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STATEMENT: 2009-08-20

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Herrera Issues Guidance to Board, Mayor Following Disclosure of Legal Advice

Release of confidential memo on Campos Amendment may have endangered City's litigation position

SAN FRANCISCO (Aug. 20, 2009) -- City Attorney Dennis Herrera today issued legal guidance to elected City policymakers and their staffs following the disclosure to the San Francisco Chronicle of a privileged and confidential City Attorney memorandum on a proposed amendment by Supervisor David Campos to San Francisco's Sanctuary Ordinance. The Chronicle did not reveal its source in obtaining the document in its news report this morning, and the City Attorney's Office is not aware of a City official or employee who has acknowledged responsibility for the disclosure. Thus, the disclosure may have been unauthorized.

Herrera's written legal guidance has been published to the City Attorney's Web site at http://www.sfcityattorney.org/index.aspx?page=185.

In addition, Herrera offered the following statement:

    "The integrity of the attorney-client relationship is essential to my ability to do my job effectively, and, by extension, to the ability of all City officials to be fully apprised of legal issues that may accompany their proposals. Attorney-client confidentiality intends to enable my office to provide legal counsel to City officials, candidly and completely, unfettered by risk of disclosure to potentially adverse parties. It also intends to assure a level playing field to the interests of San Francisco taxpayers in civil litigation.
    "Confidential legal advice is not intended to be fodder in political disputes. Principles of comity in the legislative process dictate that confidential legal advice should not be used in this fashion. Disclosure of such advice can ultimately undermine our City's ability to govern responsibly and defend itself effectively."

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Last updated: 12/22/2009 10:24:01 AM