Friday, October 1, 2004

Attorney challenges legal tactics of Allen

By Dan Horn
Enquirer staff writer

Hamilton County Prosecutor Mike Allen and his attorney broke court rules when they demanded information from media outlets about the woman who accused Allen of sexual harassment, the woman's lawyers said Thursday.

Allen sought the information last month when his lawyer, Michael Hawkins, issued subpoenas to The Cincinnati Enquirer and two radio stations seeking notes, audiotape and other material related to media coverage of Allen's accuser, Rebecca Collins.

The subpoenas have since been withdrawn, but Collins' lawyers say Hawkins violated court rules for gathering evidence. They also complain that he continues to skirt court rules by seeking information about Collins through subpoenas in a separate legal dispute between Allen and county commissioners.

"Allen is attempting to gain an improper and unfair advantage in this litigation," wrote Collins' lawyer, Sheila Smith.

Collins, an assistant county prosecutor, filed a sexual-harassment lawsuit against Allen in U.S. District Court in August, an accusation that eventually led Allen to drop his re-election bid and withdraw his name from the Nov. 2 ballot.

Hawkins denies he violated court rules, which set strict timetables for gathering evidence.

"We have an obligation to vigorously defend and represent our client, and we will continue to do so," Hawkins said.

His subpoenas sought notes and tapes of interviews related to Collins' accusations, as well as personnel records from Collins' employment as a news aide and copy editor at the Enquirer in the 1990s.

In her complaint Thursday, Smith asked Judge Sandra Beckwith to sanction Hawkins for breaking the rules and to pay a portion of Collins' attorney fees.

She also asked the judge to order Allen and Hawkins to "cease and desist" all improper tactics.


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