Municipal Law

 

Government litigation can be challenging. Representing a city, state, municipality, school district or university involves policy and sovereignty issues you don’t find in private sector litigation.

To represent the public interest, an attorney needs the right skillset: an objective view of the facts, a strong understanding of public records law and a powerful presence in the courtroom.

 

At Lincoln Derr, we’ve developed a team of legal experts with interdisciplinary experience across hundreds of cases. Together, we can help municipalities and other governmental bodies with the following matters:

  • ZEmployment Matters
  • ZFirst Amendment and Separation of Powers Issues
  • ZPublic Records Requests
  • ZConflict of Interest Allegations
  • ZGovernment Contract Disputes
  • ZPolice Use of Force Claims
  • ZPremises Liability Claims
  • ZInternal Investigations
  • ZGovernment Employee Motor Vehicle Negligence
  • ZPublic Official Liability

We Have Credibility in Federal Court

Municipal cases are a different breed. For one, they are more likely to be heard in federal court, and that’s an arena where Lincoln Derr attorneys excel.

Our success stems from a deep understanding of federal court judges and their procedures. In federal court, jury trials are few and far between. In most cases, your fate rests with the judge. Attorneys have to prioritize making strong legal arguments over courtroom theatrics. And that’s what our team is trained to do.

Get a Fresh Perspective

Whether the case is a government tort or a §1983 civil rights case, our detail-oriented team can step in to work with public entities to outline a clear path forward. We can also draw on a breadth of legal knowledge to assist public officials and administrators with day-to-day operations such as interpreting regulations and other forms of governance.

Manage Public Records Correctly

Government business creates a paper trail regulated under state public records laws and the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Public institutions must comply with record requests under these laws, while respecting sensitive information and the privacy of their employees.

The disclosure of public records can shape impending litigation, so it is important to develop a thorough and organized process for record retention as well as proper disclosure under the law. At Lincoln Derr, we help clients protect private information and the public interest.

We’re Proud to Represent the Public Good

Municipalities and other public institutions are always working with tight resources, and every dollar allocated for legal expenses comes from taxpayers. Sometimes, it can be difficult to balance the need for outside counsel with fiscal responsibility.

At Lincoln Derr, we have the advantage of being a smaller firm with an established reputation in court and lower overhead. While the billable hour reigns supreme among our competitors, we pride ourselves in offering options that suit a variety of needs. Public service is a calling for us, too, so we do everything we can to support local governments with more muscle and none of the fat.

MUNICIPAL LAW FAQ’s

When should a local government hire outside counsel?

Sometimes, circumstances arise where in-house counsel isn’t best suited to represent the public interest. This often comes up in personnel matters or matters involving elected officials. In-house attorneys often develop a professional relationship with many government employees and public officials. Outside counsel can objectively cross-examine these witnesses to prevent any appearance of a conflict of interest or other impropriety.

Is a city required to defend its employees in court?

When government employees are fulfilling their job duties, they are generally considered to be acting on behalf of the public. If an employee is sued for an action that is outside the scope of his or her duties, the city is under no obligation to defend them in court and most often will not provide a lawyer for that employee. However, if the alleged action is within the scope of that employee’s duties, the interests of the city and the employee may be the same, meaning one attorney or law firm could represent both. The concept of “governmental immunity” could come into play, but we recommend having an attorney review the facts of any case.

Does the attorney-client privilege apply to government entities and their lawyers?

Some information can be withheld under the attorney-client privilege, but that is a fact-specific inquiry best determined on a case-by-case basis. This privilege is restricted for municipalities under North Carolina law. If you’re interested in more information about the application of the attorney-client privilege in government litigation, we’re happy to answer any questions you might have.

Is your municipality in need of outside counsel? Are you ready for bold leadership? Contact us today to schedule a consultation.