Tuesday, February 2, 2010
If City Attorney’s Office Is Trimmed by 100 Attorneys…
Trutanich Says Misdemeanor Filings Would Come to Halt
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Los Angeles City Attorney Carmen Trutanich has warned that his office will cease filing any criminal actions if 100 of his deputies are laid off, as provided for in a budget proposal being floated in City Hall.
Speaking Friday at the 22nd annual Metropolitan News-Enterprise “Person of the Year” Dinner, Trutanich, one of three honorees, told the crowd of about 240:
“If this plan is passed, as proposed, we’ll be forced to move our entire criminal branch to the civil branch because we won’t have enough bodies to handle the litigation that’s ongoing right now in the office. In doing this, we’ll lose our ability to file any criminal cases.”
That statement disappointed an expectation expressed a short while earlier in the program by Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich that Trutanich would be taking cases off the county’s hands. Antonovich—who presented scrolls to Trutanich and his co-honorees, Los Angeles County’s District Attorney Steve Cooley and Public Defender Michael Judge—said that “with the new reductions taking place in the courts,” Trutanich will “probably have some more responsibilities.”
He explained that the District Attorney’s Office “will probably have to shift down to the city attorney” cases for filing as misdemeanors.
Trutanich made clear that to the contrary, if cuts in his staffing are made, his priority will be to defend the city against lawsuits. (He has claimed that in his seven months in office, he has saved the city $80 million by not settling unmeritorious cases which would have been compromised, by practice, before he came into office on July 1, instead taking those cases to trial and winning.)
Increasing Police Officers
Trutanich noted that under the budget proposal, the number of police officers in the city would be increased, a move he has supported. Questioning the wisdom of concomitantly decreasing the number of prosecutors, he remarked:
“The city must provide the tools to prosecute the people that the officers arrest. If we don’t, what do you think will happen?”
He answered his question by saying:
“It won’t be long before the people that Mike represents understand this: They can go out and do a drunk driving. They can go out and commit acts of prostitution, be a john, whatever it might be—drugs—and there are no consequences.”
The city attorney said of the Mayor’s Office, the City Council’s Office, and the Controller’s Office:
“Do you know how many hits they took under the new budget proposal on their staff? Anyone want to take a guess? Zero.”
Budget decisions, he asserted, should not be based on politics.
Bar Association Meeting
Speaking the next night at the Italian American Lawyers Assn. dinner at which attorney Jack Denove was installed as the group’s 2010 president, Trutanich again bemoaned the prospect of losing 100 deputies and declared:
“There will be no more filings by the City Attorney’s Office unless we do something about it.”
“I’m going to close down my criminal practice if we don’t get the money from the city. We’re fighting like hell to keep our budget and keep those lawyers in place.”
Trutanich’s appearance at the IALA event was his eighth that day. He had just come from San Pedro, in the south of the county, where he went after mingling at a Mexican American Bar Assn. party at the home of attorney Felipe I. Plascencia in La Habra Heights, north of La Habra in Orange County.
At one meeting that day, held at the Department of Water and Power headquarters in the Los Angeles Civic Center, Trutanich urged representatives of neighborhood councils to lobby members of the City Council to keep his legal team intact, according to a report by KPCC radio.
Copyright 2010, Metropolitan News Company