Law firm Lackie, Dammeier & McGill, which represents many police unions, has a reputation for aggressive attacks against city halls. One critic described its tactics as ‘litigation terrorism.’
By Christopher Goffard, Los Angeles Times
September 16, 2012
One after another, people stepped before the Costa Mesa City Council to decry the blight and lawlessness on tiny Ford Road — prostitutes, thieves, home invaders. What the city needs, they pleaded, is more cops.
Councilman Jim Righeimer, a GOP activist and an architect of the city’s controversial plan to radically slash its workforce, perceived the parade of concerned citizens as the pawns of a police union and its law firm, with its statewide reputation for bare-knuckle tactics.
“This City Council is being held hostage by the police union,” Righeimer railed from his seat at the Aug. 21 meeting. “This council will not be shaken down.”
The next afternoon, Righeimer assembled a team of city officials to tour Ford Road and recommend improvements. Afterward, he stopped at a Newport Boulevard pub, Skosh Monahan’s, then climbed into his GMC Yukon and drove home.
Minutes later, a policeman arrived at his door to ask if he’d been drinking. Someone had called 911 to say Righeimer had stumbled out of the pub and swerved his car between lanes.
Righeimer passed the field sobriety test, furnished a $6.47 receipt for two Diet Cokes and wasted no time seizing the political moment. He was being set up, he announced at a press conference.
The 911 caller, it emerged, was a private investigator who worked for the police union’s Upland-based law firm, Lackie, Dammeier & McGill. The firm insists it did not send the investigator to follow Righeimer, and the police union denies involvement.
The Orange County district attorney’s office is now investigating the case, which has thrust Costa Mesa’s protracted city-union battle back into the spotlight. It has also raised scrutiny of a law firm with vast influence in the state and a reputation for aggressive attacks against city halls.
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