Broward News

Hospital District Attorney Hit With Bar Complaint

"I didn't come here looking for a job," attorney Sam Goren said May 14 at an emergency meeting of the North Broward Hospital District's Board of Commissioners. In the moments before, commissioners had relied upon Goren's legal counsel in determining that their general counsel, Marc Goldstone, should be fired. Now those commissioners wanted to give Goren that job, at least on an interim basis. He took it.

Now one victim of that sweeping move -- Joe Truhe, the district's former associate general counsel, who was fired along with Goldstone -- has asked the Florida Bar Association to investigate whether Goren has acted ethically and competently in his dealings with the public health care district. This summer, the district's board has been rocked by scandal.

In Truhe's note to the bar, which you can read here, he remarks at how curious it is that Goren didn't bother to check with partners of his Fort Lauderdale firm before accepting this new assignment on their behalf. Further, he finds fault in how Goren counseled the board on the question of resolving Goldstone's bar status, a question he could not have answered impartially if he stood to gain Goldstone's job.

At the next board meeting, on May 27, acting in his new capacity, Goren made his most pivotal legal ruling to date, cautioning commissioners not to send the ethics report alleging potential misconduct by Commissioner Joseph Cobo to the Florida Commission on Ethics unless they had "personal knowledge" of the allegations. This, writes Truhe, was "a total misrepresentation of the law." Based on Goren's advice, the commission instead sent the report to Gov. Charlie Crist's office, which appointed Cobo to the commission.

Truhe, who has sent a letter to the district containing similar allegations and has a pending lawsuit against it for wrongful termination, also took issue with the legal grounds for which he was dismissed and with Goren's seeming failure to disclose conflicts of interest that he admitted only six months before.

An email to Goren seeking comment on the complaint was not immediately returned.

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Thomas Francis