Orange County D.A. raids police union law firm, seizes records

Costa Mesa Mayor Jim Righeimer claims he was being set up when a private eye called 911 to report that he appeared to be driving drunk.
(Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)

Orange County district attorney investigators have raided an Upland-based law firm accused of bullying civic leaders in Southern California in their aggressive representation of police and their unions.

The search of Lackie, Dammeier, McGill & Ethir comes after the firm announced last month that it would be dissolving following a series of scandals and a lawsuit filed by a pair of Costa Mesa council members who alleged the firm was harassing them for political gain.

The San Bernardino County Sentinel, which first reported the story, said that investigators left the law office carrying boxes of documents.


The search warrant included a Rancho Cucamonga home owned by the family of one of the firm’s partners, Dieter Dammeier, the Voice of OC reported.

The district attorney’s office did not return did not return phone calls seeking comment; neither did the managing partner for the law firm.

A private detective who worked with the firm was investigated by the Orange County district attorney after allegedly tailing a Costa Mesa councilman from a local pub in 2012 and alerting police that the elected official appeared to be drunk.

Then-Councilman Jim Righeimer, who was perceived as being a critic of the city’s police union, later passed a sobriety test and produced a receipt for two Diet Cokes.

In September, the law firm, which has represented law enforcement agencies across California, said that it would be “winding down and eventually close,” according to a letter signed by attorney Dammeier to one of his police association clients. The letter was obtained by the Daily Pilot.

Dammeier also writes of a “mass exodus” of attorneys amid the recent “turmoil.” It does not specify the timeline of the firm’s dissolution.


Righeimer, now the city’s mayor, and another council member are suing the law firm, alleging emotional distress caused by its aggressive tactics. The Orange County Superior Court lawsuit, which also names the private detective and the Costa Mesa Police Officers’ Assn., alleges intimidation and harassment. It was filed in August.

Public officials in several Southern California communities have complained about the law firm’s tactics on behalf of police unions.

The firm also published online some advice in the form a “playbook” showing how to pressure elected and appointed officials into acquiescing to union demands.


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Bradley Zint and Jeremiah Dobruck writes for Times Community News