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Legislation would extend contract for attorney in PAB lawsuit

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As the legal fight over the newly-formed Rochester Police Accountability Board continues, Rochester City Council is poised to set aside another $50,000 to pay the law firm it hired to defend the board’s legality.

City Council already has a contract with New York City-based law firm Emery, Celli, Brinkerhoff & Abady, LLP, and it’s considering legislation this month that would extend the agreement and increase the maximum compensation to the firm from $50,000 to $100,000. The firm’s founding partner, Andrew Celli, has represented Council in the case.

The legislation was submitted by Mayor Lovely Warren, and will go to a vote on Tuesday, Feb. 18. The funding will be pulled from the 2019-20 budget of the City Council and Clerk.

The Rochester Police Locust Club union is suing the city over the Police Accountability Board. The Locust Club has argued that the board is unconstitutional and in violation of the union’s contract with the city.

On the day of the Police Accountability Board’s first meeting — Tuesday, January 28 — state Supreme Court Justice John Ark signed an injunction curtailing the board’s disciplinary and investigative powers. The injunction will last at least six months or until the litigation — including appeals — is complete.

Councilmember Malik Evans said retaining their counsel is necessary as the case drags on.



“This is an extension as we’re still in the court process right now,” Evans said.

If the the court ultimately rules against the PAB, Evans said Council will be reevaluating legal avenues.

Gino Fanelli is a CITY staff writer. He can be reached at gfanelli@gmail.com.