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State's Lawyers to Decide Whether Reeve Can Serve as Both Councilman and Lawyer

A Monterey Bay politician has asked the Attorney General's office for an opinion.

San Juan Capistrano City Councilman Derek Reeve. Patch file photo.
San Juan Capistrano City Councilman Derek Reeve. Patch file photo.

A Monterey Bay politician is inserting himself into San Juan Capistrano city politics by asking the state Attorney General’s office to render on an opinion on whether a councilman, who is also an attorney, can represent clients "adverse" to the city.

The move comes months after San Juan Capistrano’s three-person majority decided it wanted to look into whether Derek Reeve could simultaneously wear his councilman’s hat while representing clients with a beef against the city.

Initially, the council was willing to hire a retired judge to render an opinion. But after learning it would cost $25,000, the majority decided it would try to get the Attorney General’s office to examine the issue.

Enter Mark Stone, D-Monterey Bay, who approached the A.G.’s office after local Assemblywoman Diane Harkey, R-Dana Point, asked colleagues for assistance in the matter, according to the Orange County Register.

Last week, the A.G.’s office assigned Asst. Attorney General Bruce Slavin to the task, according to its website.

The official question he’ll be answering: May an attorney who sits on a city council represent clients with interests adverse to that city?

The inquiry was raised after a particularly polarizing time in city politics, when a now-unsuccessful attempt to recall Mayor Sam Allevato was underway and a newspaper critical of the city was upset the city had banned news racks at City Hall. Initially, Reeve served as the attorney for that paper. 

Reeve had previously published in Patch that he believes the council inappropriately voted on the investigation, and that the city attorney's office had a conflict of interest in guiding the council. 

Stone told the Register it’s not so much that cares about politics 400 miles from his home town, but that the question interests him. He said he’s just “a little wonky” that way.

"He is not involved in any controversy but is interested in the legal question as presented," Stone's spokeswoman Arianna Smith told Patch.

jim capistrano April 03, 2014 at 05:32 PM
Lawyers judging lawyers...no conflict there...
Gus Gunderson April 03, 2014 at 05:47 PM
Dave Solt, what a way to think: No one should ever oppose a city council ! Why have a city council if there is never an opposing view? Where in the story did it say that Council Member Reeve was "paid" for this? It doesn't. The bottom line, is that Council Member Reeve according to the city council minutes recused himself from any discussion. If he has recused himself, then that removes the conflict of interest from the discussion. Next.
Don_SJC April 03, 2014 at 11:45 PM
Gus, are you saying Reeves was never paid by CCS for representing them? How would you know whether or not he was paid?
Gus Gunderson April 04, 2014 at 01:43 PM
Don_Sjc, Dave Solt stated in his comment that Council Member Reeve was paid. Nowhere in the story does it say that Reeve was paid. Dave Solt must know something that is not stated in the story.
jim capistrano April 07, 2014 at 01:44 PM
...I much prefer Reeves acting just as an attorney vs a councilman...he can do less harm in private practice.

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