Been Wondering- WHY didn't Somervell County Attorney Andrew Lucas have a contract with outside attorney Mackenzie
20 December 2019 at 12:56:41 PM
As has been mentioned before, Somervell County Attorney Andrew Lucas was deposed before the final judgment hearing in the case he pursued State of Texas ex rel Best v Harper. One of the items he was asked by Harper's attorney was about whether Lucas had an engagement letter or engagement agreement with Mr C Alfred Mackenzie, the attorney he'd been using to fight his frivolous lawsuit. He siad there wasn't, along with saying that it's the County that is paying MacKenziie's bills. (See video and transcription at this link in which he says the above.)
Again, I am astonished. How is it then, that there is any kind of enforceable contract in which MacKenzie's charge per hour is specified, length of contract, other expenses (such as travel, etc) are specified? Is this just sort of some kind of shaking hands agreement or is MacKenzie a pal of Lucas? Doesn't sound like there was any type of format bidding process for him, perhaps Lucas just up and went out, opened the phone book and found the first attorney with Appeal in his website name. Who knows?
But SHOULDN'T we know? And shouldn't there be, especially when taxpayer money is involved, a LETTER OF AGREEMENT OR CONTRACT of some kind? What if MacKenzie decided to charge an extra $100 per hour? Without a contract, how could he be held to the terms? Frankly, I expect better of an ATTORNEY.
I also expect better of Somervell County Commissioners and Judge Danny Chambers who have been paying for this bill since at least 2016. See "At Least Eleven Times Where Somervell County Commisioners Paid the Bills for the State of Texas ex rel Best v Harper case". Really, NO questions about this? Yes, I understand that the County Attorney's office is an independent entity BUT WE pay, by Somervell County paying for Lucas's bills, for these types of things (adding that since Lucas lost as the State of Texas in the State of Texas ex rel Best v Harper case, the Texas Attorney General says that Somervell County has to pay for the judgment Lucas cast upon us). . As a ridiculous comparison, at a recent County Comissioners meeting, there was a talk by Kelly Harris, who was hired by the county a month or so ago, about sending out an RFP to get approved caterers to be on a list to use for events, in which they would also be paying a fee. You simply can't tell me there's not at least SOME piece of paper that would codify that or why would the caterers give money to be on a list without some sort of written agreement?
Contrast that with what I heard from the Somervell County Hospital District meeting in September, in which the board brought in an attorney who works on a contingency basis, to try to recover all the lab fees that Blue Cross Blue Shield will not pay for. In the meeting from December 5, 2019, Ray Reynolds explained that the board had to go to the Texas Attorney General's office to ask for approval to hire this attorney, and you know dang well there will be a signed contract over it should they get that permission. In fact, looks like the Texas Legislature passed a law regarding attorneys, including contingency attorneys, this last session, in part to cut down on the alleged problem of preying attorneys that might not be qualified. I have to assume as well that if an attorney is being contracted on a contingency basis, that one would still need to spell out the terms so that the amounts didn't become outrageous for taxpayers to shoulder.
So back to Andrew Lucas. My opinion of him is that he is incompetent. And this is one item that shows it, because it ought to be a basic tenet to HAVE A CONTRACT with someone you are having to pay, particularly when it's an outside attorney where you apparently don't have the skills to handle a lawsuit by yourself. Don't forget this man is elected, and, should other, more competent attorneys run against him, he could be out of his on-the-taxpayer-funded- dole job for Somervell County. Probably too late for this next election season, unless someone runs as an independent, but it sure is a good question to consider.