Phila. Conflict Counsel Contract Set to Be Awarded
O'Brien also pointed out in his letter that several witnesses who testified at the Oct. 7 city council law and government committee hearing found similar deficiencies in the proposed model.
The Legal reported that at that hearing, Gillison defended the proposed legal organization.
"We're looking at a model for delivery that will provide for the city," Gillison said before the committee. "This matter, I believe, will be a good thing for the legal community and for poor people in general. I know what all the concerns are; a lot of them, I think, are completely unfounded."
O'Brien alleged during the hearing that the entire RFP process lacked transparency and significant communication between Gillison and the council about the specifics of the project.
"I personally made phone calls to you and they were not returned," O'Brien had said to Gillison. "Emails were sent to you and they were not recognized. ... I have yet to see that proposal." O'Brien also questioned why the contract would only be awarded for one year, as many criminal cases take more than a year to resolve. Gillison had responded that the city charter prevented a multiyear contract.
Gillison had maintained that the process was undertaken with transparency, but certain aspects of the RFP could not be discussed.
"We have tried to be as apparent and overly transparent as possible," Gillison had said. "This is a process that has been extremely inclusive and extremely collegial. What I'm trying to do is solve a pressing issue we have before us."
In response to questions regarding the quality of attorneys who would potentially serve in the conflict-counsel organization, Gillison had said that most of the attorneys considered for the project possessed the requisite background and experience to do the job. He had also noted that attorneys with disciplinary records would not be precluded from serving as conflict attorneys in the proposed organization.
Several lawyers serving as witnesses testified to their skepticism at the proposed arrangement during the hearing.
Jeffrey Lindy, managing partner of Lindy & Tauber and a Criminal Justice Act panel attorney, had said, "The idea stinks, it's wrongheaded, and it's not going to work."