Lawsuit on funding of City Council legal bills gets 1st court hearing

December 02, 2004|BY A SUN STAFF WRITER

A lawsuit challenging the use of city funds to pay the legal bills of City Council members received its first hearing yesterday before a city Circuit Court judge.

Judge Lynn K. Stewart heard arguments for and against using taxpayer money for private attorneys who are representing council members in a federal investigation. Stewart is expected to rule soon.

U.S. Attorney Thomas M. DiBiagio's office is investigating the 19-member council's finances, and William Barry, an unsuccessful Green Party candidate for City Council in the November election, contends in his lawsuit that council members should have to pay for legal representation.

City officials argue that council members should not have to tap their resources during the investigation, but say that any council members indicted would have to hire their own lawyers.

Last December, the Board of Estimates hired two attorneys to represent the council and agreed to spend up to $230,000 in legal fees and expenses.

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