The law firm retained by the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office in June to stop a grand jury from being impaneled billed the county $12,839 between June 11-24, records show.
McDonald, McCann, Metcalf & Carwile billed the county for 53 hours of work during those two weeks, according to an invoice obtained Tuesday by The Frontier.
The nearly $13,000 price tag will not be the total final cost. The firm argued in front of the Oklahoma Supreme Court on July 15 and was present in Tulsa County District Court through at least late July.
Meredith Baker, TCSO general counsel, said Tuesday afternoon said other invoices will be provided once they are reviewed, redacted and submitted “for payment with our accounts payable staff.”
The firm’s legal efforts were ultimately futile. A grand jury was impaneled and has met multiple times over the past two weeks.
The investigation was sought by We The People Oklahoma, a grassroots group who launched in Tulsa last year, but came to prominence following the April 2 shooting of Eric Harris by reserve deputy Robert Bates.
Bates, who became a reserve deputy in 2008, is an insurance executive and longtime friend of Sheriff Stanley Glanz. He has donated to the sheriff’s re-election campaign and has given vehicles and gear to the sheriff’s office.
Those weren’t the only revelations that came to light following the April 2 shooting, in which an unarmed, tackled Harris was shot by Bates on a north Tulsa street.
A leaked TCSO Internal Affairs document showed that as early as 2009 multiple supervisors within TCSO expressed concerns that Bates lacked proper training and was acting outside of the scope of the reserve deputy program.
Bates, who was classified as an “advanced reserve,” was essentially autonomous, able to act as a full-time deputy without supervision whenever he wanted.
Bates was charged with second-degree manslaughter for the Harris killing, and numerous high-ranking TCSO officers have resigned, been fired or have been re-assigned in the fallout.
On June 19, We The People Oklahoma turned in more than 6,000 valid signatures of registered Tulsa County voters seeking a grand jury investigation of TCSO.
The petition they signed outlined a number of factors they wanted the grand jury to investigate, including whether Glanz had acted inappropriately as sheriff. The group had offered to halt the signature-gathering process if Glanz, who announced he would not seek re-election in 2016, would resign.
Instead, Glanz hired the law firm to represent him in a battle to halt the grand jury. And the hiring did not come without protests.
Citizen groups, upset that taxpayer money was being spent to fight a taxpayer-sought grand jury investigation, attempted to speak to Tulsa County Commissioners at two public meetings, but were denied because the agendas for those meetings did not denote time for public comments.
Eventually Tulsa County Commissioner Karen Keith held a public forum, where more than a dozen citizens expressed concerns about the county funding Glanz’s fight. Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler had recused his office from representing TCSO, but citizens asked why the sheriff’s office wouldn’t use Meredith Baker, its general counsel, or Terry Simonson, another lawyer, to argue on behalf of Glanz.
Eventually the Tulsa County District Attorney’s Office offered an opinion to county commissioners that public money could be used to hire an outside firm.
In a similar matter, Wagoner County Commissioners last week declined to contract with outside attorneys sheriff Bob Colbert sought to retain for a legal battle there. Colbert is being investigated by the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation for allegations of financial misconduct.
The invoice sent to the county by McDonald, McCann, Metcalf & Carwile shows the firm began work June 11, a full week before the signatures were turned over by We The People Oklahoma to the Tulsa County Election Board.
The invoice is largely redacted, showing only the date, rate and hours of each service provided.
The redactions provide only a glimpse at what work was done. Under “Description of Services,” most of each sentence is blacked out, meaning only things like “Meeting regarding,” or “Telephone call with,” visible.
“Legal billings containing legal strategy, work product privilege, and attorney/client privileged items will be redacted,” Baker said.
John J. Carwile billed the county $9,911 for 37.4 hours of work. James P. McCann, who argued in front of the Oklahoma Supreme Court as the sheriff’s office attempted one last Hail Mary pass at stopping the grand jury, billed the county $2,252 for 8.5 hours of work.
Two other attorneys billed the county $675.50 for 2.7 hours of work.
The contract between McDonald, McCann, Metcalf & Carwile and the County said that work done by the firm would be billed at between $165-$265 per hour.
Marq Lewis, who founded We The People Oklahoma, called the $12,839 price tag a “slap in the face.”
“Once again, it’s a continual excess of funds being wasted,” Lewis said. “I know (the county commissioners) wish they had that money back.”