SMOC defendants can ask 20 questions Wednesday, January 23, 2008
D. Craig MacCormack 508-626-4429 Metrowest Daily News
FRAMINGHAM - Defendants in the federal discrimination lawsuit brought by the South Middlesex Opportunity Council can each submit up to 20 questions related to the charges in the case to the social service agency by March, said Judge Douglas Woodlock.

In a meeting yesterday in U.S. District Court in Boston, Woodlock also said each defendant will be allowed to seek depositions from up to 10 people as they prepare for the case, filed by SMOC in October.

Jeffrey Robbins, the Boston lawyer hired to defend the town officials, called Woodlock's decision to allow defendants to submit up to 20 questions "an interesting wrinkle."

SMOC lawyer Howard Cooper and SMOC spokeswoman Jane Lane had no comment on the first major court appearance in the case.

Defendants include Town Manager Julian Suso, Human Services Coordinator Alexis Silver, three selectmen, four Planning Board members, and four Town Meeting members.

Lawyers for Town Meeting members Cynthia Laurora, Laurie Lee and Steven Orr filed motions to dismiss the charges against their clients last month. Other defendants are expected to file similar motions by Feb. 1.

SMOC recently agreed to allow the defendants to file motions to dismiss of up to 40 pages, double the typical 20-page maximum. Responses will be up to 40 pages as part of the agreement to double the motion length.

South Middlesex Opportunity Council dismissed all charges against Delmar Avenue resident Harold Wolfe and Patricia Road resident Anthony Siciliano last week. The defendants list also includes up to 10 so-called John and Jane Does.

The lawsuit charges the defendants with engaging in "a coordinated effort" to discriminate against disabled people by limiting SMOC's options in opening new homes for its clients.

Fact discovery in the case will start in March and run through January 2009.

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