Supervisor Frazier ‘entitled to representation’

Your article of June 13, 2019, “Supervisor Frazier racks up hefty legal bill in suit he’s ‘not a party to’” showed a serious lack of diligence in seeking and fairly reporting the current state of events. Mr. Frazier is subject to the court’s jurisdiction because of a subpoena served on him by County Attorney Arthur Goff in connection with Bragg I. Mr. Frazier retained Offit Kurman because Mr. Goff decided not to furnish Mr. Frazier necessary legal representation in responding to the subpoena. Virginia Code Section 15.2-1520 provides in part: “Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary … a locality, or political subdivision of such locality may employ … other counsel approved by the governing body to defend … any member thereof … in any legal proceeding to which the governing body … may be a defendant, when such proceeding is instituted against it … by virtue of any actions in furtherance of their duties in serving the locality or political subdivision …” This language plainly specifies that Mr. Frazier, as a member of the Board, is entitled to representation in legal actions in connection with his official duties, particularly in a case such as Bragg I. Mr. Goff’s conflict of interest representing Mr. Frazier, and then acting adversely to him in his official capacity triggered his need for the county to provide outside legal counsel.

As it turns out (a fact you did not report), the county already has paid one legal bill of $595, thereby effectively approving the law firm and acknowledging a portion of its obligations. In addition, before and after that payment, Mr. Goff made inappropriate public threats to Mr. Frazier, requiring a legal response and incurring many of the costs Mr. Goff objects to in the comments you have published. Mr. Frazier, as your readers may know, was positively acknowledged by the Virginia Supreme Court for raising the possible impropriety of the Bragg I Supervisors meeting. That meeting was held to discuss, ironically, the employment of legal counsel for the county. Mr. Frazier’s motivations in his official duties are protected, a concept Mr. Goff should have been aware of before he sought to pursue Mr. Frazier through a subpoena.

Under Virginia Code Section 15.2-1245 et seq., when an amount is owed by the locality, the potential applicant must submit a “claim” for Board of Supervisors review. Our firm submitted a reasonable claim for work caused wholly by Mr. Goff’s subpoena and his aggressive and unnecessary attacks on Mr. Frazier. Accordingly, Mr. Frazier submitted Offit Kurman’s charges for representation. If the Board refuses to pay the claim pursuant to Mr. Goff’s recommendations, the matter may be appealed to the circuit court. If the Board denies the claim, Mr. Frazier likely will appeal the decision to circuit court for a review more objective than Mr. Goff’s.

In short, Mr. Frazier’s courage and actions in Bragg I should be applauded and not become subject to repeated inappropriate and public attacks by Mr. Goff. Mr. Frazier should be permitted to do his job as Supervisor without further provocations. This will reduce the conflict and the legal fees for everyone.

Mark Moorstein
Principal Attorney, Offit — Kurman®
Tysons Corner

Editor’s note: The letter writer is a personal attorney for Rappahannock County Supervisor Ron Frazier. A story expanding on the accusations leveled in this letter against this newspaper and Commonwealth’s Attorney Art Goff, and his response, begins on Page 1.

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