Individual seeks to quash subpoena in Hicks suit

Quinton Sheppard - Posted on Jun 30, 2010 - 04:35 PM

One of the 12 individuals issued subpoenas in a lawsuit against Gloucester Commonwealth’s Attorney Robert "Bob" Hicks has filed a motion to quash duces tecum the order in Richmond Circuit Court.

Attorneys on behalf of former Gloucester County Board of Supervisors member Teresa Altemus and board members Bobby Crewe, Michelle Ressler and Gregory Woodard issued the subpoenas in April to 12 individuals, requesting volumes of information regarding million dollar lawsuits they filed against Hicks.

Gloucester attorney Kenneth Gibson, counsel for Garr Johnson, one of the 40 residents who circulated petitions to remove the four public officials from office, filed the paperwork on June 21 in the court.

Gibson wrote that Johnson "previously provided Plaintiffs with documents specifically referencing (Hicks) from January 1, 2007 through the present, but objects to the subpoena’s requests for additional documents and objects unrelated to (Hicks)."

He continues, "(Johnson) and other citizens of Gloucester County lawfully engaged in the public affairs of their community to address their concerns regarding the actions of several members of the Gloucester County Board of Supervisors" and "The First and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution protect the rights of (Johnson) and his fellow citizens to petition the government for redress of grievances and engage in political speech."

The motion to quash then argues that the subpoena "infringes upon (Johnson’s) constitutionally protected rights and constitutes an invasion of privacy" and the subpoena is not "reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence in the civil trial of (Hicks), in that it is not material or relevant to Plaintiff’s cause of action."

Gibson wrote Johnson is not a party to this lawsuit and did not witness or hear of any alleged statements by Hicks, which form the basis of the supervisors’ suit.

He argues the "Plaintiff’s subpoena appears calculated to accumulate additional documents and information regarding (Johnson) to possibly form the basis of legal action against him, a citizen who simply took part in the public affairs of his local government" and the subpoena is "an oppressive and unduly burdensome inquiry that would impose a substantial expense on (Johnson) to fully comply with the demands of the subpoena."

Hicks’s attorney John Gibney Jr. also filed a motion to quash all of the subpoenas. In his motion, Gibney called the subpoenas "nothing less than a fishing trip in an apparent attempt by the plaintiffs to find more people to sue."

The attorneys on behalf of Altemus, Crewe, Ressler and Woodard filed an opposition to that motion June 2 claiming that Gibney’s motion to quash was "untimely" because it was filed after the return date for the subpoenas.

They also wrote that Hicks does not have the standing to assert the objections contained in the motion because he did not assert any claim of privilege and did not claim the documents sought contain his personal or confidential information.

Finally, the attorneys argue that the motion is "moot" because at that time, only one of the 12 people issued the subpoenas failed to respond.