Waterman Complaint Appeal; Recusal Definiton; New Chair @ 28 Jan 2011

“In the Matter of Ethics Complaint 10-01 Against Barry Waterman”

In response to the Ethics Commission’s Complaint Opinion and Order issued this past December In the matter of Barry Waterman (Case 10-01), Mr. Waterman filed a Petition for Judicial Review on January 4, 2011 with the Queen Anne’s County Circuit Court. Attorney Jeffrey Thompson is representing Mr. Waterman. On January 11, the County Ethics Commission responded to the Circuit Court that it “intends to participate as a party in this action.”  Lynn Knight, Counsel to the Ethics Commission, will represent the Ethics Commission. To date, no brief has been filed by Mr. Thompson, so we do not know the grounds of Mr. Waterman’s appeal.

Ethics Commission’s Clarification of “Recusal”

On December 9, shortly after the Ethics Commission issued its Opinion in this matter, Ethics Matters requested a clarification of “Recusal” from the Commission.  At their January 10th meeting, the Ethics Commission adopted the following:

            The Queen Anne’s County Ethics Commission adopts this clarification of the term “recusal,” which means to disqualify oneself entirely from all aspects of the consideration of the relevant matter.  This includes, but is not necessarily limited to:

·       Excusing oneself from the room whenever the relevant matter is under discussion and whenever any vote of any kind is taken on the relevant matter by a county board or commission;

·       Not engaging in any conversation, informal or casual or otherwise, with any person or persons who are members of the county board or commission;

·       Not engaging in any conversation with any County office or staff member relating to the relevant matter; and

·       Not taking any other action that fairly may be construed as intending to or tending to affect the consideration of and decision on the relevant matter by the county board or commission.

·       Assuring that any actions or conversations with persons other than members or staff support of the county board or commission be in a context in which that person affirmatively takes steps to ensure that the other persons clearly understand that he/she is speaking as a private citizen and not as a member of the county board or commission and that he/she is not reflecting the views of the members of the county board or commission.

 

New Chair of the Ethics Commission Chosen

Also at their January meeting, the Ethics Commission selected member Kendall Ruffatto as the Chairman of the Commission.  Ms. Ruffatto is an attorney who is Executive Secretary of the Attorney Grievances Commission of Maryland.  She has served on the Ethics Commission since 2007.  Ms Ruffatto is suceeding Robert Mueller, who has been the Commission’s Chair for a number of years.  He had announced when re-elected as Chair last year that it would be the last year he would serve in that capacity.  Mr. Mueller, who is both an attorney (formerly with the US Court of Appeals for the Armed Services) and a mediator, will continue as a member of the Commission.  Ethics Matters thanks Mr. Mueller for his careful and thoughtful leadership of the Commission and looks forward to Ms Ruffatto’s tenure as Chair. 


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