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Gerald Orseck

Kirk O. Orseck
-Therese Wittner, RN
Of Counsel
-Sidney Orseck
(1906-1996)

Orseck Law Offices Plk


Attorneys At Law
Est. 1928

All Replies to:


1 Dolson Avenue
Middletown, NY 10940

1924 State Route 52


P.O. Box 469
Liberty, New York 12754

47 N. Main Street
Ellenville, NY 12428

Telephone
(845) 292-5800
-Fax
(845) 292-6749
-E-Mail
OrseckLaw@Yahoo.com

June 19, 2015


Sullivan County Board of Ethics
Sullivan County Government Center
100 North Street / PO Box 5012
Monticello, NY 12701
Re:

Complaint against Bill Liblick dated June 5, 2015

Members of the Board:


On behalf of Bill Liblick, we offer the following Response to the Sullivan County
Board of Ethic Complaint filed against him on June 5, 2015. We request that the Board
dismiss the complaint against Mr. Liblick, because he did not disclose any confidential
documents. In the alternative, we request that Board redraft and resubmit the Complaint,
because it does not currently provide notice as to what acts or omissions of Mr. Liblick
may constitute an Ethical violation.
The Ethics Complaint does not state which Ethical Rules Mr. Liblick may have
violated, and does not state what acts may have constituted an Ethical violation.
The Board of Ethics Complaint has provided no indication of which documents or
information were purportedly disclosed by Mr. Liblick, or why their disclosure might
constitute a violation of the Countys confidentiality rules. The Boards Complain simply
states:
As a County Official, serving as a member of the Charter
Review Commission, The Sullivan County Board of Ethics
alleges that the accused violated Ethics law Section A8A2(c)(1) No County official or Country employee subject to
the provisions of this article shall disclose confidential
information or use such information to further a personal
interest.
These charges do not notify the accused of anything. It is impossible to defend
against a complaint that only states the broad theory under which the accused is to be
prosecuted, and which does not state the alleged acts or omissions of the accused for
which he is to be punished.

Due process rights, such as the right to be properly noticed of charges, arise when
rights to life, liberty, or property are put at risk (See, United State Constitution: Fifth
Amendment and Fourteenth Amendment). It is understood that Mr. Liblick holds no
property right in his position as a member of the Charter Review Commission (See,
Lanza v. Wagner, 11 NY2d 317 (1962)). However, Section A8A-5 of the Countys Code
of Ethics, Penalties for Offenses, states that a person who knowingly and intentionally
violates the provisions of this article may be fined up to $10,000 per occurrence . . . A
$10,000 fine would certainly constitute a deprivation of property rights; accordingly, Mr.
Liblick should be afforded his Constitutional due process rights in this proceeding, and he
should therefore be provided with full and actual notice of the charges that the Board of
Ethics has levied against him.
New York courts have long recognized that the due process right of notice of
charges applies, not only to judicial proceedings, but also to administrative proceedings,
such as this Board of Ethics proceeding. (See, Murray v. Murphy, 24 NY2d 150 (1969)).
And while we recognize that due process rights and notice requirements are somewhat
more relaxed in administrative proceedings, they are not so relaxed as to allow an
administrative tribunal to deprive someone of property without at least notifying them of
what they may have done wrong.
It should also be mentioned that a complaint regarding the Sullivan County Code
of Ethics must inform the accused of rules regarding the conduct of adjudicatory
proceedings, appeals, and the due process procedural mechanisms available . . . (A8A4(2)). However, the complaint merely makes reference to sections 102, 103 and 107.
These sections do not reference any part of the Sullivan County Code or Code of
Ethics, as presented on the Sullivan County website.
We respectfully request that the Board of Ethics redraft and resubmit its
complaint, so that Mr. Liblick might have some notice of what charges are being levied
against him.
The Potosek Letter was not confidential, and its disclosure did not violate the
Countys Code of Ethics
As stated above, the County Ethics Board, in its accusation against Mr. Liblick,
has only baldly stated that Liblick has violated the confidentiality provisions of the
County Ethics Code. It is therefore difficult to determine exactly what element of the
Ethics Code have been allegedly violated, or exactly which documents or other
disclosures constitute the alleged violation. However, for the purposes of providing some
manner of answer to this vague complaint, we will assume that the Board is referring to a
letter from County Manager Potosek to County Legislator Gieger dated March 26, 2015
(henceforth the Potosek Letter), which Mr. Liblick had made reference to on his news
blog The Mouth That Roars on June 5, 2015 the day these ethics charges were
brought against Mr. Liblick.1
1

In his artcle, Mr. Liblick had also mentioned that an Ethics Complaint had been
brought against Legislator Geiger in accordance with the Potosek Letter. However, it
is axiomatic that a person accused of violation may publicly disclose the complaint
made against them, and Legislator Geiger has chosen to do just that. Accordingly, we
can only imply that the Ethics charges being brought against Mr. Liblick arise from his
disclosure of the Potosek Letter.

The Potosek Letter simply states facts and a determination by the County
Manager. It states that the County Manager has received written complaints from two
employees alleging that Legislator Geiger treated them in a hostile manner. The County
Manager then instructs Geiger to make future inquiries to the complaints office through
the County Managers office. The letter does not contain any opinions, deliberation, or an
invitation to discussion.
Section A8A-2(c) of the Sullivan County Code contains the confidentiality
provisions of the Countys Code of Ethics. As demonstrated below, the Potosek Letter
cannot be categorized as confidential under those provisions.
Section A8A-2 (c)(3)(b) of the Code states the categories of information which
the County would deem confidential. Such information includes communications that
would interfere with investigations, adjudications, or negotiations. The Potosek Letter
does not contain any such information. It simply notes that Potosek received two
complaints, and that he enacted a non-negotiable resolution.
Indeed, section A8A-2(c)(3)(a) of the Code (entitled Never Confidential)
demonstrates that the Potosek Letter is not confidential because it is an instruction to staff
that affects the public ((c)(3)(a)(c)), and it is also a final determination made by the
County ((c)(3)(a)(d)).
Section A8A-2(c)(2) states that the confidentiality provisions of the County Code
are intended to be consistant with New York FOIA law, as codified in NY Public Officers
Law 87, and the language of the County statute is substantially similar to the New York
FOIA law. New York Courts have repeatedly held that, in regard to FOIa, government
documents are presumptively open to the public, and therefore non-confidential, unless
they fall within a few narrowly tailored exceptions. (See, Matter of Gould v. New York
City Police Dept., 89 NY2d 267 (1996)) NY POL 87(2)(g) allows the non-confidential
disclosure of governmental communications as long as they are not deliberative
materials. Deliberative materials are defined as communications exchanged for
discussion purposes not constituting final policy decisions. ((Matter of Xerox Corp. v.
Town of Webster, 65 NY2d 131(1985)) There is no element of deliberation in the Potosek
Letter; it simply states facts and a determination. Under NY FOIA law, the Potosek Letter
would be disclosable, and non-confidential.

Summary

In accordance with the above, Bill Liblick respectfully requests that the complaint
against him be dismissed, or, in the alternative, that the complaint be re-drafted and resubmitted so as to comply with Mr. Liblicks due process rights.
Very truly yours,
ORSECK LAW OFFICES, PLLC
By:
KO/mm

KIRK ORSECK