Jan. 9 letters to the editor

Jan 08, 2017

School attorney responds to lawsuit comments

To the editor:

I am responding to a recent statement of Mr. Mark Melrose in the January 2, 2017 edition of The Mountaineer. I am writing this letter pursuant to Rule 3.6(c) Trial Publicity, of the North Carolina Rules of Professional Conduct for Attorneys. In response to Mr. Melrose’s extrajudicial statement with its implied position of the School Board; he did make a written offer by letter dated September 20, 2016 to settle the case he filed against the Haywood County School Board. On behalf of the School Board, I responded with a written counteroffer dated September 21, 2016, and to which no written response has been received.

Regarding his statement about the school board continuing to incur legal costs; the legal costs incurred, and to be incurred after Mr. Melrose’s claim for preliminary injunction was dismissed, will not be paid by the school board, but another entity at no expense to taxpayers.

Patrick U. Smathers

Haywood County School Board Attorney

Editor’s note: An internet search provided the specific wording of the rule referenced above.


(a) A lawyer who is participating or has participated in the investigation or litigation of a matter shall not make an extrajudicial statement that the lawyer knows or reasonably should know will be disseminated by means of public communication and will have a substantial likelihood of materially prejudicing an adjudicative proceeding in the matter.

(b) Notwithstanding paragraph (a), a lawyer may state:

(1) the claim, offense or defense involved and, except when prohibited by law, the identity of the persons involved;

(2) the information contained in a public record;

(3) that an investigation of a matter is in progress;

(4) the scheduling or result of any step in litigation;

(5) a request for assistance in obtaining evidence and information necessary thereto;

(6) a warning of danger concerning the behavior of a person involved, when there is reason to believe that

there exists the likelihood of substantial harm to an individual or to the public interest; and

(7) in a criminal case, in addition to subparagraphs (1) through (6):

(A) the identity, residence, occupation and family status of the accused;

(B) if the accused has not been apprehended, information necessary to aid in apprehension of that person;

(C) the fact, time and place of arrest; and

(D) the identity of investigating and arresting officers or agencies and the length of the investigation.

(c) Notwithstanding paragraph (a), a lawyer may make a statement that a reasonable lawyer would believe is required to protect a client from the substantial undue prejudicial effect of recent publicity not initiated by the lawyer or the lawyer’s client. A statement made pursuant to this paragraph shall be limited to such information as is reasonably necessary to mitigate the recent adverse publicity.

(d) No lawyer associated in a firm or government agency with a lawyer subject to paragraph (a) shall make a statement prohibited by paragraph (a).

(e) The foregoing provisions of Rule 3.6 do not preclude a lawyer from replying to charges of misconduct publicly made against the lawyer or from participating in the proceedings of legislative, administrative, or other investigative bodies.



Consider this option

To the editor:

A few suggestions for those that are so opposed to the plans put forward by President/Elect Trump. Let’s make the changes optional.

If you like your tax rate you can keep it. If you like your Obamacare cost, you can keep it. If you like your stagnate wage, keep it. If you like your business strangled by regulations and taxes great, enjoy it! Volunteer your job to be sent to Mexico. If you want your neighborhood flooded by illegal invaders bringing your property value to drop by 50 percent, go for it. How about having your wife and daughter raped and killed by radical extremist muslims. All this sound good? Don’t plan on saving me a place in your protest.

Bruce Gardner