Rutan & Tucker pursued a senior citizen for a minor violation for 5 years. Why?
A version of this letter was sent to the Dana Point Mayor and City Council,
For the past 5 years the city attorney of Dana Point has participated in a scorched Earth litigation via private firm lawyer Noam Duzman in the prosecution of a 68 year old state recognized handicapped woman named Seajay Lange. Seajay was arrested for public intoxication in 2018 and released. Ms. Lange was not a resident of Dana Point at the time, and for the majority of the past 3 years has been living out of her car, outside of Dana Point.
District attorney Todd Spitzer’s office chose not to prosecute, however Dana Point’s city attorney firm Rutan and Tucker chose to act as prosecutor for the past 5 years and pursued this case with gusto. This prosecution required FOURTY SEVEN (47) hearings over the course of 5 years, with each hearing apparently racking up billings paid for by Dana Point taxpayers for the exclusive benefit of Rutan and Tucker. This prosecution resulted in severe mental distress for Seajay.
For 12 months I have repeatedly submitted public records requests for an itemized billing statement detailing Rutan and Tucker’s fees for pursuing this case. As a journalist I believe the citizens of Dana Point have a right to know how the city chooses to spend money, especially considering the fact that Dana Point had previously deduced that using a city attorney firm would be more expensive than having an in-house attorney.
The city of Dana Point and Rutan and Tucker believe they are above the law, citing Gov Code Section 6254 (k), claiming that Rutan and Tucker’s billings for persecuting an elderly woman on behalf of the City of Dana Point are somehow protected by attorney-client privilege. Failure to disclose these billings indicate that Rutan and Tucker has something to hide. As the client of Rutan and Tucker, the city council can disclose unredacted records to the public as it sees fit.
The outcome of this scorched Earth prosecution? A humiliating demand by a sitting judge – which I personally heard – that Rutan & Tucker drop the case against Seajay.
The people of Dana Point deserve to know how much of their money is being wasted on unnecessary billings to pursue the punishment of our weakest citizens.
My questions for the City Council of Dana Point are:
- How much has been spent by the city in pursuit of this case (18HM15636)?
- How many other cases against homeless or indigent has Rutan and Tucker pursued since 2018?
- Did the city council of Dana Point personally authorize this legal action and others like it?
- Does the city council of Dana Point endorse the use of legal loopholes to deny transparent government to it’s citizens?
See how the city of Dana Point redacted dozens of invoices just like this in an attempt to hide how much Rutan and Tucker charged the city to prosecute Seajay.
This letter, and your response, will appear on our south OC news website Free Laguna (freelaguna.com) today.
Attachment: Example of redacted invoice from R&T
Attachment: Screen grab from OC Courts case against Seajay Lange
“The moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; those who are in the shadows of life; the sick, the needy and the handicapped.”
US Vice President Hubert Humphrey, 1977