By Dan Moffett
A heated exchange during a deposition hearing has led a lawyer for the town of Gulf Stream to ask for legal sanctions against Martin O’Boyle.
Attorney Robert Sweetapple says O’Boyle physically threatened him while he was questioning Chris O’Hare during a deposition at a Boca Raton court reporter’s office on May 20.
Sweetapple says O’Boyle “jumped up from his seat, lunged at and attempted to provoke a physical fight” with the attorney, according to a motion filed in Palm Beach County Circuit Court.
“Punch me and throw me out, pal,” O’Boyle is quoted telling Sweetapple in a transcript of the session.
Sweetapple is asking the court to bar O’Boyle from attending future depositions and for unspecified sanctions and attorneys’ fees. The attorney says O’Boyle is a “serial litigator” and alleges that last year he also disrupted another deposition related to the one of the many legal cases pending between him and the town.
Sweetapple’s motion accuses O’Boyle of trying “to bully and intimidate” him and said the behavior will inhibit people who are giving testimony from speaking freely.
“This behavior is unbecoming of the judicial process,” Sweetapple wrote, “and such annoyance and undue burden must not be tolerated. Simply put, Mr. O’Boyle’s flagrant misconduct and provocative behavior require that he be sequestered from all future depositions in order to avoid the possibility that next time he does not stop at mere words.”
O’Hare said that O’Boyle, who was attending the session voluntarily, was unexpectedly served with a subpoena and that touched off the argument with the town’s lawyer. O’Hare said he recorded the hearing and turned the video over to Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Peter Blanc.
“I haven’t seen the video, and I can’t comment until I do,” said Elaine Johnson James, a Boca Raton attorney who represents O’Boyle but wasn’t at the deposition.
Sweetapple’s motion also says that O’Boyle tried to disrupt a deposition of Mayor Scott Morgan and to “physically confront” the attorney in March 2014, shortly after O’Boyle lost a race for a Town Commission seat.
In February, the town filed a federal racketeering lawsuit against O’Boyle and O’Hare, charging the two with a conspiracy to exploit the state’s public records laws and extort settlements from the town and other municipalities and organizations.
The RICO (Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organization) suit says the town has fielded more than 1,700 public records requests from the two residents over the last two years.
Jonathan O’Boyle, Martin’s son and a Pennsylvania lawyer who is a director at The O’Boyle Law Firm in Deerfield Beach, was named in the suit for his role in filing hundreds of complaints around the state over public records. Jonathan O’Boyle declined to comment on the sequester motion against his father but said he was hopeful about prevailing against the town.
“I am awaiting the federal RICO case to be dismissed,” he said.
In other business, town commissioners unanimously approved a land clearing permit and special exception for the property at 12 S. Hidden Harbour Drive.
Architect William Wietsma requested permission to clear invasive trees and plants along a 200-foot property line with a conservation area owned by the town.
Wietsma intends to replace them with native species, rebuild the seawall and create an 8-foot path to allow the town access.
O’Hare spoke against the plan during the June 12 commission meeting, arguing that changing the land from its “undisturbed condition” will be harmful to plants and animals that have found refuge there for the last half-century.
O’Hare said in a written complaint to the town that “this land was donated to the residents of the town with the express understanding that it would be maintained as habitat for all the flora and fauna fortunate enough to find refuge within its boundaries.”
Morgan called Wietsma’s proposal “a good deal for the property owner and for the town” that would enhance the land and help conserve it. His colleagues agreed.
Special recognition: Vice-Mayor Robert Ganger and Town Manager William Thrasher were both recognized by the Florida League of Cities with a 2015 Home Rule Hero Award. The award recognizes each of their efforts to advance the League’s legislative agenda and help protect the home rule powers of Florida’s cities during the 2015 legislative session.
By Dan Moffett