Coffin Trial Timeline

February 2 - City of Atlanta Agrees to Settle Lawsuit

Tom Coffin's lawsuit against the City of Atlanta has been settled with a significant monetary award and restoration of pension benefits.

The City does not admit liability in the settlement, and the agreement must be finally approved by the Atlanta City Council, but ultimately Coffin will have his pension benefits fully restored as if he had not been terminated and he will also be paid $165,000 in damages and fees.

January 31 - Trial Will Not Happen

There will be NO trial starting tomorrow.  We expect more news soon and we expect it to be positive.  Meanwhile, the clock is still running... but time us up!

January 27 - Trial Logistics

The trial will be held on February 1 before Judge John Goger in Courtroom 8A, Fulton County Superior Court, 185 Central Ave SW (corner of Central Ave. and Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr.,), across from the Underground parking garage on MLK Drive.

Tom Coffin's case is first on the docket, with jury selection beginning at 9 am.  The jury selection process is expected to be completed before noon, with opening arguments immediately after.  People who do not want to view the jury selection -- which is part of the "courtroom drama" -- should plan to come in late morning or early afternoon to catch the opening arguments and start of testimony.

Coffin's testimony will probably take most of Tuesday afternoon and go into Wednesday, followed by the witnesses called by Coffin's legal team .  We expect that the City will be able to present its case starting Thursday, followed by Coffin's rebuttal (which may include more witnesses), closing arguments and instructions for the jury.

Judge Goger has a reputation for running a tight courtroom and moving things along quickly, so we expect that he will push to finish the trial by Friday afternoon.

January 18 - Pre-Trial Hearing

The pre-trial hearing before Judge Goger today was short and uneventful, with no change in the trial scheduled to begin February 1, 2011. The most interesting comment came from the Judge, who mentioned the number of green shirts present in the courtroom during the Summary Judgment hearing, saying that they clearly indicated public interest and support and showed that "your client" (speaking to Coffin's attorneys) was probably an "active and upspoken" person who would fit the profile of a "whistleblower."

January 4 - Judge Goger Denies City's Continuance Request

Keeping to his word that the Court would not be considering "further requests for extensions absent extraordinary cause", Judge Goger denied a December 31, 2010 request from the City to delay the trial.  The trial is scheduled for February 1, 2011.

2010

November 17 - Trial Postponed to February 1, 2011

When the Court issued its final, no-more-extensions court date earlier this week, a previously approved leave of absence for one of Tom Coffin's attorneys was overlooked.  The trial date has now been rescheduled for February 1, 2011.

November 15 - December 7th Set As Trial Date

Fulton Co. Superior Court Judge John Goger has set December 7 as the trial date for Tom Coffin's whistleblower suit against the City of Atlanta.  The Judge states in the order that "The Court will not consider further requests for extensions absent extraordinary cause."

The time of the trial on December 7 was not on the order, but will be published as soon as we know. We assume that the first day will be spent in jury selection and not open to the public.

November 10 - City's Motion for Summary Judgement Denied

On November 10, 2010 Superior Court Judge John Goger denied the City of Atlanta's Motion for Summary Judgment on Tom Coffin's claim that the City of Atlanta had violated Georgia's whistleblower statue... Read More

October 19 - Continuance Granted

On Monday, October 11, the City of Atlanta asked for a continuance of Tom Coffin's whistleblower lawsuit until such time as Judge Goger rules on their Motion for Summary Judgment. On Tuesday the judge granted their motion, canceling the pre-trial hearing set for this Thursday and removing the case from the October 19 trial docket.

August 6 - More Delays

At the rescheduled hearing, August 6, on the City's Motion for Summary Judgment in the case of Tom Coffin's whistleblower lawsuit, Judge Goger allowed the City until August 25 to submit a supplemental brief. This action nullified the scheduled pre-trial hearing on August 20 as well as the setting of a trial date in early September. The pre-trial hearing-- which will not be in open court -- is now scheduled for October 14 with a trial date to be set on October 19.

The August 6 Hearing on the City's Motion for Summary Judgment

First on the agenda was consideration of Coffin's Motion to Strike as evidence the City's Investigative Report.  Judge Goger did not issue a formal ruling, but indicated from the bench that the Report could be used as evidence that the City followed some established procedures after the firing occurred, but otherwise, the report is all hearsay and is inadmissible as evidence, as are the conclusions reached on the basis of such evidence.

Judge Goger statements from the bench accord with the position of Coffin's legal team and they expect a favorable ruling.

While the City attorney played pretty fast and loose with the facts in presenting her Argument on the Motion for Summary Judgment, the Judge's questions seemed apropos and focused. We can't imagine that there could possibly be an adverse ruling given that there are simply too many facts in dispute.

Somewhat inexplicably, the Judge allowed the City, at their request, an additional two weeks to amend or supplement their briefs.

About 25 supporters of having Atlanta's Tree Protection Ordinance enforced attended the hearing.

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