Thursday, July 30, 2009

Tim Coley's Allegations of Falsified Documents Appear to be Unfounded

Tim Coley has made accusations that our outside counsel (Frank Jenkins) falsified records regarding certain Planning Commission minutes. I asked Frank Jenkins to investigate the allegations, and explain. Here is his response:

Dear Bob:

I want to set the record straight; there were no falsified documents filed by the city of Albany in the Coley Musgrove suit challenging the denial of a subdivision plat. The suit was filed by Coley Musgrove and the civil action number is 06CV2990-2. The following account may be verified by looking at the file on record with the court.

Coley Musgrove appealed the planning department’s denial of the subdivision plat application to the Albany Dougherty Planning Commission. The first hearing before the Planning Commission was conducted on November 2, 2006. The Planning Commission, upon hearing the appeal, upheld the planning department’s denial. Coley Musgrove then filed a suit for mandamus to the Dougherty Superior Court requesting that the court order the issuance of the permit for the proposed subdivision.

On January 11, 2007, the superior court held the first hearing on the case. At that time Coley Musgrove moved the court to grant the mandamus on the basis that they had only two days notice of the Planning Commission hearing which was not sufficient time to prepare. Note that Mr. Coley was present at the November 2nd Planning Commission hearing, but he was not represented by counsel. The court did not rule at the hearing and allowed additional time to file the record of the proceedings before the Planning Commission and any other documents deemed appropriate. Both the city and Coley Musgrove were allowed to file documents.

On February 1, 2007, the city filed the record of the preceding before the Planning Commission. In that record filed with the court are the official minutes of the Planning Commission hearing on November 2nd which were approved by the Planning Commission at its meeting in December 2006. The minutes start on page 4 because that’s the first page on which the Coley Musgrove appeal is mentioned. There were other matters in the minutes regarding other appeals. These minutes are accurate and are the actual minutes approved. In addition to the minutes, we filed a verbatim transcript of the hearing before the Planning Commission. The transcript was prepared from the tape recording of the hearing. (I previously sent you a copy of the record including the transcript filed with the court.) The first item is the verbatim transcript of the Planning Commission hearing which was certified by Elizabeth G. Kelly, assistant city clerk. The transcript is accurate and reveals exactly what happened at the hearing. It should be noted that Coley Musgrove’s attorney sent a letter to the court requesting that the court consider the transcript in making its decision in the case.

I filed a brief with the court on January 25, 2007, in response to Coley Musgrove’s contention that they did not have sufficient notice of the hearing before the Planning Commission. With that brief, I filed unofficial minutes which were prepared to give more detail about what happened at the Planning Commission meeting. These were prepared before we had the verbatim transcript prepared. These unofficial minutes accurately show what happened at the Planning Commission meeting. I invite anyone to compare the unofficial minutes with the transcript which will show that these minutes are completely accurate. (I understand there is a contention that there is no transcript of the hearing, but the court file will show that a certified transcript was prepared from the tape recording of the hearing.)

The court entered its order on February 12, 2007, ordering the Planning Commission to conduct another hearing on the subdivision plat appeal since the court found that Coley Musgrove had not been given enough notice of the first hearing. The Planning Commission again denied the appeal after the second hearing. Ultimately, the trial court found in favor the Coley Musgrove and ordered the city to grant the subdivision plat permit.

There was never any falsified document filed with the court, nor were any minutes of the Planning Commission falsified to mislead the court. I stand by the record now on file with the court. The minutes filed with the court may be compared with the verbatim transcript to confirm the accuracy of all documents filed with the court.

Thank you for your attention to this matter. Frank Jenkins

Our website can now be found at:

Frank E. Jenkins, III, Esq.
Jenkins, Olson & Bowen, P.C.
15 South Public Square
Cartersville, Georgia 30120-3350
(770) 387-1373
Fax (770) 387-2396

24 Drayton Street, Suite 1000
Savannah, Georgia 31401
(912) 443-4049
Fax (912) 236-7250


tim coley said...

Now, the facts. My claim has always been that Frank Jenkins submitted minutes with his brief that had been changed after they were officially adopted. I never claimed to know who did it. However, based on conversation with Planning Director Mary Teter, I now know Frank Jenkins directed Teter's department to make the changes to the minutes after they were officially adopted. I stand by may claim and offer the following as support.

In an email to Bob Langstaff regarding officially adopted minutes that Mary Teter indicates Frank Jenkins directed her to change, Frank Jenkins states
"Bob, this is just more smoke from Coley; the record shows that the court had at its disposal the transcript of the actual hearing and a copy of the official minutes". This statement by Jenkins is true. But it does not justify Jenkins instructing Planning Director Teter, as she confirmed, to change the officially approved minutes and "inadvertently" submit them with his brief. Jenkins admits in his email "[t}he so-called unofficial minutes were inadvertently filed with my brief ". Why the hell was Jenkins tinkering with the minutes after they were officially approved ?

Jenkins goes on to say "but they were accurate and certainly did not mislead the court". So now Bob thinks it's OK to allow an attorney hired to defend the City's illegal denial of my subdivision application the authority to change the officially approved minutes, "inadvertently" attach them to his brief, and then self report that "they were accurate and certainly did not mislead the court". I guess I shouldn't be surprised.

Even if Jenkins's assertion "that they were accurate and certainly did not mislead the court" were true, changing the officially approved minutes is wrong. The public needs to consider the concerted unethical efforts to deny our property rights in totality before determining Jenkins's intent regarding the changed minutes he admittedly submitted to the court with his brief.

So why would Jenkins change the minutes ? I'll expand on that and the other unethical actions I reference, in detail, in a future email.

Bob Langstaff, Jr. said...

I spoke to Mary Teter via cell phone yesterday. She is on vacation. She confirmed that Frank Jenkins did NOT tell her to change any minutes. No one did. Mr. Coley is wrong.

In the simplest terms I can muster, here's what Frank and Mary say happened:

The Planning Commission uses "summary minutes" much like the Dougherty County Commission does. Those minutes merely recite the basic issue before the commission, that a hearing was held, and how the commission voted. The summary minutes of Mr. Coley's hearing were adopted as the official minutes by the Planning Commission at a subsequent meeting.

Once Mr. Coley filed his appeal of the Planning Commission's denial of his subdivision application, Frank Jenkins asked Mary Teter to have someone listen to the audio tape of the Planning Commission hearing to flesh out what exactly had transpired at the hearing, so he could prepare to defend the appeal. This "fleshing out" was merely designed to aid the attorney in preparing his brief while he waitied on the audio tape of the hearing to be transcribed.

Unfortunately, the secretary who listened to the tape and began fleshing out what was said typed her "fleshing out" into the same word processing document that contained the original summary minutes. Thus, when she finished, her "fleshing out" still bore the title of "Minutes." Confusion could have initially been avoided had this fleshing out occurred in an entirely separate blank document without the title of "Minutes."

As I said, Mr. Jenkins requested that the hearing tape be transcribed verbatim. As this was not something the secretary was used to doing, the assistant city clerk was tasked with that job. That verbatim transcript of the hearing was filed with the court at the request of Frank Jenkins, and that is what both sides agreed the judge should consider in deciding the appeal.

Unfortunately, in submitting his brief to the court Mr. Jenkins erroneously attached not the official summary minutes, but the document which had been erroneously entitled "Minutes" which was merely a partial fleshing out of the summary minutes made by the secretary after she listened to the tape. When opposing counsel pointed out the error, both sides agreed that the verbatim transcript prepared by the assistant city clerk was what the court should rely on in considering the appeal. Again, the verbatim transcript was filed with the court.

Regardless, Mr. Jenkins and Ms. Teter both tell me that there is nothing inconsistent between the minutes that were partially fleshed out by the secretary and the verbatim transcript, other than the verbatim transcript obviously provides more detail. Thus, there was no intent to deceive anyone. The secretary and Mr. Jenkins both appeared to have made honest mistakes.