Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes said today that he will not abide by Mayor Mike McGinn’s request to step aside from representing the city in its negotiations with a federal monitor to reach an agreement on how to carry out police reforms.
McGinn reiterated earlier today that he would not include Holmes in formal talks because of concerns about his ability to ethically represent the city.
In a statement released this afternoon, Holmes’ office said, “City Attorney Pete Holmes will not screen himself from representing the City in this case. The City Charter gives the City Attorney supervisory control of all litigation and, although the City has entered a consent decree with the U.S. Department of Justice, this remains a pending lawsuit under the supervision of a federal judge.
“Mr. Holmes has violated no client confidences or breached any ethical obligations to his client, the City of Seattle. Mr. Holmes communicated his position to the mayor’s legal counsel in a private letter today,” the letter said.
Holmes’ statement comes one day after McGinn moved to bar Holmes from participating in talks on police reforms, accusing Holmes of “undercutting” Police Chief John Diaz in negotiations with the monitor.
In a strongly worded email, McGinn’s legal counsel, Carl Marquardt, accused Holmes of an ethical breach of the attorney-client privilege as the city works to comply with a settlement agreement with the Department of Justice to curb excessive force and biased policing.
Marquardt said it was time to institute an “ethical screen” between Holmes and the attorneys in his office who are representing the city in the matter.
Holmes’ office replied in a terse statement Tuesday night, saying his office “categorically denies any breach of the City Attorney’s ethical obligations to the City.”