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Eye on Annapolis

The Daily Record's Maryland state government blog

Judge orders Del. Jalisi to be served by mail in payroll dispute

Del. Hasan M. "Jay" Jalisi, D-Baltimore County. (File Bryan P. Sears / The Daily Record)

Del. Hasan M. “Jay” Jalisi, D-Baltimore County. (The Daily Record/File Photo)

A Baltimore County District Court judge has ordered Del. Hasan “Jay” Jalisi to be served via mail after lawyers for the two-term Democrat’s former employee said he was avoiding their servers.

District Court Judge Marsha Russell authorized Jalisi to be served by mail and email after attorneys for Brian Agandi, a former legislative aide to Jalisi, said the delegate was “willfully evading” attempts to serve him in their lawsuit. Those attempts included a text exchange between the delegate and a process server in which Jalisi told the man he would be trespassing if he attempted to come onto the property where he lives.

Agandi is being represented by James Astrachan and Trisha Scott of Astrachan Gunst Thomas PC. (Astrachan leads The Daily Record’s editorial advisory board.)

“It is regretful and in poor style that Delegate Jalisi told the process server he would not accept service,” said Astrachan. “The result is that Delegate Jalisi adds to the cost of this adjudication but does not avoid service. As well, these actions give credence to the allegations against him.”

In a text message to a reporter, Jalisi said “I wasn’t trying to avoid service.”

“As you know, a process server is a private individual and not a sheriff or a bailiff or connected to the court system,” said Jalisi in a text.

Agandi filed suit against Jalisi in June seeking back wages and punitive damages.

Jalisi had agreed to hire Agandi for the 2019 session at a rate of $20 per hour, the lawsuit alleges, despite being told by House Speaker Michael Busch that he was not allowed to hire staff because of complaints that Jalisi bullied, intimidated and belittled his employees and others.

The Baltimore County lawmaker was ordered to attend and complete anger management classes before he could hire staff.

Agandi is seeking $2,670 in back pay as well as punitive damages of $27,379 “for the intentional and malicious acts carried out by Delegate Jalisi” as well as more than $7,800 — treble damages for Jalisi’s violation of state labor and employment laws.

Jalisi, in an email, responded: “Also, while I don’t want to comment on the merits of the case itself at this time, please note that I have been informed by the Speaker’s office that the Maryland Assembly does not allow me to make out-of-pocket payments to anyone for doing legislative work, which Mr. Agandi claims to have performed at my Annapolis office for about 12 days in January 2019 and is now seeking almost $30,000 in compensation,” Jalisi wrote. “Additionally, the manager HR, Brigette Wicklein, met him 3-4 times during the same period in January 2019 and he was informed each time that he was not an employee of MGA and would not be paid.”

A spokeswoman for House Speaker Adrienne Jones declined to comment, citing the pending litigation.

Jalisi was reprimanded by the legislature earlier this year after the Joint Legislative Ethics Committee issued a scathing report detailing Jalisi’s behavior, which included verbally abusing Agandi. In adopting the ethics panel report, the legislature formalized and made public the order that Jalisi not hire staff until he completes anger management classes.

Jalisi declined to comment on the lawsuit in June, saying he had not been served copies.

Scott, an attorney for Agandi, told Russell that they “made good-faith attempts at personal service, but these attempts have proven unsuccessful because Mr. Jalisi has knowingly and willfully evaded service.”

Included in those attempts were visits to Jalisi’s Reisterstown home as well as an office for his property management company. Scott wrote in court filings that the suite number listed for HMJ Management Company LLC in Brooklandville does not exist and the company is not listed as occupying any of the existing offices.

Lawyers for the defendant then hired a second process server — Steve Silver.

Silver, according to court filings, had previously worked for Jalisi’s management firm delivering lawsuits.

Silver went to Jalisi’s home five times between June 30 and July 8.

On July 10, Silver texted Jalisi shortly before 6:30 p.m. asking for a meeting.

“I received a summons for you,” Silver texted, according to court records. “I didn’t want the press to know anything. You were always cool with me, so I’m just returning the favor.”

Jalisi, upon learning the name of the plaintiff, tells Silver he should return the papers and not take the job trying to serve him.

“No need to mess up our relationship for $75 (or) $100 you’ll get for the service,” texted Jalisi, according to an affidavit filed in court.

Silver explained to Jalisi that he believed he had been hired to do the job because of his past relationship working for Jalisi’s company and told the delegate that it’s not personal for him.

“I don’t have a (horse) in this race,” Silver texted to Jalisi. “I prefer to be low key and not loud. Hell, I’ve served my own dentist and I’ve known him for 45 years.”

Silver, in the affidavit, said Jalisi replied that appreciated his discretion but again declined accept the court papers.

“I’m not going to tell you how to deal with your client but, just so we’re on the same page, it would be trespassing if you or your company enters my property,” Jalisi texted, according to the affidavit.

Jalisi, in a lengthy text to a reporter, said he was trying to make Silver “understand that its a conflict of interest if he works for my company and also works for a party opposing me.”

“When he contacted me it was late at night and I was out of my house, and was trying to avoid needless anxiety for my old parents who were at my house at that time and would have been intimidated,” Jalisi said in the email.

Silver said he went back to Jalisi’s home on July 13 shortly before 8 p.m. and found two cars in the garage and a dog barking when he knocked on the door. No one answered.

“I am an elected official and can be served at my office or any number of public or community events; coming to my house without my permission is not necessary,” Jalisi wrote in the email.

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