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A few words from our General Counsel, Herschel Sigall, Esq.

July 2012

 

The office of the General Counsel oversees the legal well being of the Ohio Trooper Organizations.  These include Ohio Troopers Coalition (OTC), Ohio State Troopers Association (OSTA), Ohio State Trooper Retirees Association (OSTRA), Troopers for a Safer Ohio (TSO), Ohio Troopers Caring, Cop/s Armament & Apparel, Inc. and the Political Action Committees (PACS).

 

We have many irons in the fire that present legal issues and potential legal problems. It is the responsibility of the office of the General Counsel to be prepared to prosecute on behalf of, or defend, any of our corporations in court or before any agency, should the facts merit that action. However, it is a greater, and often more difficult, mission to avoid litigation. By correctly assessing problem areas before such areas explode into litigation, we have been able to take the steps to resolve potential problems short of costly litigation.

 

 You may recall that in our first years of existence we experienced involvement in costly litigation.  Additionally as we undertook our early expansion we found it necessary to hire outside legal talent to handle some of the work of the Trooper Organizations.  However, over the past years and to this date, as a measure of our current success, the Ohio Trooper Organizations were not required to spend a single dollar to retain outside legal counsel. This is remarkable when the scope, and breadth, of our business operations are considered.  The Office of General Counsel handled all problems that developed or were potentially on the horizon.   

 

There are reasons for our continuing success.  The primary reason for our continuing success is a small but well integrated group of men and women who comprise the office.  We have two lawyers, Elaine Silveira and myself. To further assist what is in reality our small law firm, we have an administrative staff that consists of Tina Hunt, Ramona Young and Melinda Shields.  It is true that we share these administrative personnel with the other aspects of the Trooper Organizations business, but they are available to us and we do in fact make good use of their talents. Additionally, we have three Investigator/Staff Representatives; Robert Cooper, David Riley and Jeremy Mendenhall who do much of the preparation for our arbitration cases. 

 

Over the course of over a decade working together Elaine and I have been able to forge an excellent, necessary, and very successful, working relationship. We work together in sync with the absolute minimum time or effort lost in administrative bureaucratic communication.  As the lawyers for the Trooper Organizations we both have a great deal of responsibility and I believe that we meet that responsibility with a near seamless blend.  I believe our success is borne of mutual trust and years of working together.

 

Beyond the administrative and logistical support for our legal affairs office, there is the field staff of Investigator/Staff Representatives I named above. These men are essential to the function of the General Counsel in the successful prosecution or grievances and arbitration cases.  They comprise the investigative branch of the General Counsel’s Office.  It is hard to overestimate the importance of the work of our Staff Representatives to the success of our office.

 

They are involved nearly from the minute a potential problem becomes a grievance or threatens discipline. They handle pre-arbitration investigations; administrative investigation interviews; on the scene Use of Force inquiries; Pre-Disciplinary Hearings, to name a few areas of many.  They are not simply the eyes and ears of the organization but the process by which fact is sifted from allegation.  They are more and more called upon to offer an assessment of the problem and a view as to a potentially favorable resolution.

 

I have absolute faith in their commitment to any task they undertake for the office of the General Counsel and know with absolute certainty that Elaine and I could not ask for better investigators. We have been very successful in our arbitration cases. We have returned many members to active service who saw their careers wrongfully terminated.  Our success leans not only upon our own merit as trial lawyers but equally upon the investigative work of our field staff. We come to trial not simply well armed to make the case, but better armed than our opponents.  Our pre arbitration investigative reports are superior and could serve as a model for others to emulate.

 

The President of the Oho State Troopers Association (OSTA), Trooper Larry Phillips and Sergeant Jeremy Mendenhall are release. A release person is available to us for input on a daily basis. He is a valued resource in investigation, review, planning and presentation of our arbitration cases.  He as well is a valued resource for both knowledge and understanding of the OHPRS and its impact upon our retirees.

 

Whether it is contract compliance; SERB courtroom presentation, appellate work, arbitration trials, criminal defense, civil contract negotiation, collective bargaining, or the law of charitable solicitation, this office handles the problem and represents the organizations.  As I noted earlier in this report, we pride ourselves in farming out little or no work to outside counsel. Areas that we are not as knowledgeable as some are areas in which we will become more knowledgeable.

 

Elaine and I can be contacted at the OTC office at 614-781-7686 (Toll Free 800-544-7948) or through email at herschelm@yahoo.comor esilveira@ohiotroopers.org.