PHIL IN THE BLANK: Legal eagles

I’m learning some legal jargon while covering the City of the Village of Clarkston’s lawsuits.
Like city attorney Thomas Ryan’s “Lone Rangering,” “lone wolfing,” and “shotgunning” references, when he’s talking about how it’s not just him saying the 18 documents at issue in the case should not be released.
Also, the “Chinese wall,” mentioned by attorney James Tamm at Monday’s meeting.
That one seems an old-fashioned term probably considered vaguely racist nowadays, but defined as a “screening barricade established within a law firm to prevent conflicts of interests between associates.”
Also interesting is how the Freedom of Information Act loses to confidentiality between lawyers, “fair dealing with brother or sister counsel,” as Ryan referred to it.
Courtrooms control information in order to provide fair trials, with judges’ gag orders and disregard this and that, and lawyers objecting to questions their clients shouldn’t be answering.
Local government should be different.
If elected to City Council, your job is to counter that inclination because you want as much information as possible to make your best decisions, and also because you’re spending friends’ and neighbors’ money.
Council members embrace the let-the-sunshine-in approach to varying degrees.
Council member David Marsh seems solidly in the this-town-is-one-big-courtroom camp, even boycotting my election questionnaire because I asked about the lawsuits.
“You see, when you have always made the right decision based on the information you have been given and have never lied to the community…” – this is a true believer in his cause.
“As journalists you should, and probably do, know better than to ask any member of council to make comments on ongoing litigation,” he emailed to me (and the other candidates and the city attorney).
Well, Mr. Marsh should, and probably does, know I’m away from the News office on Tuesday mornings when he has his Q&A hours, working on the week’s production. Or still at home after our monthly Monday production. Tuesdays evenings aren’t good either, since that’s the end of the production week.

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