The Carson City District Attorney's Office is striking back against a lawyer and his client with a lawsuit asking for $3,800 in attorney's fees to compensate for time wasted during an alleged frivolous lawsuit.
Day Williams and Karen Perdue are being targeted in a U.S. District Court lawsuit that says they brought unsubstantiated claims against judges and bailiffs at the Carson City Courthouse.
The lawsuit was filed shortly after Perdue said she was denied her constitutionally protected freedom of speech by being illegally removed while protesting on the courthouse steps in mid-December. She has since dismissed her complaint and plans to pursue the issue with a different lawyer.
Deputy District Attorney Mark Forsberg, who serves as legal counsel for the city, District Attorney Noel Waters and the bailiffs, said Perdue was simply asked to limit herself to protesting during the times that a jury would not be exposed to a leaflet she was handing out. The bailiffs wanted to make sure jurors would not be influenced during the trial, he said.
The office further alleges the lawsuit was abruptly dismissed when it was "recognized that the complaint and the motion were based on facts and law which did not support her claims and might be the subject of Rule 11 sanctions."
Rule 11 states that lawsuits filed for any "improper purpose," such as to cause unnecessary delay or needless increased cost, can be subject to court-ordered sanctions. In one example, the DA's office cites a New York court that ordered a litigant to pay $1,000 in fees to an opposing attorney.
"I've been doing this 18 years and I don't think I have ever filed a grievance against an attorney," said Waters, who is named personally in Perdue and Williams's suit. "The law has been there awhile and it is there to protect people."
Waters said his office believes Perdue and Williams's lawsuit failed to reveal a pattern of violations of free speech rights, which it must in order to be awarded damages.
Perdue says her claims are legitimate even if the wording of the lawsuit was suspect. "I will not be told I cannot protest on the courthouse steps," she said. "I'm pursuing this as aggressively as they resist telling the public the truth."
Williams was out of town Tuesday and Wednesday and could not be reached for comment.
Forsberg said Williams's frequent litigation against city officials is designed to obstruct the legal process.
"What is disturbing about his attempts is that he tries to tie all of the cases together," he said. "Cases that are seemingly unrelated are all thrown into the lawsuit. There is a constant stream of stuff from him, but there is nothing to base it on."
Several lawsuits are referenced in the dismissed complaint. Ron Weddell, represented by Williams, has been embroiled in lawsuits alleging misconduct against Sheriff Rod Banister and Waters. Jerry Vacarro has alleged land-use misdeeds against the city in a lawsuit, which names Forsberg personally.
Assistant Attorney General Tom Patton has not said whether he will pursue similar sanctions against Williams. He is charged with defending the judges in the case because they are state employees.