Monday, August 22, 2005

County using "retainers" to put lawyers off-limits to the people

Did you know that King County has placed an incredible number of attorneys and law firms on retainer to prevent them from representing citizens in litigation against the county? While on retainer they can't represent anyone suing the county without entering into a conflict of interest.

Got this from an elected county official today. "Most all the attorney firms in the county are on some kind of retainer from the county. It is most amazing indeed."

Don't know what that's costing us here in King County, but I've just submitted a PDA request to find out. Certainly doesn't sound like a very worthwhile use of taxpayer dollars to me, does it?

Don't even have to ask what they're afraid of, because we all know.


Joe said...

I am curious if this is standard practice by other large counties or if King County is alone in this extremely questionable strategy. I also wonder if there are any stats on the amount of firms under retainer before Sims began his reign and how many are under retainer today.

Mike Costello said...

I know this is a practice of large corporations as well. It's an economic strategy to pay a few pennies today to keep strong law firms out of the picture. But is it ethical, to retain firms solely for the purpose of denying others the opportunity to challenge what you're doing? I don't believe it is, and especially when government is doing it to shield itself from the consequences of its questionable acts.