Short and sweet folks: Three cases and we’ve covered them all.
The suit the Parish filed against certain media outlets to clarify which grand jury documents the media would receive pursuant to media public records requests. The decisions made with respect to the outcome of this litigation is a key precursor to Slabb O’Leaks where we periodically publish the emails of certain parish council members from around the general time frame when the insurance portion of the Jefferson Parish political corruption scandal broke. This suit deals with the public records law and the media outlets were defended by Phelps Dunbar.
The suit Anne Marie Vandenweghe filed against The Parish after the Parish denied her public records request for her email file folders. This suit is currently at the Louisiana 5th Circuit Court of Appeals after Judge Ross LaDart dispensed a bit of Gretna style justice in favor of TheRiot and company. This suit deals with the public records law and the Parish is being defended by Phelps Dunbar.
Last but not least is TheRiot and the Parish suing the blogosphere last year, specifically mentioning yours truly in the suit. Leaving aside for the fact it is practically impossible to defame or liable a government under our system of law, the Parish was represented in this suit by Phelps Dunbar.
(a) A lawyer who has formerly represented a client in a matter shall not thereafter represent another person in the same or a substantially related matter in which that person’s interests are materially adverse to the interests of the former client unless the former client gives informed consent, confirmed in writing.
(b) A lawyer shall not knowingly represent a person in the same or a substantially related matter in which a firm with which the lawyer formerly was associated had previously represented a client
(1) whose interests are materially adverse to that person; and
(2) about whom the lawyer had acquired information protected by Rules 1.6 and 1.9(c) that is material to the matter; unless the former client gives informed consent, confirmed in writing.
(c) A lawyer who has formerly represented a client in a matter or whose present or former firm has formerly represented a client in a matter shall not thereafter:
(1) use information relating to the representation to the disadvantage of the former client except as these Rules would permit or require with respect to a client, or when the information has become generally known; or
(2) reveal information relating to the representation except as these Rules would permit or require with respect to a client.
Now lets review:
Phelps Dunbar represented the media’s interest against the Parish helping insure the media outlets (and Waste Management) got everything the grand jury got.
Phelps Dunbar then turns around and defends the Parish in a public records request lawsuit taking a legal position that is certainly materially adverse to their former clients at the Times Picayune, Fox 8 and frankly every media outlet that avails itself of the public records requests process in Jefferson Parish.
Is there a problem here folks? Did the Nan and pals get conflict of interest waivers? Somehow I think not.
In Louisiana it is the ODC that enforces the rules of the road for lawyers and law firms and the head guy at ODC, Chuck Plattsmier has caught a certain amount of hell here on Slabbed through time. According to some legal observers unfairly so in certain respects. Being a curious soul I endeavored to find out more on the topic of how the ODC works and frankly I think the process needs changing. The biggest source of my angst is the secrecy that surrounds the proceedings and anyone that has read Slabbed through time knows we’re very big on transparency here.
Secrecy is a double-edged sword as the case of Roy Raspanti illustrates. Raspanti is a lawyer who had the misfortune of having a sister who is bat shit crazy with a vindictive streak to boot. It seemed that Sis would file frivolous bar complaints about brother Roy with Plattsmier’s office, evidently without telling Roy. Fed up Roy then filed suit against his sister using the frivolous bar complaints as evidence. Roy did to himself what his sister could not do, namely land himself in hot water with the ODC for using the information from the bar complaints in his civil suit against Sis. It is a fascinating case and I hope the folks at West Law don’t get too cross with me for linking the Doc on the case. As a layman I read the case and feel bad for ol’ Roy but this is part of the reason we hate secrecy here on Slabbed.
I mention all this because it may well be that someone also noticed Phelps Dumbar representing both sides against the middle over in Jefferson Parish and dropped a dime on them to Plattsmier months ago. We wouldn’t know that under the current setup as the case has to be much further along in the process before anything is made public. As the Impeachment of Tom pOrteous illustrates, nobody at the ODC seems to get in a hurry about the business of enforcing legal ethics.