Claremore Daily Progress

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April 17, 2014

Judge refuses to dismiss Grubowski in DA suit

Steidley’s husband replaces Tulsa law firm in libel cases


A judge has denied businessman Myron Grubowski's motion to remove him from the defamation lawsuit filed by District Attorney Janice Steidley against sponsors of last fall's unsuccessful citizens petition for a local grand jury investigation of her  office.
Judge Carlos J. Chappelle issued the ruling Wednesday after meeting  privately in his courthouse chambers with Grubowski's lawyer and attorney Larry Steidley, who represented his wife in the proceeding.  
Grubowski said he was not allowed to participate in the session.
In another development in the case, the Tulsa law firm that had been representing Steidley in her suit against the petition sponsor,  and in a separate libel lawsuit against The Claremore Daily Progress, filed court papers withdrawing from both proceedings.
A companion filing by Larry Steidley said he would now represent his wife as legal counsel in the pending cases.  
She had been represented principally by attorney  Joel L. Wohlgemuth of the law firm of Norman Wohlgemuth Chandler & Jeter.
In that capacity, Steidley issued a subpoena to Rogers County Court Clerk Kim Henry to produce all electronic correspondence sent or received by her office to the defendants in the petition sponsors lawsuit.
Also, the subpoena asked for any correspondence to or from the news media and DA Steidley's Republican  opponents, Erin Oquin and Matt Ballard, in the upcoming primary election.
Larry Steidley had made open records requests earlier for the information, but Henry declined to comply with them  upon advice from the state attorney general's office. 
he said she is in contact with that office with regards to the subpoena.
Normally, the county court clerk would be represented in legal matters by the district attorney; but since  Janice Steidley is a plaintiff in the libel complaints, the attorney general represents the clerk.
DA Steidley filed her lawsuit against the grand jury petition sponsors in October  2013, shortly after a judge rejected the petition containing more than 7,700 voter signatures on the grounds the names were obtained on unauthorized forms.
Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt then stepped in and submitted the accusations of misconduct in the petition to the state or multicounty grand jury. 
It has yet to complete its inquiry into the matter.

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