The Brown of Renown
The ACLU of Northern California has waded into a battle that prominently features the ever-colorful Willie Brown.
In a proposed amicus brief (.pdf), ACLU lawyers argued against a gag order sought by Brown’s client, Monica Ung, from an Alameda County Superior Court judge. She faces dozens of felony fraud charges after allegedly paying the workers at her construction firm, NBC Contractors, well below the prevailing wage on at least 27 public works projects, as well as defrauding taxpayers.
The proposed gag order shows a “shocking disregard” for First Amendment values, ACLU lawyers Alan Schlosser and Ajay Kundaria argued in the amicus brief. The lawyers also discount Ung’s argument for a gag order based on the notion that Brown has been harassed over his representation of Ung (i.e. through phone calls to his law office that Ung claims were organized one day last August by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 595 and Oakland labor lawyer Ellyn Moscowitz.* Moscowitz had filed a class action on behalf of former NBC workers in 2008, which is currently held in abeyance).
Brown, the ACLU lawyers argued, “must expect that his actions will draw public attention and scrutiny.”
Ung's motion describes a number of "vigilante activities" that the ACLU brief swats down as insufficient reasons to grant the gag order. These activities, according to the brief, include the union and Moscowitz setting up a website, sending out Twitter updates, and encouraging attendance at court hearings.
The motion is before Alameda County Superior Court Judge Roy Hashimoto, according to a news release issued by Moscowitz and the union.
* Update: A press person working with Moscowitz says the attorney was not a party to the phone calls made to Brown’s office, and adds that the class action lawsuit is not held in abeyance. A mediation and a motion for class certification is scheduled for Nov. 13.
— Kate Moser