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KXCI DEMOCRACY INITIATIVE
Gary Wolf to Bill Risner re: Ethics Complaint - 2-25-04 (added 3-28-04)*
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Letter from KXCI's attorney Gary Wolf to Bill Risner re: the
ethics complaint filed against Bill Risner for his involvement
in DI issues (letter dated 2-27-04) 
-

February 27, 2004

Mr. William Risner, Esq.

RISNER &GRAHM

 

RE: KXCI

 

Dear Mr. Risner:

 

We are in receipt of your February 26, 2004 response and would encourage you to not only review the Ethical Cannons, but also the advisory opinions and case law regarding your acts and omissions. We regret to inform you that your February 26 response does not begin to address the ethical issues of concern. Suffice it to say that we take issue with the sum and substance of your February 26 letter and we will let the Ethics Committee address any remaining concerns not addressed herein.

 

In your letter, your comparing the legal work you performed for the Pima County Board of Supervisors is really comparing apples and oranges. As you know, different rules apply when dealing with governmental organizations versus private parties and private entities. KXCI is not considered a governmental organization and therefore must be afforded the same standard of care as any other private client, whether legal work was performed pro bono or not.

 

I am basically a transactional attorney and corporate counsel and sit on various Boards of both for-profit and nonprofit organizations and unfortunately, one of the occupational hazards of sitting on Boards and also providing legal advice (pro bono or not) is that one thereafter becomes "conflicted out" of any future disputes (and not just disputes relating to a particular subject matter). One of the primary rules stressed at almost every CLE seminar regarding attorneys that sit on Boards is that one cannot thereafter represent adverse interests against that same organization, whereas at best it creates the appearance of impropriety and at worst it creates an actual conflict of interest, as it has done in this case.

 

We also acknowledge your own admissions in your February 26 letter that you in fact represented KXCI as counsel (regardless of how long ago). The KXCI minutes are also replete with numerous other references and examples of internal and external legal matters to which you attended for KXCI up through (as you suggest) 1992. Therefore, the only remaining issue is how much damage have you actually caused KXCI.

 

It is also important to note that KXCI came to me primarily for my expertise in the areas of corporate law, since I have formed and represent many nonprofit and for-profit organizations. They initially were soliciting my opinion on the Bylaws and Bylaw procedures, contrary to your allegations they initially hired me to attack you. It was only after I learned about your role as both counsel for KXCI and counsel against KXCI that an ethical red flag went up for me (as it should) and the KXCI legal billings reflect this fact. I therefore regret to inform you that your "cloak and dagger" conspiracy theory about the KXCI Board being elite insiders that are out to get you and destroy the autonomy of the KXCI members is specious at best. By the way, were you not also a self-proclaimed KXCI insider for 10 years?

 

I previously solicited ethics opinions from several members of the Ethics Committee regarding my own role as a Board member on various nonprofit Boards and providing occasional pro bono legal advise. Without exception, each member's advice to me was the same, mainly "do not thereafter represent adverse interests against the organization." You also quoted my February 19 letter on your unnumbered Page 6 of your February 26 letter and claiming the following to be "sheer nonsense."

 

"You have undoubtedly used your inside knowledge of KXCI to your advantage as to how KXCI makes decisions, settles cases, analyzes conflicts, conducts meetings, reviews issues, prepares legal documents and records information. Your inside information and knowledge has placed you and your present Democracy Initiative clients at an advantage and placed your former client KXCI, at a disadvantage."

 

It may interest you to know that much of the wording about inside knowledge referenced in my above quote originally came from one of the members of the Ethics Committee when they were originally advising me (and lawyers like yourself) not to represent adverse interests against such organizations. You are thus claiming the Ethics Committee member who advised me is basically "a moron attorney.  You will undoubtedly have an opportunity to explain your views in greater detail to the Committee, whereas our Bar Complaint was forwarded to the Ethics Committee yesterday when we failed to receive a timely response from you.

 

This February 27 letter and your February 26 letter will also be forwarded to the Ethics Committee for their review. Bill, it seems clear from your response that you feel you have done nothing wrong, that you do not appreciate the gravity of the situation and you feel you have carte blanche to represent any party against any former client you wish, so long as it does not involve the same subject matter. I disagree and I know members of the Ethics Committee disagree as well.

 

Respectfully,

 

Gary A. Wolf

 

GAW/ac