkin are protected by the attorney-client privilege. In support, Marshal Lamkin alleges in part the following:

d. Lamkin, due to winning the May 24, 2016 Election, was an individual within the Marshal's Department who was authorized to communicate with Smitherman regarding Plaintiffs' employment;
e. Smitherman's conversations with Lamkin about the Plaintiffs took place after he won election and held the position of Marshal-Elect.

(Doc. no. 41, p. 8.) “The party invoking the attorney-client privilege has the burden of proving that an attorney-client relationship existed and that the particular communications were confidential.” Bogle v. McClure, 332 F.3d 1347, 1358 (11th Cir. 2003) (citation omitted); see also In re Grand Jury Proceedings 88-9 (MIA), 899 F.2d 1039, 1042 (11th Cir. 1990) (recognizing first requirement of establishing claim of attorney-client privilege is proof that asserted holder of privilege is a client).

         As Marshal Lamkin recognizes in his brief, Rule 1.13 of the Georgia Rules of Professional Conduct defines the relationship between an attorney and a corporation or governmental entity. Subsection (a) of Rule 1.13 provides that “[a] lawyer employed or retained by an organization represents the organization acting through its duly authorized constituents.” GA ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.