Trutanich reluctant to release client list

LOS ANGELES The L.A. city attorney is the city's top lawyer and prosecutor. The two men in a runoff for the job have been trying to convict each other of not being up for the job. It's been a verbal slugfest. Monday, one of them got help from well-known ethics and legal experts.

Private attorney /*Carmen Trutanich*/ and veteran Los Angeles City Councilman /*Jack Weiss*/ met in a televised debate on Korean television Monday afternoon.

Trutanich, who has cancelled all but four previous face-to-face meetings, agreed to debate only Monday morning.

Weiss has been trying to get Trutanich to reveal a list of his clients. Trutanich has said it's unethical to do so.

Weiss got support for his position from two former heads of the /*Los Angeles County Bar Association*/ and the /*Los Angeles Ethics Commission*/.

/*Raquelle de la Rocha*/ is a past president of the Ethics Commission and /*Los Angeles Police Commission*/. She says nothing prohibits Trutanich from naming his clients.

"In my opinion, there could be selective prosecution accusations," said de la Rocha. "We would be prohibited from going after illegal conduct in various businesses based on what that client list tells us."

Trutanich insists that his opponent's supporters are wrong. He says he is prohibited from naming all his clients.

"I've done an exhaustive research on this issue because I believe I was right when I first came up with my opinion," said Trutanich. "I've confirmed that I am correct. I invite them to do the same type of research that I have."

The two former heads of the city Ethics Commission disagree, and /*Erwin Chemerinsky*/, dean of the University of California, Irvine School of Law, says there are no legal grounds for Trutanich's stonewalling.

The former president of the Los Angeles County Bar Association, /*David Pasternak*/, says the consequences are significant.

"The entire office could be conflicted out of cases that are brought against the City Attorney's former clients," said Pasternak.

Trutanich says all his cases are available to anyone who can search the Internet.

"In every single case, every time you appear, your name appears on a docket sheet," said Trutanich.

"Cases, but not necessarily clients," countered a reporter.

"The difference is this: That privilege belongs to a client. It doesn't belong to me," said Trutanich.

Trutanich said his campaign manager, /*Jane Usher*/, talked to Dean Chemerinsky. According to Trutanich, he followed Chemerinsky's advice.

However, the UC Irvine Law School dean said he told Usher that the identity of a client is generally not deemed to be confidential.

Chemerinsky says Usher never disclosed to him she worked for Trutanich.

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