We wanted to follow up on our report Wednesday that City Attorney Mike Aguirre dropped his secondary lawsuit to attack pension deals that created new retirement benefits for employees.

Aguirre’s withdrawal from the case came right after a hearing Wednesday, when a Superior Court judge rejected Aguirre’s request to postpone the lawsuit.

The former pension officials that Aguirre was suing for their alleged part in making the pension deals said the city attorney dropped the lawsuit because he could not defend a countercharge that would have disqualified him from the case.

Five of the seven remaining defendants were also city employees, and they argued that the City Attorney’s Office had a conflict of interest in the case. The City Attorney’s Office represented them with legal advice in the past, they said, and is prohibited from now challenging them in this pension lawsuit.

Aguirre said he wanted to hold off on pursuing the lawsuit until after his primary attack to the pension enhancements was completed. A trial in that case was pushed to next week, and will begin Wednesday.

Aguirre said he doesn’t need the secondary case anymore and would rather focus on the primary case while it is in trial than on the obstacles that remain in his other case.

Attorneys for the defendants said Aguirre dropped the other case because the conflict-of-interest hurdle he faced was too daunting, and that his failed motion to postpone the case was his only hope for avoiding being tossed off by the court.

“Aguirre just didn’t want the bad press of him being disqualified,” said Frank Polek, an attorney for defendant for John Torres, a fingerprint examiner for the city and a former member of the pension board.

For many months, the city attorney included individual defendants in his primary lawsuit – which is now between the city, its retirement system and some municipal unions – but dropped them after they made a similar conflict-of-interest argument against the City Attorney’s Office.

In that case, the individuals were also dropped because Aguirre’s office enlisted the help of the Latham & Watkins while the law firm was also representing them in the police union’s pension lawsuit. The firm’s role in the lawsuit presented another potential conflict of interest, the defendants said.

EVAN McLAUGHLIN

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