Traverse City Record-Eagle

February 1, 2014

Grievance hearing for former Meijer attorney delayed again

Traverse City Record-Eagle

---- — TRAVERSE CITY — A disciplinary hearing to determine if a former Meijer Inc. attorney violated ethics rules again has been postponed so the parties can debate whether to allow the public to view eight-year-old billing records.

The state Attorney Grievance Commission is investigating allegations that Timothy Stoepker of Grand Rapids lied during a lawsuit deposition when he denied knowledge of Meijer officials’ undisclosed involvement in a 2005 election campaign in Acme Township. Meijer officials initially resisted attempts by grievance commission attorneys to obtain eight months of billing records from 2005, but agreed this week to provide the documents under seal.

The long-awaited hearing on the charges scheduled for Jan. 30 was cancelled. Instead, the three attorneys on the hearing panel will decide on feb. 3 how to handle the records once they reach the public hearing stage. A motion filed by Meijer’s attorneys requested the Grand-Rapids area retailer be allowed to intervene in the case to protect its confidentiality; they also asked that the records remain sealed throughout the process. The motion also requested the hearing be closed to the public if the records are going to be discussed.

The panel rejected Meijer’s request to formally intervene, but Meijer attorneys likely will be allowed to address their position during the Feb. 3 hearing, said Robert Edick, a state deputy grievance administrator who is prosecuting the case against Stoepker.

“Having reviewed them I don’t see any confidential communication disclosed in the billing records, so from our standpoint I don’t see any reason to keep them under seal,” Edick said. “We will see Monday what the objections are.”

If the panel finds Stoepker guilty of violations, he faces penalties that could include suspension of his law license.