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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Otter Appeals Baratta Denial of Att'y Fees in Gracedale Saga

Back in March, Judge Stephen Baratta denied a motion for $21,960 in attorney's fees filed by Larry Otter in the Gracedale saga. This is what the Judge said at the time.
"[T]here is no suggestion, let alone proof, of any conduct which could be considered vexatious, in bad faith or otherwise improper. The dispute before us was clearly a bona fide legal dispute. The issues raised by the Objectors, based on the quality of their pleadings and the record they presented during the February 4, 2011 hearing, were legitimate and brought in good faith. In fact, with regard to many of their objections, Mr. O'Hare and Mr. Angle were the prevailing party. They established that thousands of signatures were invalid, either because the signatures themselves did not meet the requirements of the Election Code or there were defects related to the circulators and/or the manner in which certain petitions were circulated."

Otter refused to take No for an answer. In late April, he filed a new motion based on "after-discovered evidence." He told WFMZ-TV69 that Ron Angle and I diverted taxpayer dollars to fund the lawsuit, and demanded a criminal investigation. He likened what happened to Bonusgate. "[P]eople went to jail. I think same thing may happen here."

The Morning Call followed suit with an article that asked, "Did taxpayers fund Gracedale petition fight?". To make sure we were really muddied up, a second article was published a few weeks later, asking "Did taxpayers help fund a private Gracedale lawsuit?"

We were tried and convicted in the press. At the courthouse, a gaggle of title searchers spoke about me in hushed tones.

Never mind that the attorney braying to newspapers and WFMZ is a raving lunatic who himself was sanctioned in the Eastern District of Pa. in 2008 "for relentlessly pursuing baseless litigation." Or that he was tagged again, this time by the Commonwealth Court, with $80,000 in attorney fees for disingenuous behavior and bad faith. Or that his practice is so pathetic that he has no malpractice insurance.

Amazingly, Otter told me, in an email, "You may be collateral damage."

After filing his motion, he amended it a few times. But basically, he claimed that (1) Angle and I were secretly being represented by a law firm representing the County in connection with Gracedale's sale; (2) I had lied about it under oath; and (3) at the same time that this law firm was representing me, I was secretly representing the County.

Then the continuance requests began. First, there was a death in the family. Then, his fur had to be groomed. He kept putting the case off, but the hammer finally came down and we all came to Court on August 18.

Baratta tossed Otter out of Court without a word of testimony. That's because the motion and its numerous amendments were patently frivolous. When he has to try his case in a courtroom, as opposed to a television studio, Otter falls on his face.

In a written opinion, Judge Baratta explains. "We note there were no new allegations proffered by counsel related to vexatious, obdurate, dilatory or bad faith actions by O'Hare/Angle in bringing or prosecuting their challenge to the Petition Initiative."

In today's mail, I learned that Otter has lodged an appeal with the Commonwealth Court. Of course, he made sure that WFMZ knew about it before me.

Over all these months, Otter never bothered to get the transcript in which I supposedly lied.

I got it in just one day.

I can't wait to appear before the very Court that has already sanctioned Otter once.
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