An animal rights group will likely appeal an Indio judge’s ruling to disqualify attorneys representing it in a suit against the Palm Springs Animal Shelter, a spokeswoman for the group said.
Riverside Superior Court Judge John G. Evans granted a motion Monday by shelter attorneys to disqualify Marla Tauscher, a private practice attorney in Palm Springs representing the Animal Legal Defense Fund, and fund attorney Michelle Lee.
Evans granted the motion because Tauscher at one point gave Friends of the Palm Springs Animal Shelter legal advice, helped prepare manuals and waivers and attended at least one closed-door board meeting, according to court records.
Lee was disqualified because she had access to the information Tauscher had, Palm Springs city attorney Doug Holland said.
"Disqualification is mandatory in light of the substantial relationship,” court records on the ruling stated. “It is immaterial that Ms. Tauscher did not have an express contact for legal services, as an attorney-client relationship can be established when the attorney volunteers his or her legal services or otherwise provides legal advice to a prospective client even where there is no free agreement.”
Friends of the Palm Springs Animal Shelter is a nonprofit group that raised money to build the new city shelter, scheduled to open Oct. 22.
The Animal Legal Defense Fund filed a suit in April against the city alleging the shelter euthanizes animals too quickly and has lax record-keeping.
“Even though we have an abundance of evidence about the unlawful killing of animals at the Palm Springs Shelter, the city has maneuvered to try to kill the case by getting rid of the lawyers representing the interests of the animals,” said Lisa Franzetta of the Animal Legal Defense Fund.
“We are currently considering our next legal options for how best to win the justice that the homeless animals of Palm Springs so desperately need and deserve.”
A status hearing is scheduled for Dec. 2 at the Larson Justice Center in Indio. Full story
Lawsuit alleges Palm Springs Animal Shelter Euthanizes Too Soon