Attorney's Fees

Special prosecutor wins hard-fought $100K legal bill battle, plus ruling he won't have to itemize

Forced to use a court-appointed special prosecutor after the Rensselaer County, N.Y., district attorney stepped aside from a ballot fraud case against local politicians, county lawmakers weren’t happy with the bill that resulted.

But they are apparently going to have to pay the remaining $100,000 or so that is due to special prosecutor Trey Smith and assistant prosecutor Matthew Hug after a Tuesday ruling by Judge George J. Pulver Jr., according to the Albany Times Union and the Troy Record.

All told, the case against Democratic Elections Commissioner Edward McDonough and former City Councilman Michael LoPorto, which concluded last month with a mistrial after the jury deadlocked, reportedly cost the county around $500,000.

“While we disagree and are disappointed with the decision, our legal options appear to be limited,” said County Executive Kathy Jimino in a written statement provided to the Times Union after the judge’s ruling Tuesday. “The county attorney has been directed to perform a review with the intent of drafting legislation to ensure that the interest of the county and our taxpayers are better protected in the future when and if the separately elected district attorney finds it necessary to recuse himself and a judge appoints a special prosecutor as a result.”

Also at issue in the hard-fought legal bill battle was whether Smith had to provide detailed billing information to the county. He said he was willing to do so in a private session, but wasn’t willing to hand over hard-copy material because it wasn’t public. Trial and appellate courts ruled in his favor on that question, too, finding that the itemization requested by the county was confidential attorney work product.

See also:

Times Union: “Unpaid bills fog start of ballot case”

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