Saturday, May 26, 2001

City's legal bill $20K and growing

By Robert Anglen
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The lawyer hired to take on federal investigators scrutinizing Cincinnati's police department will cost taxpayers $20,000 — for now.

        City officials said Friday that the final bill for Washington, D.C., lawyer Billy Martin and his staff will be significantly higher, but that's all the money they have right now for outside legal help.

Complete coverage in our special section.
        Deputy City Solicitor Pete Heile said very soon the law department will have to ask City Council for more money to pay Mr. Martin.

        Mr. Martin's job is to guide officials through a federal civil-rights investigation of the police department and represent the city in a federal lawsuit accusing police of racial profiling.

        The city recently agreed to spend $100,000 to help mediate the racial profiling lawsuit.

        A former Justice Department lawyer, Mr. Martin has handled hundreds of police misconduct cases and will conduct his own investigation into the allegations.

        Mr. Martin's normal rate is about $400 an hour. He will be charging the city $225 an hour for himself and any partners who work on the case. His assistants will be paid $165 an hour.

        Council members on Friday said the city had no choice but to hire outside lawyers, and they agreed Mr. Martin is extremely qualified. But they said this should have been considered before Mayor Charlie Luken asked for a federal investigation last month.

        “The mayor asked the federal government to investigate us, now taxpayers have to pick up the tab,” Councilman Phil Heimlich said. “I wish the mayor had thought of this before.”

        Councilman Paul Booth said a cap should have been established before the city acted.

        “It would have been nice to know the ramifications before,” he said.

        The city is also paying up to $15,000 for a special prosecutor to take over the case against Officer Stephen Roach, who is charged in the shooting death of Timothy Thomas.


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