Mobile County License Commissioner Kim Hastie is due in federal court at 10 a.m. tomorrow morning to discuss potential modifications to her conditions of her release.
Those conditions are ones federal prosecutors sought to change when accusations surfaced Hastie had used “intimidation” to coax several employees into interviews with her legal team.
Originally scheduled for Tuesday, Hastie’s hearing was pushed back to Wednesday for scheduling purposes, but the U.S. Attorney’s Office took advantage of the extra day to strengthen its motion to modify the conditions of her release.Hastie’s primary attorney Neil Hanley wouldn’t comment on the conditions of release, but his Feb. 23 response to the government’s motion claimed the allegations of intimidation were “exaggerated and misleading.”
“It is true that defense counsel conducted completely voluntary interviews at the License Commission office on a day that the building was closed to the public,” Hanley wrote on behalf of Hastie. “All employees were informed by counsel that their participation was completely voluntary and that Mrs. Hastie would not be made aware of any employee’s participation, or lack thereof.”
But, in today’s response from the federal government, U.S. Attorney Gregory A. Bordenkircher asserted that no legal precedent would give Hastie’s defense counsel the right to conduct witness interviews of License Commission employees in a workplace setting. He went on to say that it was “improper” for her attorney to even enter the government building on a day it was supposed to be closed to the general public.
Bordenkircher also asserted that because of the nature of the employee interviews, Hastie likely had prior knowledge of them, whether she was physically present when they were conducted or not.
Hanley’s Feb. 23 answer also discussed the defense team’s original intent to use the License Commission’s employee database to “acquire certain employees’ email correspondence,” which the U.S. government has said would be inappropriate without first obtaining a proper subpoena through the court system.
However, Hanley called that a “settled issue.”
“The defense broached the issue with the Government to avoid unnecessary court intervention; the Government voiced objection,” Hanley said in reference to a Feb. 11 arraignment that local media was prevented from attending. “The defense has had every intention since the conversation with the Government to seek the information through the Court.”
However, Bordenkircher said those records meet the above definition of public records and are “not for Hastie’s unencumbered personal use.”
“Hastie maintains that License Commission employees ‘have no legitimate ownership or privacy interests in’ their government email accounts, yet she neglects to mention that she too is a public servant and that she does not own the accounts,” the government’s response reads. “Ownership should not be conflated with custody, which Hastie may have with respect to License Commission records given her position as Commissioner.”
Prosecutors again referenced a “culture of intimidation” Hastie is alleged to have fostered in her office, which has been part of the prosecution’s general theme since the initial indictment was first issued.
However, the recent court filings also focused heavily on what the government believes is the “use of public resources for (Hastie’s) personal gain at the cost of Mobile County.”
Heading into tomorrow’s hearing, the motion filed today again requests the court prohibit Hastie from conducting any further witness interviews of her employees at the License Commission or during the office’s business hours. The government has also asked that Hastie and her legal team be bared from accessing any employment records without first issuing a subpoena.