By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
Secrecy and insulation for Delgadillo were top priorities. Delgadillo asked the court to seal his entire deposition. Depositions of his former top deputy, Terree Bowers, and deputies Maureen Siegel, Deborah Sanchez, Molly Roff-Sheridan, Charles Goldenberg, Thomas Griego, Houston and Thomas were partially sealed. “Anything that could hurt Delgadillo politically was taken out of public view,” King said.
Lawyers in Los Angeles took a mixed but dim view of the three-year, multimillion dollar debacle, which led to recusal of the entire Los Angeles Superior Court because so many judges gave interviews supporting Magnandonovan’s firing. A veteran assistant city attorney said at least three opinions were prevalent in the office after the verdict: “Some were supportive of Lynn even though they saw she was an odd duck. Some felt that if you can’t fire her, then whom can you fire? Some felt the whole thing was driven by Rocky running for office; the Star Chamber where decisions are made is no different than the invidious environment where retaliation occurs.”
On Tuesday, sources said that Maureen Siegel, the attorney assigned to oversee the litigation, presented a recap of the case to her superiors. Siegel, sources said, blamed the verdict on the jury’s lack of understanding of the legal profession and the poor impression made by the judges who testified against Magnandonovan.
Christine McCall is a 30-year veteran of the City Attorney’s Office, now an administrative-law judge. She was an employee representative when Magnandonovan’s case hit her desk three years ago. “The case for Lynn’s firing was a total departure from legal process, the office’s policies, the requirements imposed on other city departments, and the very instructions we are taught to follow,” McCall says. “I’m embarrassed to admit that I always thought someone would have the authority and the standing and the integrity to go to Rocky Delgadillo, Terree Bowers or [chief of staff] Ann D’Amato and tell them there was no ground under their feet. Maybe someone did and they didn’t want to hear it.”
McCall is particularly disturbed by the use of judges to bolster the case for firing Magnandonovan. She says a well-regarded handbook for judges clearly states that when judges have a problem with a public lawyer, they are to use their power to order contempt of court, and not intercede with the lawyer’s employer. “The judges could be subject to charges of misconduct. I faxed a copy of this guideline to Delgadillo, Bowers and D’Amato, and I cannot explain why no one took a breath of clean air and realized what they were doing was wrong.”
Having given a deposition in the case and testified at trial — qualified by the court as an expert witness, with no objection from Baker Hostetler — McCall rated the city’s private representation as “ineffective, dispirited and mediocre.” She said, “It was a remarkably underskilled performance given the amount of money the city spent.” The city approved a contract for $1.85 million, and as of last month had paid out $1.45 million of that. Final bills are pending.
McCall says one of the benefits of being a public lawyer is the supposed lack of pressure to take liberties with the truth. “You don’t have to risk losing clients, and you don’t have to straddle the ethical dilemmas that private lawyers do. Yet it boggles the mind that a group of public lawyers could get together and suspend the law and the facts in this way. These are not elastic concepts. For an office that has prosecutorial authority, the willingness of management to do so places everyone in jeopardy.”