Thursday, July 21, 2011

Shocking Unpreparedness by City Attorney's Office - Mismanagement To Blame?

As the City Council considers stripping City Attorney Trutanich of his power to advise the council on civil cases and legislation, evidence is emerging that appears to reveal the true extent of the woefully poor level of service that Trutanich is supplying.

It appears that the wheels have been coming off  the Trutanich wagon for some considerable time, and that is likely the reason for the City Council's startling unanimous vote to reduce Trutanich's responsibilities so that he can cope with his current legal obligations.

In a sworn declaration to the Court dated April 21, 2011, Deputy City Attorney Claudia Martin states "I am unable to prepare Respondent's Brief by it's current due date of April 27, 2011."

Martin continues "I have not had enough time to review all pertinent documents related to the appeal and need further time." and "I have not had a chance to review the entire appellate file." Tellingly, Martin states "I have previously been one of (7) attorneys covering West Bureau and now I am the only attorney left to cover multiple divisions. Due to budget cuts, one attorney (myself) remains and so my courtroom obligations have increased."

Martin's entire declaration can be viewed by using this link.

While Trutanich seems to have no problem tasking countless attorneys to work on matters that are important to him, such as his awful ACE Program, Martin's declaration shows that he is apparently incapable of providing basic legal services having stripped departments of attorneys so that they can presumably work on his priorities.

Councilmember Ed Reyes recently raised the issue of what had happened to the Arizona boycott ordinance that Trutanich was tasked to draft. Perhaps the one year delay in producing that ordinance has it's own Martin declaration to excuse poor management and an inability to competently assign resources where they are needed.

Whether Trutanich has a plausible explanation for Martin's declaration, or whether he again chooses to hide behind his Chief Deputy when having to confront inconvenient truths about his mismanagement of the city's affairs, it is becoming clear that managing a large legal office in difficult times is beyond Trutanich.

The Martin declaration will doubtless provide useful evidence for the City Council when they further consider their proposal to relieve Trutanich of the burden of having too many tasks that he fails to accomplish. It must surely also raise doubts about his suitability to run the much larger District Attorney's Office.



Anonymous said...

In my 25 years of legal practice I have never seen anything like this. My heart goes out to Ms Martin who has been put in the embarrassing position of having to 'rat out' Mr Trutanich for the ridiculous staff cuts he made to the Neighborhood Prosecutor program. That one attorney is now forced to do the work of seven is not only a sign that Trutanich cares nothing for Ms Martin, but a clear indication of what happens when you have an absentee boss who spends more time fundraising and campaigning than doing the job he's paid over $213,000 a year to do.

Anonymous said...

Can't wait for the next asinine comment from Hyatt Seligman about how well Deputy City Attorneys are doing (as opposed to DDAs).

Trutanich's lack of competency in management is only matched by his absence of humility and good judgment.

Anonymous said...

It is surprising that an attorney would state in a sworn document that she is unprepared, but then I guess that's just a sign of how bad things are under Trutanich. He keeps on saying how he has volunteer lawyers working for him, so I wonder why he couldn't send a few of those over to help Ms. Martin? Perhaps the truth is that things are not exactly the way Trutanich says they are. I am glad that the city council is taking the steps they need to in order to get proper reliable legal advice. Trutanich is way out of his depth.

Anonymous said...

The Martin Declaration was the talk of City Hall today. You can be sure it will be brought up when the Council meets to consider Chief Legislative Analyst Gerry Miller's report on how other cities HIRE real lawyers to draft ordinances.

Here's a preview of CM Zine's question for Miller "Mr. Miller, could you explain the the Council how it can be that with 500 attorneys working for the City of LA, most making over $125k plus benefits, that Ms. Martin was unprepared to file a simple response to an appeal?"

And then "Isn't it true that Mr. Trutanich, our City Attorney is responsible for failing to adequately supervise Ms. Martin's department?"

And so it will go, on and on, every CM in the horseshoe will be taking pot-shots at Trutanich, and enjoying every minute of it.

When it's all over Trutanich will be lucky to be left with his 500 lawyers who will only have to concentrate on the criminal cases that he cannot currently cope with.

Congratulations Nuch, you've destroyed the office. Clown.

Anonymous said...

Nuch running for DA and the ADDA trying to get agency shop has set the theme for the rest of this month: the dishonest and incompetent are never deterred by humility or their sheer inability to perceive reality. Like Susan Sarandon said in Bull Durham,"life is best enjoyed by those with no self awareness."

Anonymous said...

Jan Perry's curveball at Nuch is interesting - he can't run for DA now with the city council throwing this no confidence vote at him. There is no way he'll run for DA.

Anonymous said...

David, this is an all-time low. Don't you have a full-time job? Or do you find these documents during your continuous cigarette breaks?

This "Martin declaration" was not the talk of City Hall today. Most of us were laughing at the pettiness of the allegations contained in many of your blog entries, especially this one.

DCA Martin requested a one-time extension. It is my understanding that these types of requests are routinely granted. In fact, perhaps you could find out how many similar requests were made by deputies handling appeals in your office. I don't think such requests, however, should automatically be equated with mismanagement by D.A. Cooley.

Over the last few years, the City Attorney's Office has had its budget decimated by the City Council and Mayor. Prosecutors were furloughed during each two week pay period. Overall staffing was cut. Although other City agencies also experienced budget cutbacks, LAPD's funding was minimally impacted. The CA files approximately 70% of the cases tied to arrests made by LAPD. So yes, I'm certain it has been difficult for the DCAs to keep up with all of the work.

Again, your website seems to be primarily a personal vendetta against the City Attorney. Maybe your time would be better spent assisting fellow prosecutors versus attacking them.

Anonymous said...

As usual, you can tell when the Dragnet has hit on a raw nerve from the vitriolic personal attacks from those exposed by an excellent article. The Martin Declaration leak appears to have struck deep.

Judging by comments from 11:46pm (most likely one of Nuch's chiefs) the leak of the Martin Declaration produced another one of those 3 hour long closed door sessions in the 8th floor Nuch-bunker, with the a red faced Nuch ranting and raving about being betrayed by his own people, while all his chiefs look at the floor wishing it would open up and swallow them.

Requesting a continuance for an appeal is not unusual, a judge will typically grant such a request for "good cause." What is unusual here is the excuse given for the continuance - an appalling lack of management and mis-deployment of resources.

Pretty much, every government department and private sector law business has had to cope with budget cuts. It seems that only Nuch can't cope, so it's fair comment to question whether he can manage a larger office also faced with similar issues. So far, no DDA has used "budget cuts" as good cause for a continuance, they know their credibility would vanish in a Nuch minute if they did.

As for DCAs handling 70% of cases filed by LAPD, of course those are mostly very, very minor crimes which appear to be very adequately handled by Nuch's "free volunteer attorneys" that he brags about. Must be nice for seasoned, experienced DCAs to have their value equated to jobless, inexperienced, fresh-out-of-law school trainees. Another brilliant morale trasher from Nuch.

As for helping fellow prosecutors, most believe that service would be accomplished by continuing to make sure Nuch is prevented from continuing to destroy the City Attorney's Office as well as spreading his maniacal thuggish management style any where else.

If you have the guts to dare to open your mouth during Nuch's next rant session, just tell him it's nothing personal, it's just business. He gets that,

Anonymous said...

@11:46PM - you must be one of Nuch's $200k a year plus special deputies who don't have to take 36 pay furlough days, like 99% of the rest of the City Attorney's Office. That's the price of loyalty in Nuch's world.

James Mccuen said...

If the City Council can fund outside Council, couldn't they increase funding for the City Attorney's office instead?

Anonymous said...

James, the City already pays for 500+ lawyersbin the CA's office. Until Nuch started screwing with the staffing to make sure HIS priorities were taken care of at the expense of his charter defined duties to the council, there wasn't a problem. Nuch has brought this problem on himself and he's going to pay the price. So are we.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for continuing to expose Nuch for the unprofessional manager that he is. I've heard from many well respected City Attorneys that morale is at an all time low-- even lower than under Delgadillo. Apparently most don't respect him because of his bad judgment and bully style of managing. I'm supporting anyone and everyone that runs against Nuch for DA. I have dedicated too many years working for an Office that I respect to let this guy ruin it with his antics. I have no respect for him. He should have stayed doing criminal defense work, he doesn't have the integrity of a prosecutor. Thank you to A.J. for doing your part to expose Nuch, hopefully the word will spread.

Anonymous said...

Nuch and his team have had a string of victories in civil cases of which he and the office can be proud.

Rocky and Jimmy settled every case and the City paid out millions when they didn't have to do so.

The worst example was the $2million plus "settlement" to the firefighter who ate a little dog food.

He, himself, had perpetrated pranks like that upon others but the City paid out millions to him on the Rocky recommendation. Nuch would have tried it and won it.

Get off his back; the Council can't push him around and they are frustrated.

Every City Attorney has had this "motion" made against him and the Charter always prevails. It's just a cheap trick by Jan and the Council because they want to placate the billboard and marijuana crowd so their contributions will return.

Anonymous said...

This is just a power grab by Jan Perry because Nuch won't let her sell out the city to AEG for their football stadium.

She thinks stuff like this will help her Mayoral campaign.