Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Our SMC Public Records Request and Ex Parte

Hello Everyone!

Sorry I have been out of the loop on the blog, but I have been behind the scenes and in the trenches as it were, fighting for our rights under the California Public Records Act. Below is a recent email I sent to my attorney, Edward Y. Lee, regarding our exasperated attempts to obtain inspection and copies of documents belonging to Santa Monica College. As a friend told me yesterday, "If you fail to stand for anything, you will fall for everything." With this in mind, I fight on for myself and for all of us.

Des Manttari
Phoenix Genesis

(c) 2005: Phoenix Genesis/MBS LP

--------------------MY EMAIL TO MY ATTORNEY-----------------

November 8, 2005

RE: Martin B. Schapiro Exodus Trust, et. al. vs. SMCCD, et. al.

Dear Ed,

As I indicated to you, I want to send a letter and fax to Attorney Joshua Morrison outlining our recent failed attempts to obtain long outstanding public records owed to us for inspection and copying which belong to Santa Monica Community College District. As you know, I submitted my first request for documents on or about July 15, 2005, then a second request on or about Aug. 15, 2005 and then a third request on or about Sept. 29, 2005 (received Sept. 30th).

We have two other requests which were submitted on or about Oct. 24, 2005. To date, there has been no written objection to the production and inspection of these last two requests, yet we have not been provided copies, inspection opportunities, or even any cost analysis. Nothing. As you are well aware, under the CPRA, inspection is immediate. If the district wished to deny inspection or copies, they had 10 days to do so, in writing. They failed to do that. We have had nothing but excuses upon excuses and endless delaying tactics.

However, they have done one thing proactive in this matter and that is to willfully, maliciously, and deliberately retaliate against me, other students who have accompanied me, and Professor Jim Keeshen. Since I have attempted to obtain public records, the school, by and through AET Dean Katharine Muller, has taken away first two, then three classes from Prof. Keeshen (his storyboarding class and both History of Animation courses), made his life a living hell in his workplace, and blackmailed him to write a highly defamatory and untrue letter against me alleging that I committed a felony despite his many protests to SMC administration and my documentation of the blackmail and the falsity of the allegations against me.

Not only has the district, by and through its employees, retaliated against Professor Keeshen and myself by depriving us our respective jobs teaching the History of Animation ground and online courses, but they have repeatedly infringed on any rights either of us had to the intellectual property for this course and any material created by Jim Keeshen Productions, Inc. and Phoenix Genesis/MBS LP. Specifically, SMC has uploaded unauthorized and modified pirated webpages to their server at
http://smconline.smc.edu which infringed on my copyrights. As recently as October 16, 2005 and continuing to around October 18, 2005, SMC once again placed the infringing webpages on the smconline.smc.edu server despite the fact that their attorney, Mr. Morrison had stated that they would not further infringe on my work.

Meanwhile, SMC concealed two websites which we requested in writing through the CPRA to deprive us from inspection despite the fact that we had provided them with a demand to preserve documents and evidence. Once they instructed us in writing (pretending to comply with the CPRA) that they could not verify the existence of these websites, they went ahead and placed these websites back online.

Additionally, the district, by and through its employees, have filed numerous charges against me, other students at SMC, and our process server, by and through the Santa Monica Police Department. All these charges, like the charges mentioned above, are unfounded and highly inflammatory and done for the express purpose of frustrating our legitimate goal of obtaining our rights to inspection and copies of documents belonging to SMCCD under the California Public Records Act.

Most recently, attorney Christopher P. Fields and I went to obtain public records belonging to SMCCD from Vice President of Planning and Development Robert Sammis on or about October 31, 2005. As you are aware, Mr. Sammis had written that these documents would be available at 11:00 a.m. on that date. Therefore, based on this written promise, we took the time to travel to the Academy of Entertainment & Technology to pick up the documents. However, once there, Mr. Sammis told us we had to leave or else we were "trespassing" and refused to provide us with documents.

As both the attorney for the district and as self-designated point person for Santa Monica College, he should have kept his promise and delivered these documents belonging to the Academy to us. By doing so, Mr. Sammis allegedly violated Rule 5-220 of the Rules of Professional Conduction re: "Suppression of Evidence" which states, "A member shall not suppress any evidence that the member or the member's client has a legal obligation to reveal or to produce." Since we had requested these documents from Dean Katharine Muller regarding SMC's satellite campus, the Academy of Entertainment and Technology (AET) on or about September 29, 2005,

Sammis had a duty to comply with the law under the CPRA. Instead, not only did he not comply with the law, but his associate from his former law firm, Attorney Joshua Morrison went so far as to threaten to file charges against Attorney Fields with the State Bar of California and to file charges against me with the District Attorney's Office, charges which were patently groundless. In doing so, both Sammis and Morrison allegedly violated Rule 5-100 of the Rules of Professional Conduction re: "Threatening Criminal, Administrative, or Disciplinary Charges" which states in subsection A, "A member shall not threaten to present criminal, administrative, or disciplinary charges to obtain an advantage in a civil dispute." These blanket threats were clearly to frighten and harass us in order to gain an advantage in the current civil matter.

Again, Sammis promised to produce documents on November 7, 2005. However, no documents have been forthcoming despite the fact that our designated messenger, Steve Drury, went to the AET campus at 11:15 a.m. and waited for approximately a half hour. Again, I went to pick up documents with another designated messenger on November 8, 2005. We waited, called your office and spoke with Attorney Fields, and your office spoke with Joshua Morrison who now claims that responsive documents will be available Wednesday, November 9, 2005 at 11:00 a.m. However, given their endless false promises, excuses, threats, and delaying tactics, I am not convinced that any documents will be available.

On or about October 17, 2005, when I asked Katharine Muller if the documents would be available which we served her via certified mail, received September 30, 2005, she responded to me, "You'll get them when you get them." On that same date, I spoke with Dean Muller again and she did not give me any direct answers about either the public records due for AET or about the infringing website they placed on their server. Not only did I not get one single public record from her, it was a huge effort to obtain a business card from her with her contact information so that I could follow up. Again, on October 24, 2005, I went to Dean Muller's office with Dustin Curran and no documents were available for us.

On October 25, 2005, Steve Drury and I went to meet with Lin Caldwell and Adrienne Willis over at President Thomas J. Donner's Office. Again, no documents were there nor was inspection allowed. In fact, Ms. Caldwell confirmed that she "refused to cooperate" with us despite the fact that I was told, along with two other students, that an appointment would be made by her. On that same date, Steve Drury and I went over to the AET building and spoke with the secretary, Edna. Again, no documents were available.

I am now requesting that any and all outstanding documents for all requests be available tomorrow by 11:00 a.m. and that a date be set immediately for inspection. Absent this, I request that we move, as agreed, to go to court Ex Parte on Thursday morning, November 10th.

Very Truly Yours,

Des Manttari

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