Hey, it’s not bad work if you can find it!
Buried in the City Manager’s portion of tomorrow night’s City Council agenda is a fifteen-page attachment regarding “Transmitting Informational Communication Relative to Confidentiality Clause Sanction(s) Award to City of Worcester.” (Law Department, 20 A)
As you may recall, the city had settled a lawsuit with a man, Trung Huynh, who had alleged that two city officers beat him. (To access this link and subsequent links to T&G articles, click here first.) Part of the terms of the $47,500 settlement was a confidentiality clause.
Mr. Huynh’s attorney, Michael L. Tumposky, however, said the following to Thomas Caywood of the Telegram: “It was an egregious case because it involved the use of a weapon that resulted in significant injury, a broken bone. I think it reflected poor judgment on the part of the officers involved and poor training.”
According to the court documents, Tumposky also spoke about the case to Lawyers Weekly, which likely means that he is an expert in poor judgment.
Because the plaintiff’s lawyer violated the confidentiality clause, the city sought the return of what they had paid Huynh.
The US District Court decided that there would have been cause to re-open the case (and perhaps have the plaintiff forfeit what he received) if Huynh (the plaintiff) had violated the confidentiality clause. But because it was the plaintiff’s attorney, the case will not be reopened, and the attorney, not the plaintiff, will have to pay the city $3,707.20.
It’s not often that I agree with T&G editorials, but the editorial about this situation was one with which I wholly agreed:
First, the public has a right to know about legal claims against police officers and how they are resolved, whether in court or through a settlement.
Second, taxpayers deserve to know the cost to them of resolving the matter.
Lastly, the public ought to be told what personnel actions, if any, are taken afterward regarding the officer or officers in question.
We’ll likely hear some discussion tomorrow night about check registers and employee travel, but I’m not sure how much we’ll hear about settling cases where the city admits no wrongdoing and the citizens never hear what may or may not be happening in their name.
There’s more to this than patting the legal department on the back for retrieving nearly $4,000. It’s about acting as if we have any shred of transparency in city government.