Thursday, January 10, 2013

Rescinding Conflicts of Interest Waivers?

Here's another interesting story coming out of Imperial Valley, California, centering on calls to rescinding conflicts waivers issued to outside law firms. The story centers on deliberations by the Imperial Irrigation District’s (IID) Board of Directors: "Imperial Irrigation District to review its use of outside counsel" --
  • "'In closed session it was apparent that the IID wishes for the general manager to arrange for an independent review of its many and far-flung legal needs as they’re being handled by outside counsel,' Kelley said. 'Specifically, the board is concerned about the overreliance on one firm, Allen Matkins.'"
  • The board also rescinded a conflict-of-interest waiver between the IID and John Penn Carter of the law firm Horton Knox, Carter and Foote LLP and a letter of engagement between the IID and the law firm Allen Matkins, whose attorney David Osias represents the district in matters of litigation. Osias represented a number of clients in the Imperial Valley before signing a contract with the IID. A number of those clients are suing the IID.
  • "Carter had a conflict of interest waiver from the IID to represent the city of Vista and some Native American tribes."
  • "The resolution also calls for a review of the conflict of interest waiver granted to attorney William Kissinger by First Solar, a solar energy developer with whom the district has done business." [Ed: Internet investigation suggests Mr. Kissinger is a partner at Bingham McCutchen.]
  • "'I’m asking the board to rescind all conflict waivers and have them brought back to the board for approval,' Director Jim Hanks said."
  • "The district has come under fire before about its use of outside counsel, particularly Osias, whom IID critics have said has clear conflicts."

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