By JOHN M. WYLIE II, Editor
District Attorney Janice Steidley and two top aides have settled a lawsuits which alleged libel against the six individuals who circulated a grand jury petition–later found to be fatally flawed–seeking felony charges and removal from office actions against them.
But the settlement says the only money to change hands would be $25,000 from the defendants to pay the legal fees owed by the plaintiffs to their law firm. Neither the plaintiffs (Steidley,chief civil assistant David Iski and former First Assistant M. Bryce Lair) nor the defendants are required to admit any wrongdoing.
However, while attorney fees will be paid to the lawyer representing the DA and her top aides, no payments will be made to defendants.
“The motivation behind this resolution is a desire to focus on the citizens of Rogers County rather than civil litigation,” according to a clause in the settlement.
The agreement also says none of the parties will say anything disparaging about the other parties in terms of the work, policies or other issues in contention. The cases will be dismissed with prejudice, which means the settlement cannot be appealed and the case cannot be refiled.
Claremore Police Investigator John Singer did not participate in the settlement talks, court records show, and remains the only official defendant in the case.
Lt. Cox and businessman Myron Grubowski are alleged in court documents filed by attorney Joel Wohlgemuth, attorney for Steidley, Lair and Iski, as having agreed to the settlement but then reneging on its terms.
Grubowski had filed no legal documents on the issue at the end of the day Friday, but Cox filed a pleading which said that the mediators–prominent Claremore attorneys Stratton Taylor and Sean Burrage–”advised Officer Cox and Singer that four of the defendants had reached a settlement, that Officer Cox would simply be dismissed, and that Officer Singer would remain as the sole defendant in this action.” in the matter.
Chad Nuens, attorney for both officers, said Cox and Singer had never been provided an opportunity to settle and that both should be awarded their attorney fees. Nuens said Cox had never reneged on any settlement agreement since he had never made an agreement that could be reneged upon.
“Officers Steve Cox and John Singer respectfully request that plaintiff’s Motion be denied and that both plaintiffs and their counsel be sanctioned for their misrepresentations to the court,” Nuens’ motion says.
The settlement filings mark the latest developments in a spate of action in the four cases–three state and one federal–involving the ongoing war between law enforcement officers, led by Singer, and DA Steidley over policies in criminal cases in the 12th Judicial District, which includes Rogers, Mayes and Craig Counties.
Earlier this month, a federal judge tossed out all but one section of a lawsuit Singer had filed against Steidley and key aids.
His order outlined evidence in the remaining count that suggested that the remaining count, depicted as an exercise of Singer’s First Amendment rights, actually represented a longstanding vendetta against Steidley which included efforts to turn judges, crime victims, lawyers and law enforcement officers in official classes Singer was teaching against the DA’s office as incompetent, uncaring or worse.