Judge won't dismiss suit over Governor legal fees

Written by: Eileen Jones - bio | email
Posted by: John Shryock - bio | email

MONTGOMERY, AL. (WSFA) - Governor Bob Riley's office is being accused of racism and retaliation in a Jefferson County judge's ruling. In doing so, Circuit Judge Tom King refused to dismiss a lawsuit seeking to for the governor to pay thousands of dollars in legal fees to a Montgomery law firm.

The case goes back to a controversial $13 million no-bid computer contract. When the Legislature's contract review committee was looking into the Paragon LLC. contract, it hired the law firm of Thomas, Means and Gillis. The state still owes the firm $78,000 because the governor's office refused to pay the bill. The law firm filed suit.

Governor Riley's office filed a motion to have the suit dismissed, which the judge refused to do Monday. Although Judge King said he hoped it wasn't true, "The days of political retaliation and institutional racism in Alabama should remain only on the silver screen of Hollywood. The governor of this great state should treat all races and ethnicities equally, be they majority or minority, favored or disfavored."

"I'm a Republican. So, that's no big deal," said Thomas Gallion, the plaintiff's attorney. "Everybody knows that. I think it's because it's a Democratic law firm and they're black. But, I think equally as important is the Governor's office will not apparently come clean on this $13 million no-bid contract."

Governor Riley's office responded to the allegations saying, "This judge previously dismissed the lawsuit because the legislative committee didn't have the legal authority to sue the executive branch in this situation, so there's absolutely no reason why taxpayers should have to pay for it.  The law firm...has been paid more than $8 million during the Riley administration for work on other legal matters, but this lawsuit was brought without any legal authority."

Governor Riley's office said it agrees political retaliation and institutional racism should remain only in the movies.

On September 20, Gallion says he plans to take depositions from four people about the Paragon computer contract and Thomas, Means and Gillis. Those people will include the state's comptroller, finance director, governor's press secretary and the governor.

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