Gov't Attorneys, Negotiation, Standing on Rights
robertmw at MINDSPRING.COM
Wed Jan 21 17:46:18 PST 1998
Thanks Ed. Your context was helpful. And no, I wasn't taking any personal
offense at any "generalizations." There's too much "Rambo" in the practice
of law, and constitutional claims are not immune.
Negotiation and mediation is always preferable to litigation, always. And I
commend Ed's win-win philosophy and approach.
Some of the specifics are telling. They reflect considerable ignorance on
the part of some of the attorneys. The Cincinnati Easter Fire case looks
that way to me. The flip side is fear of lawsuits for carving out
"exemptions" that in truth don't exist. "Oh no, if we let the catholics
build a fire, then everybody will want one, and there'll be fires all over
town." Dumb argument, hysterical really, but legislators and city councils
are not as adept as the members of this list at seeing distinctions, so
they throw the baby out with the bathwater. All or none.
I am probably in the minority, but government lawyers like me try to learn
from the litigation and advise those in legislative positions to draft
accordingly. I'll fight with my clients, as I'm sure Ed does with his, to
pretermit litigation by drafting appropriate rules, regs, statutes with the
case law or my own experiences in mind. Too many gov't and private lawyers
let the client learn from their own mistakes, and will play hired gun after
the fact, when litigation was avoidable. I don't. I'm in the minority.
Sometimes the client's refuse to listen for political reasons. Or because
they're tired of being told they could get sued and lose, so they turn a
deaf ear (usually my exit cue). It's really a matter of professional ethics
of the attorney how much he/she is willing to fight with his client to a
win-win solution. It's easy for me. I'm not on the clock, and I have a
steady clientele. It should be that way for most gov't lawyers, but I can't
say that it is.
Another telling example was the go-to-the mat firm hired by Renton. Now
see, THAT is not a problem with government lawyers, but a problem with
governments unwittingly hiring private firms with the go-to-the-mat
mentality, rather than developing the expertise to handle that kind of case
in-house with the long-range view of avoiding needless, protracted, and
taxpayer money wasteful litigation. There's no benefit to the private firm
to save the government money. They're on the clock. Big problem there.
Anyway, I took no great offense at any generalizations. I was curious about
the context, because we can all learn from this kind of foolishness when it
Rob Weinberg, Montgomery, AL
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