Looking for a Lawyer

I recently wrote my attorney, asking for an estimate or a referral regarding getting a court order to examine voting RTAL tapes.

Wednesday, I heard back from my attorney.  This is what he said:

Hi Beth,

I actually just took a job in Kansas City and will be leaving ______ in the next week or so.  We have already been referring out a lot of work because we are so backlogged and I’m trying to close out several open matters before I leave so I’m sorry but we can’t take on this matter.  I’d provide a referral if I could but, as you said, what you want to do is rather unique so I can’t even think of a good referral for you right now.

Best of luck with your project and Happy Holidays!!

Thursday I spent some time browsing the courthouse web site.  Based on docket fees and filing fees and miscellaneous other charges, it looks like a minimum cost to get a court order is in the range of $200. This does not include any attorney fees.

I called the number for information about what forms would be needed, what court I would need to file them in, etc.  They referred me to the Election Commissioner’s Office.  I explained to the nice lady that had answered the phone that I had already talked with Sandra and she didn’t know the answer to that question.  So she had me talk to Dawn in the Election Commissioner’s office. Dawn didn’t know either. She took my number and went to find out.  When she returned my call, she told me that she had been instructed that they were not allowed to give out legal advice.  I should contact an attorney. I told her about my attorney’s note.  She suggested I call the County Clerk’s office.  I pointed out that they had directed me to her.  She suggested I call them again.  I did.  They still had no clue.  When the nice lady there put me and hold and asked whoever they ask about such things, the response I got was they were not allowed to give out legal advice.  I should contact an attorney.

Later, I spent some time looking up attorneys on the Internet.  I finally picked one and called him.  He suggested I contact the Kansas Attorney General’s office because they are the organization with the power to subpoena records.  He also said that they would likely want a protective order as well, meaning that I would have to swear not to disclose them. It hadn’t occurred to me that it would be two separate orders, but I don’t know much about the details of our legal system.

Actually, I’d like to obtain permission to publish those records, or at least the one’s I’ll end up using in my audit.  They are divorced from any association with individual voters other than being one of the nearly 1,000 people who showed up and voted at that polling station on that date. Probably better to wait and ask for that later if it seems helpful or appropriate.  At any rate, data confidentiality is not an unusual request, so that should not be an issue.

The lawyer indicated a lawsuit would need to be filed in order to request the court order, so that there was a purpose to attach to the request.  I started to take offense, saying that I could have a purpose without a lawsuit, but he described it as a non-hostile lawsuit.  He’s the first person I talked to who didn’t sound completely bewildered by my request and he seemed to have a clue how to go about it.  But this just sounds more and more expensive.  I’ll call the A.G.’s office or email them tomorrow, but I suspect that without a complaint, they won’t be interested.