The Hermosa Beach City Council voted to waive-attorney client privilege and release documents from a mock jury report that was used for the Macpherson oil settlement in 2009.
“The mock jury trials have been referenced many times including at the State of the City,” Stacy Armato, the resident who filed the public information request said. “I was just trying to get it to be public record for the residents so they can look at it.”
During the meeting, Mayor Kit Bobko was accused of violating-attorney client privilege in May during his State of the City address. He showed a power point slide that announced that 25 out of 26 jurors who deliberated during the mock jury sided against the city, and the average jury verdict upon hearing the case was $254 million. At the time the mock jury information was not widely known.
“Those two slides were part of a 141 page document and on the whole it wasn’t disclosed,” Bobko said during the meeting. “Even if it was, who was it disclosed to? The people who will ultimately have to decided whether they want to have oil drilling or not.”
Councilmember Jeff Duclos was concerned about the legal ramifications of releasing the information.
“I’m trying to get a sense of the process and perhaps the implications of this thing,” Duclos said. He went on to make a motion to release the specific documents requested, but nothing additional.
“I motion that we release all the mock jury information requested,” said Bobko. “And let the public see what we were looking at when we settled the case.”
Bobko’s motion passed unanimously. Duclos was still concerned.
“The material was released illegally to Bobko,” he said. “Bobko chose to release it to the public without following procedure. He knows darn well to release that information he needs to get [permission]…. There’s a law that was broken here.”
“This is 110 percent political,” Bobko said in a later interview. “There’s clearly a faction in town who thinks – misinformed as they are – if they are able to defeat me they will defeat oil… it’s about the election and people looking for an issue. I shared it with whom it was intended to benefit. The problem is Jeff was unaware of the info and doesn’t know the details.”
He also said that he couldn’t remember where he originally got the mock jury documents and that bringing up the issue eight months later – two weeks before an election – was a political ploy.
“I’m perfectly happy to give this [information] up,” said Bobko on Tuesday night. “I’m dismayed that my colleagues that are looking to start a Watergate hearing don’t want to give up all the info. I say why not?” ER