Pro bono solicitation fails to yield qualified firm--Funds sought for legal defense
News Release from County of Kauai, February 11, 2014
LĪHU‘E – A review committee has considered and rejected the lone submittal received in response to a solicitation for pro bono legal services to defend the County against a lawsuit filed against Ordinance 960, which was passed by the Kaua‘i County Council in November of 2013 to regulate pesticide use and other activities by certain agricultural entities on Kaua‘i.
The committee found the submission to be non-responsive to the bid requirements, and further determined that the firm did not have the requisite qualifications and experience for the job.
The pro bono solicitation was issued in response to offers by several law firms to represent the County free of charge in any lawsuit that might arise from the passage of Ordinance 960. On January 30, the day before the deadline for resume submissions, a protest to the solicitation was filed by Maui attorney Lance Collins.
The protest was denied on the grounds that it did not conform to requirements contained in Hawai‘i Administrative Rules (HAR) 3-126-3(c); however, Collins subsequently appealed the denial. A pre-hearing conference on the appeal is scheduled for Friday, February 14.
Although the appeal is pending, the qualification process was completed yesterday pursuant to HAR 3-126-5. The rule allows the procurement process to move forward, even while an appeal is in motion, if necessary to protect the substantial interests of the county.
“Normally, we would allow the appeal process to run its course,” explained Finance Director Steven Hunt. “However, the County is required to respond to the lawsuit filed in federal court over Ordinance 960 on the same date as the pre-hearing conference on the appeal. It is imperative that we secure representation as soon as possible so that we can respond to the lawsuit in a timely manner.”
As a result of the non-responsive bid and the absence of qualified applicants, the pro bono solicitation has concluded. The County will now seek to retain a law firm for the defense of the Ordinance 960 lawsuit from a pre-qualified list of attorneys for the current fiscal year, in accordance with Hawai‘i Revised Statutes (HRS) 103D-304. A request for special counsel funding in the amount of $75,000 will be heard by the County Council at their meeting on Wednesday, February 12. The request was forwarded to the Council last week as a contingency in the event that the pro bono solicitation was not successful.
If the funding is approved by the Council, a contract with the top ranked firm will be negotiated in a timely manner.
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February 8, 2014: Anti-GMO Lawyers Not Quite Pro-Bono
KGI: Pro-bono defense rejected (Clue: Neither of the two lawyers signing the letter below submitted an application to serve as pro-bono counsel for County of Kauai.)
KGI: Council Approves Lawsuit Money
SA: Kauai Council allocates $75K to make up for anti-GMO deadbeats
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FLASHBACK: “We urge you to allow Bill 2491 to become law. We will be there to defend it.”
October 18, 2013
Honorable Bernard P. Carvalho, Jr.
Mayor, County of Kauai
4444 Rice St., Suite 235
Lihue, HI 96766
Sent by Mail and Facsimile
Dear Mayor Carvalho,
Now that Bill 2491, as amended, has been passed by the Kaua’i County Council, Earthjustice and the Center for Food Safety would like to reiterate our commitment to defend the bill in the event of any legal challenge by the pesticide industry. We are working with interested community groups and individuals on a pro bono basis and are prepared to intervene in the event that the chemical companies challenge the bill in court.
Earthjustice is a national, nonprofit, public interest environmental law firm. Paul Achitoff has been Managing Attorney for the Honolulu office for the past twenty years, and during the past ten years he has focused on legal issues related to genetic engineering and the use of pesticides.
Center for Food Safety is a national, public interest organization with more than 300,000 members nationwide. CFS works to protect human health and the environment by curbing the use of harmful food production technologies. George Kimbrell is a Senior Attorney with CFS and practices environmental and administrative law in several areas including genetically engineered foods; transgenic plants, and pesticides
Together, we have worked together on several landmark lawsuits in Hawai‘i and nationally concerning genetically engineered (GE) crops and pesticides. We are familiar with the state and federal laws directly and indirectly governing such crops and pesticides as well as other environmental laws.
As we stated in our letter published in the Garden Island on October 3, we believe that Bill 2491 is sound, and the mere threat of a lawsuit by industry interests should not prevent you or the County from taking action you believe is important to the community.
We urge you to allow Bill 2491 to become law. We will be there to defend it.
George Kimbrell, Senior Attorney, Center for Food Safety
Paul Achitoff, Managing Attorney, EarthJustice, Mid-Pacific Office