Judge Tosses Steve Collins' Lawsuit Against County
September 21, 2012
Dismissing former Monterey County Water Resources Agency director Steve Collins' defamation lawsuit against the county as "a smoke and mirrors dance," Judge Roger Randall tossed the $25 million complaint on Friday afternoon.
Attorney Mark Wasser represented the county in arguing Collins' suit was a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation or SLAPP, meaning it would effectively of silence and interfere with public participation. County Counsel Charles McKee says the basis of Collins' lawsuit included newspaper quotations made by county supervisors, and such statements are entitled to free speech protections.
"This anti-SLAPP motion is designed to do nothing more than shut me up," Collins said.
He filed a 116-page response to the county's motion, arguing county officials knew he was being paid by RMC Water and Environment, a consultant with a $28 million contract on the Regional Desalination Project.
Collins cited a 2010 conference call in which he says county attorneys acknowledged his RMC deal. "He has said the same thing now three times: 'I have some evidence, but it's not here,'" Wasser said in court Friday. "The best he can do today is talk about a telephone conference which he was not a party to."
As evidence, Collins offered to play a tape of a call with Curtis Weeks, the former MCWRA general manager, allegedly proving Weeks knew about helped cover up county knowledge of the RMC deal. Randall declined hearing the tape.
Collins says he won't appeal the decision, but plans to pursue another civil complaint against the county in federal court. He represented himself in the Monterey County Superior Court case.