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Reader RedSoxFan wrote:

Paul, your argument doesn’t hold up so well if you were to swap out “city attorney” for “district attorney.” Dumanis’ “client” is the people, but you’ll find plenty of people who could apply the following excerpt from your post to the position of DA: “The current arrangement has resulted in millions upon millions of taxpayer dollars being expended without the authorization and approval of any client. It seems to me an attorney should consult with his client more than once every four years at the polls.”

You are absolutely right; the District Attorney represents the “People of the State of California.” Prosecutors are a different animal. Although the city attorney does have a criminal division, the discussion here is over the civil division, which represents the City of San Diego.

Reader Omini-Potent wrote:

Paul- attorneys can represent themselves- be their own “client” under the MRPC. Your example of Leach is a different ethical violation altogether. You remind me of the type of boob that thought long words and a nice smile were all “one” needed to be a successful attorney. This City is sleeping- the Mayor tossed his attorney/client privilege out the window and admitted, in documents posted on his website, knowing a landslide was going to occur at least one week before Oct. 3 The City Attorney client question may be difficult, but at least he keeps the Mayor in check. Good thing there aren’t Model Rules for other elected officials, eh Paul?

You are correct. An attorney may (although generally considered unwise) choose to represent him or herself. However, I think you make my point, when the city attorney appears in court, he not representing himself but the city of San Diego. As for the Lerach example, the point was to illustrate how seriously the courts take the attorney-client relationship, nothing more.

Reader Larry wrote:

Paul Cooper? The Voice of San Diego has reached a new low.

You may be on to something!

Reader Billy Bob Henry wrote:

Actually Paul, you are WRONG on a number of points. 1-the client does NOT make all substantive decisions, in fact in a criminal case the LAYWER makes ALL substantive decisons regarding trial strategy, even if it DIRECTLY contradicts the clients wishes. 2- Bill Lerach has NOT been sentenced to prison, and there is NO guarantee he will be, it is the SOLE discretion of the trial judge to impose sentnce. Learch has not been sentenced, in fact Lerach’s law license is still active- look it up on the Bar web site-you’re wrong again. Here is what I would do if I were you, I would go back to law school, retake crim law and procedure, then advise your client Chief Lansdown that if he AGAIN REFUSES to serve a lawfully commanded order from a Superior Court Judge, he will be tossed in the slammer- obstruction of justice-look it up-P.C

First, the discussion here has not been about criminal procedure, but rather what is the proper role of the city Attorney in representing the city of San Diego. That said, even in the criminal defense setting, I would argue that the client does make virtually all substantive decisions such as whether to plead guilty, accept a plea deal, whether waive time, whether to appeal, etc. Trial strategy generally does not include substantive decisions, but when it does, it is up to the client, i.e. whether the defendant should testify is a trial strategy and the client again makes that decision.

Second, with respect to Mr. Lerach, I attach the following AP report from his plea today in Federal Court.

William Lerach, a former partner at a prestigious New York law firm, pleaded guilty Monday to conspiracy for his role in a scheme to bribe people to become plaintiffs in lucrative class-action lawsuits.

Asked by U.S. District Judge John Walter how he would plead to the charge, Lerach answered, “Guilty, your honor.”

Lerach, 61, pleaded to one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice and making false statements.

The plea deal also calls for him to forfeit $7.75 million to the government and accept a sentence of one to two years in prison.”

— PAUL E. COOPER

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