On Oct. 26, the Marietta City Council met with Jaraysi’s attorney, Richard Capriola, to discuss the possible resolution of a years-long lawsuit over an unfinished building. The Jaraysi affair began in 2005 when he started building a wedding hall on South Marietta Parkway near Interstate 75 that was three times larger than the city had authorized.
The City Council rejected the settlement offer at that Oct. 26 meeting and directed city attorney Doug Haynie to negotiate further. Ten minutes after the meeting’s adjournment, however, Jaraysi, Capriola and Goldstein met at a Krystal to discuss the case. Haynie happened to spot the three there when he went through the drive-thru.
“(Georgia Rule of Professional Conduct 4.2a) prohibits an attorney from having any exparte communication with a represented party, its agent or employee,” Grubbs wrote in an Aug. 6 order. “Richard Capriola violated this ethical and professional standard in meeting with Councilman Goldstein to discuss settlement of this case.”
“Contrary to (Capriola’s) position, this was not a councilman meeting with a constituent over constituent issues,” Grubbs writes. “It was a meeting with a councilman of the city which litigation was active by a lawyer for the opposite side of that case to discuss settlement.”
At the time, Councilman Grif Chalfant called Goldstein’s private meeting with a lawyer and client who were suing the city a betrayal, adding that it went beyond a censure or an ethical violation. Goldstein, an attorney himself, insisted he did nothing wrong.
In her order, Grubbs denied the city’s request to remove Capriola from the case, saying that removing him from the case because of the violation of the ethical standard had to be balanced against Jaraysi’s right to freely choose counsel.
“The only thing left in this case is the city’s request for attorney fees,” Haynie said. “We’re required to file that within 45 days from this order, which we will do.”
Paula Frederick, general counsel for the State Bar of Georgia, said the Bar prosecutes violations of Bar Rule 4.2 at the direction of the Investigative Panel of the State Disciplinary Board.
“In order to prove a violation, there must be evidence that a lawyer representing a client in a matter has communicated ‘about the subject of the representation with a person the lawyer knows to be represented by another lawyer in the matter,’” Frederick said.