City Atty. Mark Sellers and Peter Turpel of the “Yes! Remove Elois Zeanah” campaign said they will battle an attempt by resident Thomas Humphreys to make them repay more than $36,000 in lawyers’ fees.
“We’re going to fight this tooth and nail,” Turpel said. “Zeanah’s just trying to protect herself and get the whole issue tied up in the legal process.”
Humphreys is asking Thousand Oaks and Zeanah recall organization to pay the fees incurred when Humphreys filed a lawsuit challenging the petition calling for the councilwoman’s recall.
In February, Humphreys’ attorneys persuaded Ventura County Superior Court Judge Joe Hadden to freeze the petition on grounds it did not comply with state and federal election laws.
Sellers indicated the city would oppose the effort.
“We obviously don’t support this, but we’re going to have to look at it and see if it’s justified,” Sellers said.
According to attorney Raleigh Levine, one of the lawyers representing Humphreys, contesting the motion would be foolhardy.
“They’re just delaying the inevitable,” Levine said. “We have the law on our side and fighting this is only going to make matters worse for the city and the taxpayer.”
Levine said any time spent in court trying to enforce the motion will be billed to the city and the recall organization.
Turpel said the motion proves his contention that Humphreys’ suit was a front for Zeanah’s struggle to maintain her council position. He said the 12-page itemized bill detailed legal expenses that included scores of phone calls to Zeanah and her husband.
“If Humphreys is really the one who brought this case to court, then why aren’t there any calls to him?” Turpel said. “I’d imagine that he doesn’t have the slightest idea about what’s going on.”
Humphreys was unavailable for comment.
Levine, however, said the councilwoman had pertinent information relating to the case and had to be questioned.
A hearing is scheduled for July 8 at the East County Courthouse in Simi Valley.