Weekend Open Thread: Briscoe & Fink own Peterson & Gates

[Ed. Note: Greg here. I’ve mentioned a few times that there was a story about Michael Gates that I had never gotten around to finishing before, in my opinion, it had become stale. This press release involves that story — but also goes way beyond it, because local attorney Lee Fink took the bull by the horns (with John Briscoe as his client) and defeated power-mad Gates and his gulled enabler Erik Peterson quite soundly in court We owe Lee two endorsements for this, maybe more.]


April 21, 2023

Orange County Superior Court Orders Former Huntington Beach City Councilmember to Pay More Than $60,000 in Attorneys’ Fees and Costs

HUNTINGTON BEACH, CA – The Orange County Superior Court ordered former Huntington Beach City Councilmember Erik Peterson to pay $60,175 in attorneys’ fees in litigation where the Court held that the City Council had legally hired an outside law firm to investigate the City Attorney’s office’s handling of employment discrimination cases filed against City Attorney Michael E. Gates.

In its April 12, 2023, ruling, the Court stated that “[b]y obtaining this important clarification on the measure’s purported ramifications, [Briscoe] enforced “‘“an important right affecting the public interest”’” and conferred “‘“a significant benefit . . . on the general public or a large class of persons.”’”

The award stems from election litigation in September 2022.  Peterson had written an official ballot statement opposing Measure N, a proposed Charter Amendment.  In that statement, Peterson claimed that the City Council had violated the City Charter when it hired an outside law firm to investigate the City Attorney’s office.  Both Peterson and Gates had argued that the City Attorney could prevent the City Council from hiring outside lawyers, even when the City Attorney had a conflict of interest or had to investigate himself.

Huntington Beach resident John Briscoe, a former Ocean View School District Trustee, asked the Court to strike Peterson’s claims from the official ballot statement because they were false and misleading.  The Superior Court agreed, striking portions of the ballot statement in a September 1, 2022, ruling.

Mr. Briscoe commented about the Court’s ruling:  “I refused to stand by and let Mr. Peterson lie and mislead voters about the City Attorney and City Council.  The Court has agreed with me, and put an exclamation point on it by ordering that I recover my attorneys’ fees for this case.  Mike E. Gates, the only elected city attorney in the County, has taken a ludicrous position that he is the ‘people’s attorney’ and essentially answerable to no one for his conduct or that of his office.  The Court has—again—definitively said that he is wrong, and has now made people pay for lying about it.”

Lee Fink, who represented Mr. Briscoe, commented:  “This puts to rest the issue for the people of Huntington Beach.  The Court has made clear that—even in a Charter City—when the City Attorney has a conflict of interest, the City Council, as the governing body for the City, has the right to engage its own lawyers.  The Court’s award of attorneys’ fees makes clear that this clarification of the law was a significant benefit to the public.”

In addition to the attorneys’ fees, Peterson had earlier agreed to pay $973.13 to Mr. Briscoe for his filing fees and other Court costs.

The order granting attorneys’ fees is attached.

Contact: Lee Fink, (949) 328-xxxx Lee@BrowerLawGroup.com

Vern note:
I know that Michael E. Gates HATES it when Briscoe calls him “Mike E.” –
which is pronounced “Mikey.”

Gadfly Briscoe, well-represented.

This is your new weekend open thread.


About Admin

"Admin" is just editors Vern Nelson, Greg Diamond, or Ryan Cantor sharing something that they mostly didn't write themselves, but think you should see. Before December 2010, "Admin" may have been former blog owner Art Pedroza.