GROVE - A Grove resident who sued the city and lost now faces a bill for court costs.
Last November, a federal judge ruled in favor of city leaders after David Earl Shero sought $1.725 million as he alleged that city officials had violated his constitutional rights.
Shero's attorney filed an appeal to that decision on Dec. 2, 2006. The higher court is still reviewing the case, federal online court documents indicate.
The United States District Court, Northern District of Oklahoma, recently sent the City of Grove a copy of its billing order in the case. A total of $3,719 for court costs plus $660 for court reporter fees has been billed to Shero, according to the order signed by Phil Lombardi, court clerk.
A copy of that bill was included in city council packets distributed for the Jan. 2 meeting. The meeting was subsequently cancelled due to a governor's order that all business cease on that date in honor of the late former President Gerald Ford.
Councilman David Helms has also publicly expressed a desire for the city to attempt recovering from Shero legal expenses incurred in the case.
The differences originated in early 2003 when Shero was denied a copy of pre-meeting packets given to city council members.
Mayor Carolyn Nuckolls allotted Shero only three minutes to air a grievance at council meetings; the time limit routinely varies from one council meeting to another. In Shero's case, Chief Judge Claire V. Eagan ruled that the time limit didn't violate his constitutional right to free speech.
Shero was given pre-meeting city council packets on three separate occasions, then denied one on Dec. 15, 2003.
Denial came from then city attorney Dorothy Parker, who advised city clerk Ivonne “Bonnie” Buzzard to refuse any future requests from Shero for a council packet.
On Jan. 6, 2004, Shero addressed the city council, advising his belief that withholding packets was against the Open Records Act and certain closed-door negotiations regarding the possible sale of the Grove Civic Center were in violation of the Open Meeting Act.
Parker filed a declatory judgment against Shero in Delaware County and the court ruled in his favor to obtain the pre-meeting packets as well as paying attorney fees incurred.
The federal judge ruled that Parker's declatory judgment was merely a forum to resolve the issue and the fact that Parker did so without city council's authorization didn't qualify as violating Shero's constitutional rights.
“A city or county government may be held liable only for constitutional violations resulting from official policies and customs,” Judge Eagan wrote. “To impose municipal liability, the plaintiff must generally show that a pattern of unconstitutional behavior occurred over a period of time.”
Judge Eagan indicated that, while city leaders expressed disdain, it didn't appear they stifled Shero's ability to freely air his concerns via an Internet forum and distribution of flyers. Interviews with the media were cited as an avenue to exercise his constitutional rights.
The court previously held that individual defendants, William “Bill” Galletly, Parker, Buzzard, Nuckolls, Randy Jobe, David Adzigian, Charles Rowe and David Helms have qualified immunity from Shero's claim.
The court also previously dismissed Robert Nold as a defendant after concluding he was not properly served in accordance with the law.