Traverse City Record-Eagle

Archive: Sunday

January 26, 2014

Meijer records a topic in probe

TRAVERSE CITY — Motions filed by Meijer, Inc. to intervene in a misconduct hearing for its former attorney prompted questions about what information the retailer might want kept out of the public eye.

Meijer officials on Jan. 15 filed a motion to intervene in a disciplinary hearing for ex-Meijer attorney Timothy Stoepker that’s scheduled for Jan. 30 in Grand Rapids. Meijer attorneys filed the motion after the state Attorney Grievance Commission sought billing records from Stoepker’s law firm Dickinson Wright PLLC for work Stoepker performed for Meijer in 2005.

The grievance commission is investigating allegations that Stoepker lied during a lawsuit deposition when he denied knowledge of Meijer officials’ involvement in a 2005 election campaign in Acme Township.

Meijer’s motion states the billing records contain confidential, attorney-client communications that should not be released. As an alternative, the motion asked the hearing panel to review the documents under seal and close the hearing to the public if or when the records are discussed.

Meijer’s efforts to keep review of the documentation behind closed doors suggests the company doesn’t want the general public to fully know what went on behind the scenes during several contentious years last decade in Acme Township, a critic contended.

“Clearly, they are trying to hide something, based on their degree of panic over this grievance hearing,” said Denny Rohn, president of the citizens group Concerned Citizens of Acme Township. “Their panic only keeps raising flags for the rest of us who wonder what they might be hiding.”

Attorney billing records typically list the date and time work was done for a client and briefly describe the type of work, who was involved, and the topic. The records are fairly general, said Robert Edick, a state deputy grievance administrator who is prosecuting the case against Stoepker.

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