From Sean Cockerham in Juneau --
Todd Palin's lawyer sent Anchorage Sen. Hollis French an email letter Friday night objecting to the state Senate's finding that Todd is in contempt for not obeying a legislative subpoena.
Here's the full letter from Anchorage attorney Thomas Van Flein:
Dear Senator French:
I write today to set the record straight regarding the inflammatory allegation that Mr. Palin, or the other witnesses, "ignored' their respective Senate Judiciary Committee subpoenas. The true facts are that the Legislative Council asked for these subpoenas to further its investigation. On October 10, 2008, the Council unanimously passed a motion concluding that the witness' responses satisfied their respective obligations under the subpoenas. The transcript for this meeting reflects the following: "That the following individuals have submitted responses to interrogatories, thereby aiding the investigation conducted by Mr. Branchflower. They include: Diane Keisel, Annette Kreitzer , Janice Mason, Nicki Neal, Michael Nizich, Kristina Perry, Brad Thompson, Ivy Frye, Todd Palin and Randy Ruaro." The Chair, Sen. Elton, then stated that the reason he asked for this motion was because "I want to make sure that the public understands and knows that these people were responsive."
On behalf of Mr. Palin, I object to a meeting held without notice to Mr. Palin or his counsel, and conducted in a manner that prevented Mr. Palin from providing evidence and testimony that he did not "ignore" a subpoena and did not act contemptuously.
Further, as the Legislative Council authorized the investigation, under its own rules, the Alaska Rules of Civil Procedure applied to the investigation. Pursuant to Civil Rule 45, the recipient of a subpoena has three options: (1) comply in full, (2) object or (3) seek court intervention by way of a motion to quash. Mr. Palin timely filed written objections pursuant to Civil Rule 45. It was then the committee's duty to convene and address the objections to the subpoena. It never did convene.
In fact, the senate committee never had a quorum and was never gaveled in on the proposed day of testimony. Even if someone had chosen to "ignore" a subpoena, there was no proceeding held that day, and thus no possibility of contempt.
More importantly, however, several parties moved to quash the subpoenas, and others filed timely objections. Contrary to some reports, this is not "clever" lawyering or exploitation of a "loophole." Rather, this is civil procedure 101. Immediately after the court ruled that it would not intervene in what it deemed a political question, all subpoenaed witnesses, including Mr. Palin, filed detailed written responses. These are not the actions of contemptuous witnesses, rather, they reflect a studied and deliberate invocation of law and due process, and in accord with the rule of law, once the court issued its decision, the parties then responded in full to the subpoena. Your quoted comments acknowledge "their compliance once the suit was resolved."
Put directly, the resolution of contempt lacks a factual basis and is contrary to the Legislative Council's own unanimous findings. Not one witness "ignored" a subpoena. Further, it is troubling that the Senate would pass such a resolution without giving notice to the people most directly impacted, or to provide them with the most fundamental right of due process--an opportunity to confront their accusers.
Very truly yours,
Thomas Van Flein, Esq.
Attorney for Todd Palin