Thursday, December 3, 2015

Whose emails: Carmelo's or the HHA's?


That will be decided at tomorrow's motion hearing at Hudson County Superior Court.

To recap, former HHA Executive Director Carmelo Garcia had deleted his emails on his hard drive prior to his departure from the HHA.  That didn't 'erase' them from existence; all emails were recoverable on the HHA's email server- at least 1,000 of them are between Garcia and his personal attorney, Louis Zayas; some of the Garcia-Zayas emails include third parties.

To further complicate matters, Zayas is representing Garcia in a lawsuit which is being defended by the HHA,- Defendants include (3) current and former HHA Commissioners.

So, erring on the side of caution, the HHA's attorney brought this matter of the 1,000 Garcia-Zayas emails before the court before using them in the litigation or releasing them to be OPRAed.  So...

Tomorrow the court will decide whether Garcia's emails, conveyed on HHA servers, are protected by attorney client privilege.

If the court rules attorney client privilege is preserved, the emails are not public record nor can they be used by the Mayor, her husband, nor the HHA Commissioners in their defense against Plaintiff Garcia.

What may be the most important document before the court was drafted by HHA Executive Director Carmelo Garcia  and signed on March 9, 2012: the Hoboken Housing Authority Employee Handbook.


The HHA Employee Handbook is a 34-page manual of personnel policy; rights, obligations, rules and regulations.   All employees of the Hoboken Housing Authority, including Executive Director Garcia, are subject to its rules.

Pages 23, 24 and 25 of the Employee Handbook are the HHA's "Systems Privacy" policy with respect to email, voice mail, computer and Internet usage,  posted in full:


In 2012, HHA Executive Director Carmelo Garcia stripped all presumption any right to privacy, and control over disclosure from employees, "reserv[ing] the right for the HHA to access and disclose all messages sent over its system without regard to content....   "E-mail and voicemail messages, to the extent these systems are utilized, are the HHA's records."

GA's no lawyer, but the HHA Employee Handbook signed and distributed by Executive Director Carmelo Garcia seems clear on the controlling authority over its own records.

13 comments:

  1. Rules ? When did Carmelo Garcia ever follow rules ?
    Remember he thinks he is special.

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  2. GA did you opra request this info which caused the attorney to take this route?

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    1. A gal never OPRAs and tells. Dunno why the HHA attorney filed the motion but it makes sense if they want to use the emails in their case.

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    2. I guess but it sucks someone did not Opra request this info in advance of the court ruling...they might have given the info...

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    3. Did anyone say that?

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  3. Wow - he is a real idiot.

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  4. I demand the release of the emails in the name of transparency....

    Just like my ELEC reports.

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  5. Whether they can successfully protect the Zayas emails, there is NO protection for the rest. I suspect Carmelo's demise and the demise of a few others is sitting on HHA servers in plain sight.

    Beth, Ruben, Mike, Eduardo, Daglian, other board members - ask not for whom the bell tolls.

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    1. And contractors, developers, vendors.... you name it. ANYONE can file an OPRA, not only GA or MSV. These are public docs.

      Thank you Mr. Carmelo!

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  6. Anxiously awaiting coverage of this matter on PolitickerNJ, aka the "all-Garcia, all the time" news site. Oh wait, that was only when he needed to plant stories during the campaign.

    I'm not a lawyer, so dumb question: is the HHA guideline for internet usage legally binding, just because they have it as an organizational policy?

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    Replies
    1. Great question. If it is legally binding, then the judge has an easy job today. IMO (and I'm not a lawyer, either) it is legally binding.

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  7. Since the HHA is a Defendant, you can assume they already have ALL of the emails (Zayas and non-Zayas ones).

    Defendants can enter ALL the emails as exhibits in a motion(s), though already public docs because they are "HHA records."

    Read the Handbook!

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  8. We dont know how much email Garcia sent from his desktop. I'm not a techie... if he sent emails from his phone or laptop on a wireless connection, would those be on hha servers too?

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