Yesterday, in County of Santa Clara v. Superior Court (ARCO), no. H031540, the Court of Appeal (Sixth Appellate District) scheduled oral argument for Thursday, January 17, 2008 at 9:30 a.m. in San Jose. The issue in this case is whether public entities may retain outside counsel to represent them on a contingency-fee basis. While this specific case is an action for nuisance, the reasoning and outcome may apply more broadly to other types of actions, such as UCL public prosecutor actions.
Copies of some of the appellate briefs in the case are available at these two posts. As I previously explained, at the trial-court level, Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Jack Komar ruled that a public entity (specifically, the County of Santa Clara) may not hire private lawyers to represent it on a contingency-fee basis. County of Santa Clara v. Atlantic Richfield Co., Santa Clara County Superior Court case no. 1-00-CV-788657, Order Regarding Defendants' Motion to Bar Payment of Contingent Fees to Private Attorneys, April 4, 2007. A writ petition was promptly filed, and the Court of Appeal issued an OSC soon thereafter.