Measure B Author Applauds Proposal To Get Outside Legal Counsel
Speaker 1: 00:00 The San Diego city attorney is proposing using outside legal counsel to help draft an updated ordinance that will create the city's commission on police practices. The overwhelming passage of measure B last November called for the creation of a commission that would be independent of the police department and oversee police practices. A draft ordinance to set up the commission was met with criticism from advocates and sent back to the drawing board earlier this month for more on how community members are reacting to this news, we're joined by Andrea St. Julian, an attorney and founder of San Diegans for justice. Welcome. Thank you, Andrea. I know you were instrumental in helping shape measure B and the creation of the commission on police practices, and you were not pleased with that initial draft. What do you think of the city's attorney's recommendation to seek outside counsel? Speaker 2: 00:47 I applaud the decision. It was definitely the right decision and we have to look at next steps in terms of who that outside counsel is going to be. Why Speaker 1: 00:57 Do you think it's important for there to be outside counsel on this matter? Speaker 2: 01:00 Because there is in fact, a conflict of interest within the city attorney's office. The city attorney represents the police department. When I saw the proposed ordinance at the city attorney road, I was shocked because it was clearly written from the perspective of the police department. What made you feel Speaker 1: 01:21 Like it was written in the perspective of the police department? Speaker 2: 01:24 It was written for the benefit of the police department, and it was written in a way that did not benefit the community. The proposed ordinance did not fulfill the duties and promise of measure B. And that is why I say that the ordinance was clearly written from the perspective of the police department. And Speaker 1: 01:47 I know one of those things was that all of the commissioners would be appointed by the city council. And that's something that you've really thought should not be the case, Speaker 2: 01:54 Is that right? Uh, that is true, but it is not simply me. We had forums over the past many months from community members and actually for years, we've had community forums to find out what best meets the community's needs. The one thing that the community was most adamant about is that the new commissioners should not be appointed by the mayor or the city council's office. Speaker 1: 02:20 As you mentioned, really the next step. What you're looking for is what is this outside legal counsel going to look like? So city attorney Mara Elliott has outlined two options for seeking outside legal counsel. One is extending a contract with a law firm that already works with the city. And the second is having the commission on police practices. Finally hire its own general counsel. What do you think is the right course of action here? Speaker 2: 02:41 Well, I think the first problem, if the city were to use the attorney for the commission, you would have a clear conflict of interest. I don't think it would be possible to use them. The attorney for the commission is hired to represent the commission's interests, and that could be at odds with what the city council is recommending for the new ordinance. And so that's a conflict. I don't think that that can even happen. I think there needs to be a considered search for outside counsel and it needs to be outside counsel that has experience in not only writing legislation, but in civil rights and public interest work. Speaker 1: 03:31 The city attorney is also recommending seeking outside counsel to legally review the protect ordinance, which seeks to end pretextual stops and consent searches. It was drafted by the coalition for police accountability and transparency of which San Diegans for justice, as part of what do you make of this decision and this recommendation. Speaker 2: 03:49 I applaud that decision as well. I think that that is a really important decision. The, uh, conflicts that exist between the, the, the city attorney and, um, you know, writing this ordinance exists with respect to the CPP ordinance, as well as to the protect ordinance. People have to understand and, and keep in mind, the city attorney represents the police department. They cannot be independent and objective in writing any legislation having to do with the police department. And where Speaker 1: 04:21 Does the protect ordinance stand right now? I mean, what really needs to happen in order for this to even be a new law in the city? Speaker 2: 04:28 Well, it has to pass through city council. Uh, I think it's an extremely well-written ordinance and I think that it is an extremely important and necessary ordinance. And, uh, the only thing that has to happen is for the city council to say, yes, and Speaker 1: 04:44 This legal review is part of that process, is that right? Speaker 2: 04:47 Of course, the city does want a legal review of the ordinance and, uh, that should take place and be part of the normal process. Speaker 1: 04:56 When we last spoke, it was actually in may for the anniversary of George Floyd's death. And at the time you were disappointed at the speed in which this commission is being formally set up, but you were still hopeful. Is that still the case? Speaker 2: 05:10 Oh, I'm extremely helpful. I'm actually more than hopeful. The community has shown up every step of the way. And if the community keeps showing up, we will get the ordinance that measure be promised Speaker 1: 05:23 As we continue to move forward as a city, talking about police reform and accountability. What do you want to see our leaders do in terms of keeping people engaged in the subject, but also trusting of this process? Speaker 2: 05:35 Actually, that's a pretty simple answer. Elected officials need to start listening to the community in their voters measure B was passed with 75% of the vote. That is incredible. And despite that overwhelming support elected officials are still refusing to listen to what the voters want into what the community wants. We have given elected officials, everything that they need to write a inappropriate ordinance. We've had forums where it's very clear what the community wants. I took all of the information that we got from the, the community. And I wrote a voter voters ordinance, which has a tremendous amount of support. Even the new commission is very supportive of most parts of the voters ordinance. There really isn't much disagreement from the community side yet the elected officials are not just simply taken what has been prepared and given to them and doing the right thing. They want to make this really difficult. And that is not going to do anything more than make things difficult for them. I've been Speaker 1: 06:50 Speaking with Andrea St. Julian attorney and founder of San Diegans for justice. Thank you so much for your time today. Thank you.