Thursday, September 29, 2011
Judge Baratta Asks Commonwealth Court to Dismiss Otter Appeal
In the never-ending Gracedale saga, Larry Otter recently appealed Judge Baratta's August 30 refusal to reconsider the imposition of attorney fees against Ron Angle and yours truly.
After the appeal was filed, Otter was directed to file what is known as a 1925 statement, in which he explains what's bothering him. He responded with a rambling and repetitive recitation of 11 reasons. But according to Judge Baratta, many of them are "wholly irrelevant."
Baratta originally denied attorney fees in this matter on March 4, 2011 because there simply "was no proof of any conduct that could be considered vexatious, in bad faith or otherwise improper." Otter never appealed that denial, but 52 days later, claimed there was "newly found evidence" of bad faith. He amended that petition in May, and then amended it again in June. Then he withdrew one of them.
Otter's "newly found evidence" is Eckert Seamans, a law firm hired to represent the County in expediting Gracedale's sale. Those lawyers billed the County for reviewing my proposed complaint and their suggestions, which made it a better pleading. According to Otter, this is just like Bonusgate. In fact, he had us going to jail in WFMZ-TV69 interviews. According to Judge Baratta, "[w]e were unable to follow Counsel's analogy."
Judge Baratta concludes that, even if Otter is correct in claiming that the County acted improperly, that has nothing to do with Angle or me. "[W]e found that such evidence is irrelevant to the issue before the Court related to proving vexatious, obdurate, dilatory or bad faith actions or motive on the part of the pro se litigants. We have already ruled that Mr. O'Hare and Mr. Angle raised legitimate and justiciable issues and further presented competent and compelling evidence challenging the legality of thousand signatures. In fact, Mr. O'Hare and Mr. Angle successfully established that thousands of signatures were invalid ... ."
Unfortunately, we still fell short.
Baratta goes on to say, "We suggest that this appeal be dismissed."
It's rare to see a judge suggest to the Commonwealth Court that an appeal has no merit, but there it is. Undoubtedly, Baratta is signalling these jurists that Otter's appeal, like his numerous motions, is frivolous.
Something tells me they already know.
Updated Friday Afternoon - On another blog, someone who anonymously claims to have read Judge Baratta's opinion makes this accusation: "No where did the Judge say 'DUMP THE APPEAL'. This must be the law by bo. Again half truths and lies."
I quoted Judge Baratta accurately. I'll add that I can find no indication that Otter's appeal has been indexed in Commonwealth Court.