Bar investigates Rudnick, Gary and Geller for allegations of lack of candor with the tribunal, in an attempt to pad legal fees

7/1/2013 retraction, per ORS 31.120
The original headline on this post, on 6/10/2013, was “Bar investigates Rudnick, Geller and Gary for alleged bill padding.”
On 6/20/2013 I received a retraction demand from Ms Rudnick and Mr. Gary per ORS 31.120, which gives news organizations 2 weeks to retract allegedly false and defamatory statements, before they can be sued for defamation. They wrote:

Every day for the past week, you have published information concerning your defamatory statements on your blogspot under a headline saying “Bar Investigates Rudnick, Gellar[sic] and Gary For Alleged Bill Padding.” [Emphasis added.] This headline is itself false and defamatory. The frivolous complaint that you filed with the Oregon State Bar does not allege “bill padding.” Because this headline is republished on Google and other search engines the republications of your original defamatory claim that we committed perjury and your subsequent deliberate misstatement of the nature of your complaint threatens to cause us and the law firm with which we are associated to suffer irreparable harm to our professional reputations.

Pursuant to ORS 31.120 we hereby demand that you publish a retraction of your false and defamatory statements concerning us as provided in ORS 31.215.

(Full letter below). The ethics complaint to the bar which they refer to stated, in paragraph 2:

In brief, I believe that Mr. Gary, Ms Rudnick, and Mr. Geller may have violated the ethics requirement for “candor with the tribunal”, in an attempt to pad the legal fees HLGR was trying to get from the state of Oregon as the result of a public records case, and that Mr. Geller may have violated rules regarding conflicts of interest stemming from his support for this effort, and may have used his public office to try and delay or prevent release of public records related to it.

Ms Rudnick and Mr. Gary argued that my headline summarization of “alleged bill padding” was not factually accurate, given that my complaint does not accuse them of bill padding per se, but rather of a lack of “candor with the tribunal”, in an attempt to pad their legal fees.

My headline was not factually supported, I retract it, and I regret publishing it.

6/19/2013 takedown update: 

The good news: UO’s attorney’s at HLGR finally admit that UO Matters is news media. This will certainly help me argue for public interest fee-waivers. I’m no law professor, but it also seems that they agree I’m protected under ORS 31.150, Oregon’s law regarding “Strategic Lawsuits against Public Participation”, which Randy Geller has argued in the past is not true. The law firm of Davis, Wright and Tremaine has information on this law here.

The bad news: They’ve sent me a “take-down” notice demanding a retraction of this post, particularly the headline. Under Oregon defamation law (ORS 31.120) plaintiffs can’t recover damages against news media unless they first request a retraction. ORS 31.125 explains the rules:

The correction or retraction shall consist of a statement by the publisher substantially to the effect that the defamatory statements previously made are not factually supported and that the publisher regrets the original publication thereof.

I’ll have a response to Ms Rudnick and Mr. Gary’s letter after due consideration. Meanwhile, comments are welcome. Full text here:

6/12/2013 update. I’m not the only person who’s unhappy with what Rudnick and Gary charged the taxpayers. Oregon AG Ellen Rosenblum appealed the $550,000 in HLGR billings to the Oregon Court of Appeals back in July 2012 – apparently one of her first official acts – and it’s still in court. More docs soon:

6/10/2013. Nigel Jaquiss has a detailed story in Willamette Week, here, with brief responses from Geller and Gary.

It’s only tangentially related to the bills Rudnick and HLGR have submitted to UO for legal work involving the faculty union, here, which are probably close to $500K by now.

Elevator version?

  • Sharon Rudnick of HLGR got UO lawyer Randy Geller to go along with a plan to try and make taxpayers pay $860K in billings for a public records case related to the Mark Long / Cylvia Hayes energy consulting scandal. 
  • The Oregon Bar Association is now investigating allegations that Rudnick exaggerated HLGR’s rates when the judge was determining how much taxpayers would have to pay the firm, 
  • that Geller was less than completely forthcoming about HLGR’s contracts with UO when he submitted an affidavit in support of the $860K figure, 
  • and that given his conflicts of interest he probably shouldn’t have been the one setting UO’s public records fees and doing the redactions on the HLGR invoices for work billed to UO.

My ethics complaint to the bar is here, the affidavits from Rudnick, Geller, and Bill Gary are here (big file) and the letter from the bar’s Assistant General Counsel Chris Mullman giving them until 6/20/2013 to respond to the initial intake query is here.

More on how UO came to hire Rudnick and HLGR here, more on Mr. Geller’s fury over John Kroger’s investigation of UO’s general counsel’s office and Geller’s August 2012 appointment of Melinda Grier as UO GC Emeritus (sic) here, and more on his past problems following public records law here.

Fact check update: My bar complaint states that the Frohnmayer/Gary bar ethics complaint against DOJ attorney Sean Riddell led to sanctions against him. Actually, the bar dismissed their complaint in Sept. 2012, finding he had made no violations of the bar’s rules of professional conduct. My apologies to Mr. Riddell for the error.

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74 Responses to Bar investigates Rudnick, Gary and Geller for allegations of lack of candor with the tribunal, in an attempt to pad legal fees

  1. Anonymous says:

    It’s such a shame that the U of O can’t fire you for wasting other people’s and your own time.

    • Old Man says:

      An equally tangential comment: UOM has yet to waste as much time (his own or others) as has Geller with his inept intrusions into UO governance.

    • Anonymous says:

      My comment wasn’t tangential.

    • Anonymous says:

      Only if there is nothing turned up can one even question the merits of UOM’s investment. Moreover, campus has already accumulated plenty of indebtedness for UOM’s public contributions.

      Option 1: Have you not been paying attention?

      Option 2: Welcome back, Jim. Or, is this Randy now? Sharon? Beamer Tim?

    • Anonymous says:

      pretty self serving, Bill.

    • Anonymous says:

      I don’t know… I appreciate public-good provisions. Thanks again, UOM. I hate thinking that we are entrenched with the likes of HGLR and fully support any such investigations.

  2. Anonymous says:

    “Only if there is nothing turned up…”

    I’m not quite sure what you mean. Both of the allegations in Harbaugh’s complaint are facially ludicrous. Harbaugh has filed scores of ethics complaints against all sorts of people and not one has proven meritorious, EVER.

    We can agree to disagree on UOM’s public contributions.

    • Anonymous says:

      Ok.. it’s Jim.

      In part, I credit UOM with getting your ass canned. I credit UOM with Dave having to repay (some of) his stolen bounty. Every public record request is more information than we would have had otherwise. We have the athletic department paying back half a million that they otherwise would have been taking with the rest of their millions in subsidy (without even a thank you).

      Just a start.

    • Anonymous says:

      1) I’m not Jim

      2) Your crediting UOM with Dave having to repay (stolen) money bears no resemblance to the truth and the fact that you even suggest it in earnest outs you as either gullible or dumb; it’s also strong evidence of the damage that this blog causes

      3) Have a nice life

    • Everyone knows that I’m the only Real Jim Bean around here.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Frohnmayer’s assent to this scheme to take taxpayer’s money for his firm merits public censure.

    • Anonymous says:

      Why? The state deliberately destroyed public records. They could have also settled over a year ago for a tiny fraction of the damages amount and chose to stonewall.

    • Anonymous says:

      “A scheme to take taxpayers money”? How about defending someone against egregious conduct by the government? DOJ brought this on themselves and were nailed in court for it.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Thanks, I’d been wondering what Prof. Frohnmayer did while on sabbatical.

  5. The Truth says:

    The incestuous web involving HGLR, Frohnmayer, Kilkenny, Geller, Grier, Pernsteiner, et al has bilked the taxpayers and tuition-paying UO students out of hundreds of thousands (potentially millions) of dollars. This abuse of funds needs to be exposed for all to see.

    • UO Matters says:

      Dave’s done so much for the people of this state. We can never repay him. He’s sure gonna make us try though.

    • Anonymous says:

      My, are we a litle paranoid?

  6. Anonymous says:

    Lawyers lie, cheat, and pad their bills?

    You call this news? “Institutionalized News Media Organization” my ass!

    • Anonymous says:

      You are so right! This is not news!

      Currently Top US Stories CNN
      Worker rescued from Hearst Tower
      Severe weather threatening…
      Woman missing… gets jail
      Philly priest… gets jail
      Girl gets lung
      Dog murders boy who survived tornado

      And to be fair and balanced
      Girl gets lung
      Baptists condom gay boy scouts
      Grandma shoots intruder defends action
      Texas city tosses tossing red light cameras
      …Trayvon Martin not on trial.

      You are right! Your Ass.
      UOM get back to reporting the hard stuff: Protecting us from these gay child porn watching, drinking drug using, professors atop PLC in Tornadoes and Forest Fires while marauding bands of pitbulls take over oregon hall.

    • Anonymous says:

      Oh and professors fired for red light camera violation

  7. Anonymous says:

    To Anonymous “I’m not Jim”:

    You can say either that UOM has outed himself as “gullible and dumb,” or that the blog causes damage, but not both.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Obviously you are an economics professor and not a lawyer. Your complaint is completely without merit.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yup. And why this doesn’t raise more red flags among UOM’s faithful is puzzling. You don’t have to be a lawyer, or an economics professor, or even particularly intelligent to see that Harbaugh is a vexatious complainant.

    • UO Matters says:

      You mean “persistent complainant.”

      And I’m not the only one. The Oregon DOJ has taken their vexations about the HLGR fees to the Oregon Court of Appeals, which has been considering it for 11 months now. More docs soon.

      And to “Obviously”: Last time I looked Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, who filed the appeal, was a lawyer.

    • Anonymous says:

      I meant what I said. Other than the return to work provision–which was harmless, though one wouldn’t know it from the fact that you discussed it in seven different blog posts–every single complaint you’ve ever filed against anyone has been summarily dismissed for lack of merit, and you’ve filed scores of them. That is the definition of vexation. And if anyone needs more evidence of your tenuous grip over reality, the comment you just made proves it. You just conflated two entirely separate issues–(1) the merits of the fee award in the Riddell case, and (2) your ludicrous “bar complaint.” And I bet you don’t even see the difference, do you?

    • UO Matters says:

      It’s a big internet, please spell it out for my readers in 10K characters or less.

    • Anonymous says:

      I had to look up all those highfalutin first year pre law words and after I realized you were trying to put UOM right there on the bike with the LTD Sucks, go ducks guy, well that really got me thinking. Is UOM really vexatious, with a tenuous grasp on reality? I do not know. Does he do these things intending only to harass and do harm, for the simple joy and pleasure of harassing and harming? Is that his sole purpose? Or is there some other reason to ask some of these questions?

      Can anyone come up with other people he files vexatious lawsuits and complaints against? If there are then I suppose I could believe he is vexatious. I think I read somewhere that the god ucks guy files suits against the city, county, ag, ltd and on and on.

      Is there absolutely no basis and merit in the issues he raises? It does looks from the outside like the last Chancellor had two or three houses and was barely in the Eugene house and the bequest does require the chancellor or UO president to live there. Has he started in on pernicious campaign with Dr. Rose? What malign intent did he level against the Hat and the new guy…. whats his name, I forget, I don’t see him around all that much, but then I am not a pourland booster and my ‘Job One” is not to pander to egos raising to transform the University of Oregon into their vision.

      You may well be right but I guess I will have to reserve judgment until you provide the list of all these actions. What is it called when something is not based on fact; without a foundation. UOM has his on this blog with source documents and links, he would make a good business school student.

    • Anonymous says:

      It is standard procedure to appeal a large verdict. DOJ was found guilty in a court of law. I think Ellen was not unhappy with “charging the taxpayers” (how absurd!) but with the fact that they got nailed for egregious conduct.

  9. Anonymous says:

    “Incestuous web”???? Some of these people you list have never met!

  10. Anonymous says:

    “Ok.. it’s Jim.

    In part, I credit UOM with getting your ass canned. I credit UOM with Dave having to repay (some of) his stolen bounty. Every public record request is more information than we would have had otherwise. We have the athletic department paying back half a million that they otherwise would have been taking with the rest of their millions in subsidy (without even a thank you).

    Just a start.”

    Bill, can you say more about how you are responsible for Dave having to repay the stolen bounty?

  11. Anonymous says:

    I’m not sure you’ve mentioned anywhere that the reason the state is appealing is because Gary/Frohnmayer won the lawsuit, and the judge actually awarded a damages multiplier because of how egregious the state’s conduct against Mark Long was. Way to be balanced, buddy.

    • Anonymous says:

      That is funny. Thinking that there are people out there that think you appeal your victory so that you can have it overturned and become a loser. Interesting, would that then violate double jeopardy allowing you to appeal your loss… or wait win at losing… lose at winning? not.

    • Anonymous says:

      “That is funny. Thinking that there are people out there that think you appeal your victory so that you can have it overturned and become a loser. Interesting, would that then violate double jeopardy allowing you to appeal your loss… or wait win at losing… lose at winning? not.”

      Long won. The state is appealing the damages. I’m not sure where you got confused.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Stick to economics, Bill. Or go to law school before plunging into an area you know nothing about.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Your headline is so disingenuous! “Bar investigates… alleged bill padding”. They are investigating solely because of your idiotic bar complaint! If you ask me you are dangerously close to libel. I hope they sue you.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Gary and Rudnick didn’t “charge the taxpayers”, they won a case in a court of law. You are an idiot, and a dishonest one at that!

  15. Anonymous says:

    So why are some people so agitated if this is really an ethics complaint without any merit…?

    • Anonymous says:

      Their agitation tends to be a good predictor of getting a bit too close to the truth being uncovered.

    • Anonymous says:

      “So why are some people so agitated if this is really an ethics complaint without any merit…?”

      This is truly stupid logic. I guess nobody has ever lied about you in a way that harmed you?

  16. Anonymous says:

    You would think it is OK if someone filed an ethics complaint against you because they were curious? And print a misleading headline about you? Maybe they don’t care. I certainly would.

  17. Anonymous says:

    The rising temperature suggests that someone has poked into the hornet’s nest. Worse things have been said on this site about the Geller-Rudnick club with much less effect.

  18. Anonymous says:

    I am new to the blog. Looks like I have done more harm than good with my negative opinions about UOM’s tactics. I’m gone.

    • Anonymous says:

      You should have learned by now its ok for UOM to criticize and belittle but when it comes back at him it is not ok in any form, especially from everyone who drinks his kool aid. He is never wrong and never worthy of censure of any kind.

    • UO Matters says:

      He does let people post criticism of him in the comments though, even when it’s anonymous and not particularly interesting or entertaining.

  19. Old Man says:

    For two decades some members of the Administration have chosen to run the University as they saw fit, without proper regard for the opinions and actions of the Faculty. They exploited the fact that the State Board vested authority in the President, which, in the absence of a proper Constitution, allowed them to do whatever, without being held to account. With a proper Constitution in place, UO can expect an M.O. that makes wiser use of the talents of its Faculty. Of course, the tendency for power to be centralized is likely to be with us for as long as we are here, so a watchful Institutionalized News Medium will remain an important factor in retaining meaningful shared governance. Perhaps the Administration will get more respect from this Blog as they earn it. We can all hope and work for that.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Dog congrats UOM

    Wow, defamation by search engine!

    • Anonymous says:

      This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    • UO Matters says:

      Stupid, ad hominem, and unentertaining comments like that above from people who post over and over again as anonymous rather than using a screen name may be deleted.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Any harm associated with HLGR cleaning up their act is proportional to their earlier deceit, no? Better get on that, Sharon.

  22. Anonymous says:

    I suggest you lawyer up.

    • Anonymous says:

      I suggest a “mea maxima culpa” — that will be a lot cheaper than lawyering up. Otherwise, you better have some hefty legal/liability insurance to go with the “lawyer up” recommendation above. As you know the HLGR lawyer hourly rates better than most people…

    • UO Matters says:

      Surely UO’s General Counsel Randy Geller will rigorously defend me against Rudnick and Gary’s blatant attempt to shut down public discussion of a matter of such obvious importance to UO. Right? But I’m working on plan B, just in case.

    • Anonymous says:

      I think he would be conflicted out.

  23. Anonymous says:

    They are either under investigation or they are not. Reporting that they are is not defamation.

  24. The Truth says:

    Being the house law firm for a large public institution must be a pretty lucrative gig. Does UO ever shop around for more effective counsel elsewhere?

  25. Clarence Darrow says:

    HLGR didn’t have much choice about filing this retraction request given that you published your bar complaint. Otherwise they look like they are admitting it’s true. Leave up the post and go for the anti-SLAPP lawsuit.

  26. Anonymous says:

    You need to acquaint yourself with words like “alleged”.

  27. Anonymous says:

    HLRG is not being investigated by the bar. The bar hasn’t ruled yet on whether the complaint has merit. BH’s complaint doesn’t even allege bill padding, it alleges perjury which is a crime. BH doesn’t understand that lawyers charge different rates for different work and this is not illegal. If he had done his homework he would know that. He also states that the AG “agrees” with him. Patently absurd. The AG appealed the verdict in the case, which is pretty normal. BH thinks that because the lawyers listed higher hourly rates in the case than they are charging the UO that they lied to the judge about their rates. The judge ordered a multiplier of their rates because the AG’s conduct was so egregious. None of this has anything to do with scamming taxpayers. Because of BH’s headline, he has caused people to believe that these lawyers are being investigated for a crime. Why wouldn’t they sue? And now BH will say, “If people are protesting it must be true.” And no, I am not in that firm and don’t have any skin in the game.

  28. Anonymous says:

    If this was Kentucky HLGR would be laughed out of court: Probably same in Oregon but might take a little longer.

  29. Anonymous says:

    Barbara Streisand effect. Their point is trivial and just keeps the bill padding issue alive. Dumb.

  30. Anonymous says:

    “… allegations of lack of candor…” Alleged acceptable lawyer-speak? Love it!

    Maybe you should refer to “bill padding” as “sustainable billing”?

    • UO Matters says:

      “sustainable billing” I Love it! Contact me for your free UO Matters coffee cup.

  31. So. . . What happened? says:

    It’s been 2 years. Whatever happened to your bar complaint against the lawyers? (You linked to this in your most recent post- about more allegations of defamation on UOMatters part.) Curious how it resolved?

    • uomatters says:

      Denied! Gary and Rudnick got nearly $1M from the taxpayers for defending Stan Long in the Cylvia Hayes case, in part thanks to a letter of support from UO GC Randy Geller. Then their law firm hired Geller.

  32. So. . . What happened? says:

    Never mind. Your complaint was dismissed that August because there “was not a scintilla of evidence of wrongdoing.” A waste of Bar resources!