Something slimy slithers into court
Allegations of government threats in secret meeting
Published: February 14, 2012
One thing Scales said he did tell Turner is this: It would be in the company's best interests to comply with the judge's orders.
He saids he also suggested that the company "think outside the box" in order to break up the logjam existing between the company and MDOT, and that one way for that to occur would be for the company to use its opposition to the NITC bridge as a bargaining chip.
Scales said he has no recollection of the duty-free shop coming up in the conversation.
Asked if he thought the allegations were an act of desperation on the part of the bridge company, Scales declined to answer.
What he did say about claims that he initiated the meeting, and that he was there both to deliver a threat as well as promises of a reward if the company backed off opposition to the publicly owned bridge, is this:
"I'm deeply saddened and very disappointed these allegations were made. They are not true."
Reached by phone last week, Turner didn't want to talk. Curiously, he did say he wasn't aware of what exactly was being claimed in the court filing — even though he's among the bridge company lawyers named on the document's lead page. It was another lawyer who signed a sworn affidavit attesting to the truth of allegations being made.
Otherwise, Turner referred questions to Godfrey Dillard, the bridge company's new lead attorney on the case. We contacted him by e-mail, but he just directed us back to Turner.
We tried Turner again on Monday, sending him an e-mail pointing out that, according to the Michigan Rules of Professional Conduct governing lawyers, if an attorney has knowledge that another lawyer or judge has committed a serious ethical violation, the incident has to be reported to either the Attorney Grievance Commission or (in the case of judges) to the Judicial Tenure Commission.
The only exception is privileged information exchanged between an attorney and his client.
So, we asked Turner, did these so-called threats allegedly made by Scales on behalf of Judge Edwards ever get reported to either of those bodies?
He provided what we can only describe as a cryptic reply:
"There is no sworn testimony cited in the disqualification motion to support the allegations therein regarding Attorney Scales implicating Judge Prentis Edwards, Sr., and/or his son, Judge Prentis Edwards, Jr."
And then he added: "Today I formally withdrew as counsel for DIBC."
This is serious. The professional reputations of both Edwards and Scales have been called into question in a document that is now a matter of public record.
If Turner and other lawyers for the bridge company were aware of anything that smacked of ethical violations on the part of the two, they were duty-bound to report them.
Remember, the alleged shakedown reportedly occurred more than six months ago.
For what it's worth, we are more inclined to believe the version of events offered by Scales.
The notion that Edwards and the governor would sit down and work out a deal this shady, and then bring in Scales to be a part of a scheme that relies on what appears to be extortion and bribery in order to compel the bridge company to give up its opposition to a publicly owned span, seems so far-fetched that it approaches the ludicrous.
It's more likely that Scales met with a friend for what he thought would be a private conversation, and offered some advice. And then someone from the Moroun legal team took that information and twisted it into something that appears truly nefarious.
But our opinion doesn't count much here.
What matters is what the Attorney Grievance Commission and the Judicial Tenure Commission have to say.
We do know this much: Someone is clearly in the wrong. Either threats were made and not properly reported, or false information was presented to the court.
Either way, the allegations need to be thoroughly investigated.
Attorney Reginald Turner (l) at a court hearing last month with his now former client Matty Moroun.
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