Back to Square One for Conflict Counsel Contract

, The Legal Intelligencer

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picture of man hands signing contract

The current notice of intent to contract and request for proposals issued by the city of Philadelphia to create a for-profit agency to represent indigent defendants in criminal cases has been canceled by the city.

The Jan. 3 notice of intent to award the contract to criminal defense attorney Daniel-Paul Alva of Philadelphia-based Alva & Associates was revoked by the city government Wednesday. A city official said the city will start the entire RFP process anew as a result. A date for that launch was not given.

Alva said the contract was canceled because of an error he made in the written language of the contract.

"I'm very disappointed. It wasn't canceled because of the merits of the contract, it was canceled because I made an error in the wording. And so the city revoked its intent," he said.

Alva added that he was "most sorry for the city that has gone through this process for over a year-and-a-half and the indigent who need representation."

Deputy Mayor Everett Gillison said that Alva's proposed firm was incorrectly named as an LLC, when it was not one.

"This has nothing to do with the great work he was going to do for poor people," Gillison said. "But I could not sign the paper on my desk today because of the mistake." He added that Alva had "placed the wrong entity on the documents ... and we are sticklers for following the rules."

Gillison said additionally that "we have our rules for a reason and we abide by our rules. We revoked the notice of intent to contract and the notice has been taken down ... and the city will withdraw that opportunity that has been out there for over a year-and-a-half and we will put up a new one in the near future."

Councilman Dennis O'Brien said that he was glad that the contract was going back to square one because it would give the Nutter administration a chance to revisit the plan with the constitutional rights of the indigent in mind.

O'Brien has been a staunch opponent of the notion of a for-profit legal entity representing indigent defendants since its inception.

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