Depositions have begun in a case stemming from a lawsuit filed in December against the city of Killeen by former Finance Director Barbara Gonzales.
The depositions — or oral testimonies given outside of court — will play a key role in the lawsuit, which is expected to go to trial in early 2014, Gonzales’ lawyer, Bill Aleshire, said.
After the testimonies are recorded in writing and signed by the witness, the certified statements can be used as evidence in the trial, Aleshire said.
“It’s an official way for both parties to find out what a witness knows,” Aleshire said.
Gonzales, who was fired in December, sued the city in March under the Texas Whistleblower Act. Her lawsuit claims she was fired for reporting violations of state and local finance laws by Killeen City Manager Glenn Morrison. The city has denied the claims. Gonzales is seeking between $200,000 and $1 million in compensatory damages from the city.
Another former Killeen employee, John Acker, also filed a whistleblower lawsuit against the city in December; however, he dropped the lawsuit in June because of a lack of funds.
As of Thursday, Killeen Executive Director of Information Technology Donald Fine and Gonzales finished their depositions on the Gonzales case, Aleshire said.
IT department employee Lluvia Garcia, Killeen City Auditor Amanda Wallace, Killeen Police Chief Dennis Baldwin, KPD Commander Margaret Young and Executive Director of Public Information Hilary Shine are scheduled for depositions.
Morrison’s deposition has not been scheduled.
Aleshire and Waco lawyer Stuart Smith, who was hired to represent the city, also agreed to depose Sheryl Mess and Steve Niemeier, the auditors who performed the city’s 2011 external audit.
Gonzales’ lawsuit hinges on a set of comments attached to the 2011 certified annual financial report, which allegedly outlines 11 financial processes in the city that are noncompliant with state finance law.
The Brockway, Gersbach, Franklin & Niemeier accounting firm has refused to comment on the case.
Aleshire said no settlement is on the table, after the city attorney denied a previous proposal.
“We haven’t submitted another settlement and we don’t plan to,” Aleshire said.