Judge: Marin Law Library Did Not Violate Law When it Fired Ex-Con
An Alameda County Superior Court judge has ruled in favor of the Marin County Law Library amid claims it violated the Ralph M. Brown Act when it fired its previous director.
The events leading up to last month’s ruling are truly bizarre.
In 2012, the library hired a volunteer by the name of Jason Voelker. Voelker, a paralegal, soon moved up to an assistant position and eventually assumed the duties of director. His shimmy up the professional ladder was no surprise. The man had an impressive resume, touting previous legal stints at unnamed “State of California” entities in both Folsom and Jameston.
There was just one problem: those entities were actually state prisons.
As it turns out, Voelker was an ex-con who had served hard time for robbery, assault, false imprisonment and drug charges. The library eventually caught wind of this and, by 2014—after a series of closed door meetings—he was out of a job. Whether he was forced out due to his criminal history, the board would not say.
Enter library patron Bill Hale. He must have really liked the guy because he took Voelker’s exit pretty hard. He filed a lawsuit, claiming the library’s board flouted the state’s open meetings rules in removing Voelker and demanded that he be reinstated. When they refused, Hale allegedly began a “campaign” of harassment against the library’s new director an the board itself.
The case was given to Alameda County Superior Court Judge Evelio Grillo to avoid conflicts of interest and on July 15, he ruled in the board’s favor.
“The Law Library is pleased with the court’s ruling and now looks forward to focusing its efforts on serving the community,” said Deputy County Counsel Sheila Lichtblau. She accused Hale of trying to “unilaterally impose his will” on the board and install Voelker as director.
It should be noted that the board claims it never formally hired Voelker as director in the first place. Nevertheless, a copy of his separation agreement shows they agreed to give him $8,100 and a “favorable” reference.
Not too shabby.
Image Credit: Flickr User sixteenmilesofstring, https://flic.kr/p/p1xbu (CC BY 2.0)