Democracy Has Prevailed.

March 25, 2014

Uh-Oh. (Ex-) Mayor Luke's Computer.

In case you missed it, here's the a follow up to something the OPJ posted a few days ago:

First from The Tribune-Review:
UPMC wants to know whether former Mayor Luke Ravenstahl removed evidence from his city-issued computer related to the city's legal battle with the hospital giant over its nonprofit status, according to a motion UPMC filed in federal court on Monday.

Ravenstahl took his work computer home before leaving office and kept it for about 10 days, which UPMC said might violate an order Ravenstahl signed in December agreeing to preserve evidence in the city's case against UPMC.
News reports “strongly suggest that Mr. Ravenstahl may have destroyed data from his computer during the week and a half that he took it home. His counsel has failed to provide any reasonable assurance that no such destruction occurred,” UPMC states in its filing with the U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh
For some background, we turn to The Post-Gazette:
Monday's court filing from UPMC is part of the health system's lawsuit against the city and Mr. Ravenstahl, filed last April in federal court. The suit claimed the mayor's office and the city violated the health giant's civil rights.

UPMC's suit came in response to the city's own March 2013 lawsuit against UPMC, a legal complaint that questioned the health system's nonprofit status, which gives UPMC significant property tax exemptions.

As part of its own case, UPMC asked for "limited discovery" of Mr. Ravenstahl's data and documents before he left office, a request that was denied by the case's presiding judge, U.S. District Court Judge Joy Flowers Conti.

The court did, however, enter a "preservation order" that "obligated the parties to use their best efforts and take all appropriate steps to preserve evidence that might be relevant to this case."

In Monday's court filing, UPMC attorneys said the health system is concerned that the November preservation order, signed the following month by the mayor, may have been violated when Mr. Ravenstahl took the computer home with him.
Apart from this whole computer mess, I want you to ponder the last sentence of that first paragraph:
The suit claimed the mayor's office and the city violated the health giant's civil rights.
Ok.  Yea.  That part.

But in fairness, in our system of justice everyone's entitled to a vigorous defense and so on.  And as part of Ravenstahl's vigorous defense there's this from the attorneys who are representing him  From the P-G:
"All I can tell you is that this is an overreaction," said Ronald D. Barber of Strassburger McKenna Gutnick & Gefsky, the firm that is representing the mayor and the city in the UPMC civil matter.
And, let's face it. That might actually be true.  But then there's this from the Trib:
Ravenstahl could not be reached. His attorney, Chuck Porter, said nothing was destroyed.

“He didn't trust the city administration, and there's no sinister reasons here,” he said. “Nothing was removed, nothing was deleted, no evidence has been destroyed. And that's the reality.”

He declined to answer questions about why Ravenstahl took the computer.
At this point feel free to go back to Maria's posting.  But again, let's face it.  It's completely possible that nothing was deleted, nothing was removed and so on.  Let's let the process play itself out.

An extremely important part of this story is found here in the Trib:
Peduto's office declined to comment.
And here in the P-G:
Mr. Peduto's office had no comment on the UPMC filing.
Good. Good.  GOOD. They should stay non-commenting and let the process move forward.

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