Saturday, August 30, 2003

Order restricts release of Bengals lawsuit information

By Cindi Andrews
The Cincinnati Enquirer

A Hamilton County commissioner got a temporary restraining order against the county prosecutor's office Friday afternoon in the latest dispute between the two.

The ruling by Common Pleas Judge Dennis Helmick forbids the prosecutor's office from releasing documents to Bengals attorneys relating to Commissioner Todd Portune's taxpayer lawsuits against the Bengals and possible county action against the team.

Helmick will hold a hearing Sept. 5 to decide whether to make the order permanent.

Portune said the documents are confidential attorney-client communications outlining the potential case against the Bengals.

"What the prosecutors were trying to do is the same as the Bengals turning over their playbook to the Denver Broncos before the game next week," he said.

Ongoing disagreements between Prosecutor Mike Allen and the commissioners culminated in them voting 2-1 Aug. 20 to hire their own attorney instead of relying on the prosecutor's office for legal advice. Commissioner Phil Heimlich joined Democrat Portune in saying fellow Republican Allen's office takes too long to issue opinions and has not been responsive to commissioners' needs.

Allen could not be reached for comment late Friday.


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