GREENSBORO, N.C. — As of the settlement of the largest part of multiple lawsuits against the City of Greensboro from current and former police officers, the city had spent $2,462,876.03 on outside counsel.
The majority of that money went to Smith, Moore, Leatherwood, to whom the city wrote checks totaling $1,763,288.41.
The city paid Van Laningham Duncan $391,953.62 and also paid Wilson, Helms, Cartledge $252,397.27.
The city paid the court reporting and litigation service Case Works $42,287.09 and wrote checks to Steve Rothlein & Associates in the amount of $6,409.17.
The Lawfirm of Wells, Jenkins, Lucas, and Jenkins received $6,540.47.
This isn’t over, yet either. The legal fees will continue to climb, as not all of the cases against the City and the police department have been settled or dismissed, yet.
For example, the city has paid the Brooks, Pierce, McLendon law firm $282,770.49 to defend Dr. Trudy Wade, who is no longer a city council member.
There’s a trial date in the case of James Hinson set for early October.
Greensboro City Attorney Mujeeb Shah-Khan said in some of these cases the city was required to hire outside counsel because employees in the previous administration were somehow part of the suit and would have created a conflict of interest.
“There are some circumstances when its inappropriate for the city attorney to represent the City. There are times when we need skills and expertise that we don’t have,” Shah-Khan said.
Shah-Khan became the city attorney in 2012, and these lawsuits have been going on much longer. He and the rest of the legal department also have to handle myriad other issues for the city and can’t focus on just one case or just one handful of cases.
“If we handle those in-house, we would have teams of people doing nothing but that, and we have other matters that the city has to handle,” Shah-Khan said.
The city picks its outside firms based on previous work or on their reputation as one of the best in a certain area of the law. According to Shah-Khan, they also get a discount because law firms see it as a public service of sorts.