FRA­ZIER

Rappahannock News - - Front Page -

The sec­ond let­ter, ad­dressed to Curry and Goff and dated June 6, 2019, in­cluded a “re­vised in­voice for $19,365, re­flect­ing ad­di­tional fees in­curred since the May 10, 2019 claim.”

“Mr. Fra­zier, in direct con­nec­tion with his du­ties as a su­per­vi­sor, and in fur­ther­ance of his du­ties in serv­ing the lo­cal­ity, has been re­quired to re­spond to ac­tions ini­ti­ated by coun­sel for the Board of Su­per­vi­sors,” wrote the pair from the Of­fit Kur­man law firm, point­ing out that be­cause of Bragg I Fra­zier was served with two sub­poe­nas and there’s been a re­quest for his de­po­si­tion.

“Be­cause there is an ob­vi­ous and sub­stan­tial con­flict of in­ter­est in rep­re­sen­ta­tion by coun­sel for the Board in also rep­re­sent­ing Mr. Fra­zier, he has had to ob­tain us as in­de­pen­dent coun­sel,” the at­tor­neys wrote.

In a lengthy and de­tailed writ­ten re­sponse to the pair of in­voices, Goff in­formed the BOS that the Vir­ginia Code the claimant in­voked to con­sider its claim “re­quires the County At­tor­ney to ad­vise the Board if the claim is il­le­gal, not in proper form, or should not be al­lowed for any other rea­son.”

That said, Goff pointed out that Fra­zier “is not a party in Bragg I, as a de­fen­dant or oth­er­wise, mean­ing he has noth­ing at risk in that case re­gard­less of the out­come.”

Fur­ther­more, said the county at­tor­ney, it was a “mis­nomer” to re­fer to the at­tor­neys’ in­voice as be­ing a “claim” be­cause there is no le­gal ba­sis for a “right to pay­ment” in this par­tic­u­lar case.

Goff also ar­gued that there’s noth­ing in the cited code about an in­di­vid­ual mem­ber of the BOS, Fra­zier in this case, “hav­ing the right to em­ploy coun­sel for them­selves on such terms and con­di­tions as they please at the ex­pense of the County.

“Em­ploy­ment of coun­sel is dis­cre­tionary with the Board, and the Board has not ex­er­cised its dis­cre­tion to em­ploy the Claimant as coun­sel for any­one,” Goff wrote. “Sec­tion 15.2-1520 . . . is only al­lowed where the per­son who is to re­ceive the le­gal ser­vices is a ‘de­fen­dant’ in a le­gal ac­tion, and here Mr. Fra­zier is not . . . Since he is not a de­fen­dant in Bragg I, he can­not avail him­self of 15.2-1520 . . . to pro­vide a right to be paid.”

Goff added that Fra­zier “had no au­thor­ity by sign­ing such an agree­ment [with his at­tor­neys] to bind the county to do any­thing,” not to men­tion his seek­ing pri­vate coun­sel was “never ap­proved, or bud­geted for, by the County. They have never even been seen by the County.

“If Mr. Fra­zier can do this, he could uni­lat­er­ally im­pose on the County oner­ous terms and open-ended fi­nan­cial obli­ga­tions that may be in his in­ter­est, but not in the pub­lic in­ter­est,” noted Goff, who also serves as Com­mon­wealth’s At­tor­ney.

Goff also took the op­por­tu­nity to re­mind the board that the two at­tor­neys hired to as­sist the county at­tor­ney in rep­re­sent­ing the five named de­fen­dants in the Bragg I lit­i­ga­tion bill at the ne­go­ti­ated con­tract rates of $150 per hour (not to ex­ceed 8 hours per week) and $175 per hour.

Ac­cord­ing to records ob­tained by this news­pa­per, for the 20-month pe­riod dat­ing from Septem­ber 2017 through May 2019, the Rap­pa­han­nock of­fice of the law firm Walker Jones has charged the county $19,692 for rep­re­sent­ing de­fen­dants in Bragg I — vir­tu­ally the iden­ti­cal amount the pair of Tysons at­tor­neys are try­ing to bill the county for 48 hours of work on be­half of Fra­zier.

“While the Claimant may be worth such [$350-$400 per hour] fees, this fee dis­par­ity, and the re­sult­ing im­pact on the County bud­get, are one ex­am­ple of why any em­ploy­ment of coun­sel un­der 15.2-1520 was de­signed by the Gen­eral As­sem­bly to be with the Board and at its dis­cre­tion,” noted Goff. “The Board would want to know what it was get­ting into be­fore obli­gat­ing the County.”

Even if Fra­zier’s le­gal bill did con­sti­tute a “claim,” the county at­tor­ney con­tin­ued, “the na­ture of each sep­a­rate item for which a charge is made must be ‘specif­i­cally stated.’ All ser­vices ren­dered have been ‘blacked out’ on the bill, and are not specif­i­cally stated,” and mi­nus a fee agree­ment it is “im­pos­si­ble to judge whether they were proper.”

Af­ter Goff in­formed the Of­fit Kur­man at­tor­neys that their “claim” to the Board re­quired it be “ver­i­fied by af­fi­davit,” at­tor­ney String­ham swiftly sub­mit­ted an af­fi­davit dated June 6th, 2019, stat­ing among other things that the law firm ex­pended 48.5 hours of work on the Bragg I lit­i­ga­tion, and that its billing rates of $350 and $400 per hour re­spec­tively “are rea­son­able for this ac­tion.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.