Attorneys reject SLO’s donation request

January 24, 2013
Stew Jenkins

Stew Jenkins

The two attorneys who were awarded fees for their suit against the city of San Luis Obispo for unconstitutional treatment of the homeless, rejected the city’s request that they donate half the money to a local charity.

On Wednesday, the city sent the request offering not to appeal the $133,880 fee judgment if attorneys Saro Rizzo and Stew Jenkins agreed to donate half of their hourly pay in the civil suit to San Luis Obispo Community Action Partnership.

Shortly after receiving the request, the attorneys rejected the city’s attempt to have them donate to a charity in which San Luis Obispo City Councilman John Ashbaugh sits on the board.

“That request was rejected,” Jenkins said. “A proposed form of judgment incorporating the superior court’s order that the city pay the SLO Homeless Alliance lawyers private attorney general fees was subsequently delivered to the city attorney.”

Nevertheless, Rizzo and Jenkins donated their services while defending homeless clients in the criminal matters related to sleeping in vehicles, which at their regular rate would come to approximately $60,000, and they are not requesting reimbursement.


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How much more money will be wasted by the San Luis City Council? Wouldn’t it now be prudent to pay the attorney fees, acknowledge some bad advise and put the entire matter behind as a failure of the local city council to fully comprehend the real facts of this case?

BUT no one on the SLO City council is still willing to admit mistakes were made and use the taxpayers money in a wiser manner to limit future wasted expenditures!

How fun it must be to spend TAXPAYERS money with abandon!

The city fails to highlight that they paid an outside firm the same amount, $130,000, to defend the city… they didn’t ask that firm to donate half…. why should these guys be asked to donate??

The fact that Assbreath got re-elected tells me that SLO voters are idiots and get the low quality representation that they deserve.

I had to give you a “thumbs down” due to your last sentence. I agree 100% with your first sentence; you don’t have to go all nasty on John Ashbaugh to make your point though. While I have a lot of agreement with John’s political views, I do not like many of his actions as a councilman. No need to be juvenile.

Lawyers are overpaid. How arrogant that they charge as much for an hour of their time as many of us make in a week! Nonetheless, these guys took an unpopular case nobody else would touch, and they deserve to decide for themselves how to use their court-granted fees. The city’s arrogant belief that they can punch them around, and then after losing tell them what to do with their fees, is ridiculous. Good for them for standing up to the city. Odds are they’ll end up doing some public good with the money and not just pocketing it all.

Now, will blowhard Ashbaugh’s promise that the city will now seek further judicial review of the court-ordered payment come to pass? Idiots if they follow that path — better to pay up now and not waste anymore taxpayer funds on a losing proposition. But then, who said they aren’t idiots?


It seems as though lawyers are never overpaid when they get their clients off on a murder rap, or a DUI, etc.

Don’t worry about the fact that they may make more in one hour than some do in a week. If this bothers you, then maybe you should change professions? It was your choice, and others as well, not to be paid as well as the lawyers of mention.

If you ever get a DUI, will you be handling it yourself in a court of law? Or, will you be hiring that damn lawyer that specializes in DUI’s that makes too much money in handling these cases?

It’s all relative.

Hi Jinks, doctors are paid as much as atty’s are they too over paid when they save a life?

These guys go to school for quite a long time and ring up some big bills doing so. They seem countless hours away from family and friends defending people during big trials, yet you say they are over paid.

How about the prosecuting atty’s who put serial murderers away and make society safe, are they too over paid.

Atleast in this country we are allowed to decide if we want to go to school and get an education that pays well in the job of our choice.And at any time you can go back to school to improve your education,thus increasing your pay, hopefully. Do not hold it against those who choose to do the job of defending or prosecuting those who can not and do not follow the laws of the land. I don’t know what kind of job you have, maybe you ought to be thankful you have one at all in this economy.

And these guys do not start off making big bucks, they have to prove themselves in court and be such that people are willing to hire them.

I personally am glad they choose to take on the city on the behalf of those who are homeless. They went out and put themselves in the homeless shoes and therefore know of what they speak. Have you done anything to realize what these people go thru just trying to stay alive. Not all homeless are drunks, do drugs ect….

It is not that lawyers are necessarily overpaid (some are, some aren’t), it is that the the legal concept of “ethics” has grown too far apart from the moral concepts of “ethics” that most people have. We now have a legal system that values absurd technicalities above any recognizable sense of justice. It is ALL about “winning” a legal argument based on those technicalities and rarely can someone without a professional education in legal procedures get justice without the aid of someone who has one — even when justice should be on his/her side.

I can understand that lawyers need to recoup their educational costs and overhead. I can understand that some lawyers like Jenkins and Rizzo need to also recoup the expenses of “pro bono” work done for those who cannot afford lawyers otherwise and would be legally abused without such representation. I can even understand, to a degree, that the best lawyers should be reimbursed at a higher rate than the less competent ones.

What I cannot understand is the tolerance of the general public for a system that requires such an absurd amount of technical expertise to have any chance of success in achieving justice. Why do we continue to allow lawyers to dominate the legislative proceedings that set the rules for justice? Whether they are themselves lawyers or simply rely too heavily on lawyers for advice, politicians that we elect are the ones that, at the very least, allow this to happen.

Picayune rules set for the convenience of the court system should not overcome a person’s claim to justice. Laws should not need to be written in a language that is marginally comprehensible to someone with a decent education. Justice should be based on recognizable principals rather than “the letter of the law” when that “letter” is in conflict with such principals.

The sad thing is that most people don’t think about the abusive elements in our legal system until they suffer from the application of them. By then it is too late and application of the overwhelming force behind the laws makes it virtually impossible to fight back. Until we collectively demand better through the political process, we are “asking” for this to occur.

This is why protection of “Constitutional Rights” is so important. They provide what slim (albeit far too lengthy) protections we have against abuse by those in power. Kudos to Jenkins and Rizzo for taking up this fight. Some of their clients in this case may be “undeserving” of generous treatment by the law but they all deserve the right to a fair hearing of their case against the arrogant, elitist power structure that voters have allowed to exist. If they lose that right, so do the rest of us.

Is it just me, or do attorney’s seem to be paid/charge too much money? There is that old saying about the lone attorney in town going broke until a second attorney moved in; then business was booming. It seems like a self perpetuating system.

The same can be said for politicians

Absolutely not, NOT even the homeless they donated their pretty faces to