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Columbia County News

County Attorney Candidate Foreman Ethics
Another Claim of Foreman Non-Disclosure
Sheriff Hunter Silent

"I had no idea... Now it all makes sense."

Posted August 23, 2014  09:15 pm

COLUMBIA COUNTY, FL – From at least November of 2010, through March of 2012 when Third Circuit (Lake City) Court Judge, Paul S. Bryan, filed for bankruptcy, Joel Foreman was representing Judge Bryan as his estate planning attorney. The Codes of Judicial Conduct and Professional Responsibility require the recusal of a Judge who is being represented by an attorney, who is appearing in front of him, and the attorney to advise the opposing party that he is the judge's attorney. After reading the Observer article, County Attorney Candidate Joel Foreman: Ethics Questions Surface, Thomas "Will" Miller stepped forward with the same complaint: Attorney Joel Foreman did not disclose.

Related article:
County Attorney Candidate Joel Foreman
Ethics Questions Surface

Joel Foreman, candidate for Columbia County, County Attorney has claimed in recent court filings and to the Observer that he has made all the necessary disclosures regarding his relationship with Judge Paul S. Bryan.

"I had no idea... Now it all makes sense"

Late Thursday morning, August 21, the Observer spoke with Thomas "Will" Miller.

The Observer asked, "Did Joel Foreman ever tell you that he represented the judge?"

Mr. Miller responded, "I didn't know anything about it until I read the article. No clue."

Observer: "How did you feel about it after you read it?"

Mr. Miller: "I'm extremely aggravated."

Observer: "Do you plan to do anything?"

Mr. Miller: "Yes. I'm going to do as much as I can possibly do to try and at least get 50-50 custody of my kid."

Mr. Miller continued, "There was some hinky stuff that went on. Georgia Chamberlin [the defendant represented by Joel Foreman], she called the judge – spoke with him on the phone personally after the court was closed."

Observer asked, "How do you know that?"

Mr. Miller answered, "She told me."

Observer: "She told you that she spoke to the judge?"

Mr. Miller: "Yeah. When we went back for our next hearing, my lawyer brought that to attention and said 'that weren't right – that we wanted him recused.' The Judge said no, while Joel and Georgia snickered at me."

The Observer asked, "Who was your attorney at that time?"

Mr. Miller responded, "Stephen Johnson."

The Observer asked, "Did you have a Lake City Attorney?"

Mr. Miller answered, "No. I got an attorney from Gainesville because of the good old boy situation in this area. I had no idea that Joel represented Judge Bryan. Now it all makes sense."

Sheriff Mark Hunter: What did he know?

On August 2, 2010, Columbia County Sheriff Mark Hunter retained Joel Foreman "to perform legal services on behalf of the CCSO and Sheriff." (Employment Agreement between the Columbia County Sheriff's Office and Joel Foreman)  One of the services provided by Mr. Foreman was services, "relating to forfeiture proceedings, including file review, meetings, and litigation."

It was Mr. Foreman's duty, when appearing in front of Judge Bryan to inform the defendant of his relationship with Judge Bryan. It was also Judge Bryan's duty to inform the defendant(s) that he was being represented by Attorney Foreman.

On August 15, 2014, at the County 5 budget work shop, your reporter, in a note handed to Sherriff Hunter, asked if Mr. Foreman had revealed his relationship with Judge Bryan to him and if he knew whether or not Mr. Foreman revealed his relationship with Judge Bryan to the defendants in the forfeiture cases where he represented the Sheriff.

The Observer requested a response from Sheriff Hunter via email. The Sheriff did not respond.

 

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