Carl K. Newton, Downey's city attorney for five years, resigned Jan. 1 to become city attorney of the newly incorporated City of Santa Clarita.
Lawyer Peter M. Thorson, who works for the same Los Angeles law firm as Newton--Burke, Williams & Sorensen--has been filling in, and the City Council is scheduled to formally appoint him to the post Tuesday, an official said.
Newton was appointed Downey's city attorney in December, 1982. Two years later, he became entangled in the city's legal fight over redevelopment.
A judge invalidated a 386-acre addition to Downey's redevelopment district in 1985 because Councilman James S. Santangelo had a conflict of interest when he voted for the expansion. Santangelo, who owned property in the original district and the expansion area, blamed Newton for giving him legal advice that led to the tainted vote. Newton has declined to comment publicly on the issue.
The lower court decision, which included an award of attorneys' fees, was upheld by the California 2nd District Court of Appeal last month. On Monday, Downey paid $314,673.28 in attorneys' fees to Downey CARES, the group of local property owners who sued to stop the redevelopment plan.
Newton said he left Downey for the challenge of guiding a new city. Newton and city officials said the change was not related to the redevelopment case.