Monday, February 23, 2009

Hush, Hush, JaCo Legislators "Lawyer Up" - Day 78 of the Jackson County Ethics Blackout

At last week's County Legislature meeting, Chair Scott Burnett introduced an ordinance authorizing the legislature to go into secret session during today's meeting. Given the legislature's penchant for doing things in private and avoiding public oversight, it's tough not to speculate on what will be going on today.

Here's the description of today's secret meeting, as set forth in last week's agenda:
A RESOLUTION authorizing the Jackson County Legislature to hold a closed meeting on Monday, February 23, 2009, for the purpose of conducting privileged and confidential communications between itself and the Jackson County Counselor under section 610.021(1) of the Revised Statutes of Missouri, and closing all records prepared for discussion at said meeting.
Wow, they're talking to their lawyer!

What will the topic be? Will they be talking about their ethics ordinance, which illegally contradicts the Jackson County Home Rule Charter? Will they be talking about whether it was legal for them to name a public facility after Fred Arbanas, giving him an unfair advantage in the 2010 elections? What fresh outrage will the legislature be dreaming up today, behind closed doors?

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Scott wants to force Calvin Willaford to give him a cut of the kickbacks.

2/23/2009 8:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The plot thickens.

2/23/2009 12:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey 8:54:

You don't know? Calvin, Scott and Henry are all sleeping together. They are already sharing everything.

2/24/2009 3:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I suppose Dan never took the MPRE but do think it is ironic that someone who's so hung up on 'ethics' doesn't understand basic ethics of legal representation.

Let's catch Dan up on one of the cornerstones of ethics in legal representation known as "conflict of interest": because Burnett and the rest of the legislature weren't "talking to their lawyer" as claimed in this post.

Due to the rules of professional ethics the Jackson County Counselor does not represent the legislature - he is NOT their lawyer. The job of the County Counselor is to represent the county itself - all of us. He is unable to represent any interests that would conflict with those of the citizens of Jackson County without jeopardizing his standing as a licensed attorney in Missouri.

Maybe Dan is lodging a vague accusation that Mark Jones should be reported to Missouri’s Office of the Chief Disciplinary Counsel for violating COI rules?

2/24/2009 8:15 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

I love it when first year law students abandon their studies for a moment to read my blog . . .

The legislators are represented by the County Counselor to such an extent that the attorney-client privilege attaches. The representation of governmental bodies is a complex matter, and I wish you the best of luck in your studies.

2/24/2009 8:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The legislators are represented by the County Counselor to such an extent that the attorney-client privilege attaches."

What does that even mean? There is no attorney-client privilege where there is no representation. You must be making the common 1L mistake of confusing "confidentiality" with "privilege".

The County Counselor DOES NOT REPRESENT the legislature. You might have forgotten how your buddy Jim Wirken racked up a ridiculous amount of billable hours on the taxpayers' dime because of this.

2/26/2009 3:13 PM  
Anonymous 1L said...

Attorney-client privilege is a Rule of Evidence that prevents communications from being admitted in a court - it does not create attorney client relationships where none existed.

You are correct if you mean that certain communications between the County Counselor and elected officials may be privileged, (a determination that can be asserted by the parties but ultimately decided by a judge) but that a communication is privileged does not create and attorney client relationship between the County Counselor and county elected officials. Try is as a syllogism, it doesn't work.

The communications are privileged to the extent they relate to the representation - and the only representation that exists is between the counselor and the government body.

Mark Jones does not represent elected county officials, and if he is representing them he is acting beyond the scope of his representation.

In other words, they were not "talking with their lawyer!"

2/26/2009 4:44 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

In case anybody else is still reading this thread, please understand that the legislators were "lawyering up" as a legislature. They were talking to the legislature's lawyer, and they didn't want anybody to hear what they were talking about. This nonsense about privilege that 1L is talking about has nothing to do with the truth of what the Untouchables are doing. Nobody is saying the lawyer is representing them personally (that's what got them in trouble with the Ethics Commission in the first place, isn't it?).

2/27/2009 5:54 PM  

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