Minutes

LOS ANGELES CITY ATTORNEYS ASSOCIATION
DRAFT BOARD MEETING MINUTES

Meeting Date: April 16, 2002

Board Members Present: Shelley Smith (President), Jule Bishop (Treasurer), Judith Reel (Secretary), Marsha Berkowitz (Civil Director), Renee Laurents (Civil Director), Eskel Solomon (Proprietary Director).

I. Old Business

A. Contract Negotiations:

Shelley Smith reported that ours is one of seven employee organizations with an M.O.U. ratified by the City and membership which has not yet been presented to the City Council because of the Council’s concerns about the proposed exchange of Cesar Chavez Birthday for Columbus Day. Notwithstanding that the Council previously ordered the C.A.O. to obtain agreement to switch holidays, and notwithstanding that the Council has already approved such change for 10,000 civilian City employees, after a significant show of opposition by the Italian-American community, the Council referred the matter to the E.E.R.C. for a recommendation. The E.E.R.C. is scheduled to meet on Friday, April 19, 2002, to consider the issue. C.A.O. Fujioka has advised the Council that he recommends that the Council ratify the M.O.U.s stalled on this issue and seek to reopen negotiations on the holiday issue.

II. New Business

A. Public Records Act Request

An Association member inquired whether management provided the Association with all requested documents regarding the numbers of attorneys hired by the new administration, and their salaries. Jule Bishop responded that management has provided all documents requested, and that the latest document she received revealed that the new administration has hired 47 attorneys.

It was stated that under the previous administration, a monthly document was generated and supplied to supervisors, identifying all attorneys in the Office, their salary classification, and other pertinent information. The document was generated in satisfaction of EEO requirements. Jule Bishop agreed to show management a copy of such document, and to request that management regularly provide the Association with a copy.

It was noted at the meeting that the CityFone website has the name and phone number of all City employees, and their salary classifications. Accordingly, anyone can determine employee salary classification by that website link: "http://insidela/" . The site may not be operational to employees working at DWP.

B. Results of Informal Discussions with Management

Board members have agreed to meet informally each month with management to discuss matters of concern. One meeting has already occurred with discussion on the following points:

1. " Confidential" Memorandum regarding Civil Discovery of Criminal Branch Records:

Shelley Smith expressed concern about the written policy re discovery of Criminal Branch records in Civil Branch litigation recently promulgated by Terree Bowers. At the top of the policy memorandum Chief Deputy Terree Bowers set forth a prominent warning that the policy was for internal use only and not to be revealed or disseminated outside the office. Some attorneys expressed concern that secret policies are inimical in a public law office, especially on matters affecting the substantive rights of criminal defendants and civil litigants and the abilities of the private bar in representing these persons. Furthermore, there has been expressed concern that mandatory meet and confer procedures prescribed by California statute for resolution of discovery disputes cannot be fulfilled in good faith if Civil Branch attorneys are prohibited making reference to -- or even revealing the fact of -- an official policy which limits the discovery that can be produced.

In response to the Board’s concerns, Terree Bowers responded that management does not intend that the substantive contents of the memorandum be kept secret or confidential, but that management wanted to discourage attorneys from unnecessarily sharing the memorandum with persons outside of the Office. While this distinction was not set forth in the memorandum, Bowers further explicitly stated that attorneys may disclose the Office policy in the course of their duties, and that no discipline will ensue from such disclosure .

2. Due Process Procedures

A general discussion was held with respect to attorney performance and standards. All parties agreed that if management desires to impose discipline, it will abide by the processes required by law, i.e., it will first seek to identify and correct specific unsatisfactory behavior, will follow a sequence of progressive discipline, and will have adequate documentation of adequate reasons for any disciplinary effort.

C. Peer Advocates

A session about employee rights and responsibilities to train Association members to serve as peer advocates will occur on June 8. Any member who intends to attend should contact Board Secretary Judith Reel to arrange attendance. The training is intended to be concrete practical instruction in the representation of attorneys in grievances and disciplinary matters. Shelley Smith and Christine McCall (formerly Patterson) will participate in the instruction.

D. Secret Promotions

Several persons spoke of receiving information regarding secret promotions by management, i.e., unannounced promotions absent an office-wide attorney merit and promotion process. There was concern expressed about the profound negative impact on morale such managerial actions cause, especially in light of management’s verbal agreement during M.O.U. negotiations to maintain the status quo with regard to the formalized Merit and Promotion process. It was agreed that the Board will discuss this issue and appropriate action at the next informal meeting with management.

III. PAC

The PAC met to consider various pending requests.

As you know, our new MOU includes annual reimbursement for MCLE-related expenses. To ensure that you receive complete and timely reimbursement, we encourage you to follow the instructions contained in the MCLE protocol provided by City Attorney Management. You must complete and submit a reimbursement form in order to receive reimbursement.

You can reimburse expenses related to attending MCLE programs that are accepted by the California State Bar, even if the program takes place in another state. Eligible expenses include the cost of the program, travel, and per diems.

Please be judicious when choosing lodging and which food/drink expenses you submit for reimbursement.


The Board is pleased to announce that LACAA has retained the law firm of MASTAGNI, HOLSTEDT, AMICK, MILLER & JOHNSEN as General Counsel.