Mike Cruz and Joe Nelson, The (San Bernardino County) Sun
Posted: 10/24/2011 02:55:29 PM PDT
SAN BERNARDINO — A Superior Court judge on Monday declined to bar more than 2,000 pages of Grand Jury transcripts in a criminal corruption probe from being used in a civil case involving the county and three other public entities.
Attorneys representing the county filed a motion with the court in September attempting to block the defendants in an indemnity lawsuit from using the transcripts in its defense. The county sued San Bernardino Associated Governments (SanBag), Caltrans and the city of Upland in 2004, seeking to recover any damages that could arise from a separate land rights lawsuit it was engaged in with Rancho Cucamonga developer Colonies Partners LP.
The developer sued the county in 2002, arguing the county abandoned its flood control easements and refused to pay for flood control improvements on its 434-acre residential and commercial development in Upland. The county settled with the developer in November 2006 for $102 million, a settlement prosecutors now say was tainted by bribery and conflict of interest.
A protective order by Judge Michael A. Smith covering certain documents in the criminal case stemming from the county’s $102 million legal settlement with Rancho Cucamonga developer Colonies Partners LLP. in 2006 does not apply to transcripts from Grand Jury proceedings in April, Presiding Judge Douglas Elwell said.
“(Smith’s) order simply said nothing about Grand Jury materials,” Elwell said.
Elwell’s ruling makes the transcripts available for use in a separate indemnity lawsuit filed by the county against three public agencies – San Bernardino Associated Governments (SanBAG), the City of Upland and Caltrans – to pay damages associated with storm drain construction that dumped floodwater into the Colonies development in Upland.
But whether the transcripts become admissible at a trial in San Diego County, where the indemnity case is being heard, if there is such a trial, will be up to the Superior Court judge hearing the matter, Elwell said.