Boynton CRA lawyers want lawsuit trial moved

— A lawyer for the city's Community Redevelopment Agency has asked that if a lawsuit filed by former CRA executive director Lisa Bright goes to trial, it should be held outside of Palm Beach County.

Lyman Reynolds says there's no way to seat a jury that hasn't been exposed to the "exhaustive local media blitz" related to the arrest of her alleged tormentor, Mayor Jose Rodriguez.

In court documents filed last week, Reynolds alleged "a concerted effort on the part of the local media to promote (Bright's) action and to demonize José Rodriguez."

Rodriguez was arrested Jan. 26 and suspended the next day, amid charges he pressured police chief Matt Immler and interim city manager Lori LaVerriere to stop an investigation into his alleged abuse of his stepdaughter.

Reynolds said media attacks on Rodriguez started when Bright sued in March 2011, alleging Rodriguez orchestrated her departure in retaliation for her "rejecting his sexual advances" and reporting him to police.

In the months leading to Bright's September 2010 separation, and then beyond it, her lawyer, Isidro Garcia, repeatedly said it was Bright the media had treated unfairly .

"If anyone has been demonized, it's Lisa Bright," Garcia said this week.

In December, Bright and the CRA agreed to mediation, but sessions have been canceled due to scheduling conflicts.

While Reynolds' change of venue motion mentions "local media" and encloses articles from other outlets, the arguments cite only The Palm Beach Post.

Those cited articles quote from Bright's statements in court documents, interviews with her lawyer, items in the probable-cause affidavit in Rodriguez' arrest and statements that Rodriguez' estranged wife made in police reports.

The motion also cites a Post profile of Rodriguez that ran three days after his arrest and recounts a 2000 arrest for which a DUI charge was deferred to pretrial intervention .

The motion said that while Rodriguez has yet to be convicted of anything, "thanks to the near relentless media coverage, to the public in this county, he may as well be."

In January, a judge rejected a similar move by lawyers for polo mogul John Goodman, charged with drunk driving in a February 2010 crash that sent Scott Wilson's car into a canal, where he drowned. Goodman also cited extensive media coverage .

Garcia said he'll oppose a change of venue and said the court should be able to find a jury that doesn't regularly follow local news.

The CRA board is set to discuss the case in closed session at its March 13 meeting.

Reynolds has not returned calls for this story or previous ones regarding the Bright case.


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