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What they would do as L.A. city attorney

January 29, 2009 |  9:45 pm

In the Los Angeles city attorney's race, one of the chief criticisms leveled by a number of candidates against the race's front-runner, Jack Weiss, is that he is would use the office as a springboard to higher office. But at a forum tonight sponsored by the Assn. of Black City Attorneys, Weiss, who currently serves as a councilman for 5th District, pledged that he would not run for any office other than city attorney in 2013.

Two other candidates participating in the forum, environmental lawyer Carmen Trutanich and Deputy City Atty. Michael Amerian, made the same pledge.

Asked how their leadership would differ from that of current City Atty. Rocky Delgadillo, Trutanich and Weiss pledged to be more accessible to their deputies.

"The eighth-floor doors are coming down. I want my office to be open to everyone in the office," said Trutanich, who also touted his proposals to boost training of attorneys and to hire a team of city attorney investigators to serve subpoenas and interview witnesses.

Weiss pledged "an open-door policy from day one" for every assistant city attorney. "There won't be any key-card system," he said. Weiss said that over his 7 1/2 years as a city councilman, he's missed practicing law and that he planned not only to dig into casework in the city attorney's office but to appear in court from time to time.

Amerian, whose most recent assignment has been in the city attorney's gang unit, has been less critical of Delgadillo's leadership. If elected, Amerian said he would assign more cases to attorneys geographically to improve the office's relationship with communities, and said he would work with the union to create a more transparent system for promoting employees. "Our current merit-and-promotion system is broken," he said. "We need to develop and encourage leadership in our office."

The three candidates answered many of the same questions in separate sessions at the forum at First African Methodist Episcopal Renaissance Center, and were asked to leave the room while their opponents spoke.

Two other candidates, Deputy Dist. Atty. David Berger and Marina del Rey attorney Noel Weiss, were not part of the forum. But Berger, who had alleged he was excluded for political reasons, was permitted to speak briefly at the conclusion of the forum, during which he apologized to the event organizers for "jumping to conclusions."

The three candidates invited to speak had contacted the group last year asking for sit-down interviews.

-- Maeve Reston