Legal Ethics

Ga. Lawyer Ordered to Pay $10K Legal Bill In Contentious Municipal Case

In the latest chapter in a contentious litigation saga over a commercial building dispute, a Georgia lawyer has been ordered to pay $10,000 in legal fees for the city of Marietta.

Richard Capriola is the seventh attorney to represent Waleed Jaraysi in the hard-fought battle over a partially completed multi-story wedding hall at 555 Commerce Avenue, reports the Marietta Daily Journal. Jaraysi was ordered to pay another $37,500 in legal fees to the city.

They have 30 days to appeal the Nov. 7 order by Cobb Superior Court Judge Adele Grubbs.

It concerns a dispute that dates to 2005, when Jaraysi got a permit to build an 8,700-square-foot building. The city stopped work on the project late that year, when it discovered a nearly 25,000-square-foot building was being constructed.

Settlement discussions between the parties last year resulted in a ruling several months ago by Grubbs that Capriola had violated attorney ethics rules against ex parte discussions with represented parties by meeting afterward, along with his client, with Councilman Philip Goldstein, who is also an attorney, at a local Krystal restaurant to discuss the case. City Attorney Doug Haynie complained after he spotted the trio as he stopped at the drive-thru lane shortly after a meeting between the city council and Capriola adjourned, recounts an earlier Marietta Daily Journal article.

“[T]his was not a councilman meeting with a constituent over constituent issues,” wrote the judge. “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.”

The article about the recent award of legal fees doesn’t include any comment from Capriola or Jaraysi and notes that a federal case has also been filed by the businessman over the real estate dispute in the Northern District of Georgia.

Haynie tells the newspaper he intends to seek reimbursement of the city’s legal fees in that case, too. The city had sought $120,000 in reimbursement this time around, but Haynie seemed happy with the $47,500 awarded, the Daily Journal reports.

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