The legal team representing Schuylkill County Commissioner George Halcovage responded to a request that he and his attorney be found in contempt of court and ordered to pay legal fees and fines.
Back on Feb. 14, Catherine Smith, the attorney representing the 4 Jane Doe plaintiffs in the sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit against Halcovage and Schuylkill County government officials, asked US Magistrate Martin Carlson to hold Halcovage and Gerard Geiger, his attorney, in contempt of court.
Her request was based on a conversation the Commissioner allegedly had with a witness and former County employee, Paul Straka, at a funeral in Pottsville shortly after one of the Jane Doe plaintiffs was deposed in the ongoing case.
That supposed conversation was about Halcovage’s alleged use of County supplies for his personal insurance business. Halcovage, according to the accusation, allegedly told Straka that his name was mentioned by one of the plaintiffs during her deposition.
Geiger: Evidence is Hearsay
Smith said in her request for Halcovage and Geiger to held in contempt that it was tantamount to witness intimidation.
Geiger, in his answer filed on Feb. 28, dismissed the notion. He called on Carlson to deny Smith’s request. In previous communications between the attorneys, court documents show, Smith dropped her request to have Geiger held in contempt.
Halcovage’s lawyer says all the plaintiffs are offering in this matter is hearsay testimony and it shouldn’t be considered.
Straka apparently has refused to sign an affidavit confirming what he allegedly was told at that funeral. Instead, Smith offered a signed affidavit from her paralegal recounting her conversation with Straka prior to his refusal to confirm the story.
“The standard for deciding on contempt is clear and convincing evidence which plaintiffs fail to meet because they offer nothing but hearsay evidence,” Geiger writes in his argument against the contempt request.
He also says that the alleged hearsay evidence is contradicted by sworn deposition testimony from Halcovage.
“The inadmissible hearsay statement is contradicted by the sworn testimony of Mr. Halcovage, who testified that he never revealed to Straka that his question about County-owned supplies was the subject of deposition testimony,” Geiger writes.
Geiger also addressed Jane Doe concerns that their identities could be revealed. He called them “melodramatic” because of their alleged willingness to speak to the media.
He even cited several Coal Region Canary and Times-News articles in which 2 of the 4 Jane Doe plaintiffs’ identities are revealed as it related to potential terminations from their jobs at the Courthouse.