Attorney Ryan Solomon Ordered to Pay for LaFrance 'Shenanigans'

by Gwen Moritz  on Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2011 3:19 pm  

Ryan Solomon

"Considering the evidence as a whole, including the actions of Mr. LaFrance and Mr. Solomon, I am convinced beyond peradventure that Plaintiffs were willing 'to do the necessary' to avoid discovery - even if that meant flouting court orders. This is all the more troubling since Plaintiffs initiated the civil case, choosing thereby to subject themselves to the discovery that is a standard part of any civil case," he wrote.

And later: "I remain puzzled at the Government's angst at the prospect of legitimate discovery - and at its extensive attempts to block it. The Government's standard argument against expanded discovery in criminal cases is 'danger to witnesses.' While this is obviously a legitimate concern in some cases, there is no suggestion of this in this 'white collar' case. Would the sky fall if the Government's key witnesses were required to answer questions under oath?"

He rejected U.S. Attorney Chris Thyer's argument that moving the civil case to federal court had precedent in the 1999 case of former state Sen. Mike Todd, and his wording suggests that the prosecutors should have known better:

"After ample time to reflect, the Government continues to rely on United States v. Todd to support its decision to remove this case to federal court. This case is inapposite, and clearly so," Wilson wrote.

Todd's case involved a joint state-federal investigation and questions about the federal Freedom of Information Act. LaFrance v. Sorensen didn't involve the federal government at all, a point Wilson belabored: "[T]here is no federal officer or agent involved in the civil case; no federal statute is involved; no party was acting at the direction of a federal officer or agent; the Government had not been sued; there was no judicial power invoked against the Government; and Defendants were not seeking information from the Government."

The Deposition
The deposition of Jason LaFrance was supposed to start at 9 a.m. on Monday, Nov. 7, and to be followed over the next two days by similar depositions of his father and brother, Stephen L. LaFrance Sr. and Stephen L. LaFrance Jr.

But the Rose lawyers, Solomon and Martin, moved to dismiss the civil case literally at the last-minute - 4:59 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 4. Pat James, the Sorensens' attorney, insisted that the deposition continue since Wilson had not ruled on the motion.

After four telephone conferences with the vacationing Judge Wilson, the deposition was taken in the garage of Jason LaFrance's $2.5 million home on Edgehill Road in Little Rock. It was complicated by the presence of LaFrance's 1-year-old son, his wife's pregnancy and his ultimate decision to ban James and Garret Sorensen from entering his house even to use the bathroom.

Wilson found much to question and criticize, including representations that LaFrance's pregnant wife had been ordered to stay in bed. Instead, the judge noted, she had traveled to Fayetteville for a Razorback football game the previous weekend, had posed for a family portrait that morning and had lunched on a "hamburger and milkshake" with her husband, who was supposed to be submitting to a deposition.



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