Edinburg has opted for new legal representation, the contract of which will be released this week, according to city officials.
At the City Council meeting on Oct. 6, Mayor Richard Garcia was the first to recommend that the city enter into negotiations with the law firm of Gonzalez and Palacios LLP and the Law Office of Cynthia Contreras Gutierrez for legal representation for the City of Edinburg. The decision now ends current city attorney Ric Gonzalez’s tenure representing the city, but Garcia hinted at employing Gonzalez later for legal issues regarding property and closings.
“I was interested in putting together a good defense team for the city, and as it came together I think this is an ideal situation,” Garcia said. “Now we have a full team to where we don’t have to be looking around for lawyers whenever we have lawsuit situations or eminent domain situations.”
Gonzalez and Palacios LLP is staffed by 10 attorneys along with a support staff that offer various areas of expertise, according to the city. Those attorneys are Steven Gonzalez, Ricardo Palacios, William R. Garcia, Gerald E. Castillo, Marion R. Lawler, Edward J. Castillo, Eloy Hernandez, Claudia D. Cantu, Jesus A. Zambrano and Criselda Palacios.
Ricardo Palacios is the nephew of Mayor Garcia’s law partner Terry Palacios, a fact Garcia acknowledged but denied any legal conflict with the city’s decision to hire the firm.
“If you get into a legal conflict … it’s a father-son brother-sister kind of thing. I don’t see or anticipate any problems there. But at any rate, certainly it will be addressed if anything like that comes up,” Garcia told the Edinburg Review. “It’s a very large family in the City of Edinburg, and we also have my partner’s uncle (Fred Palacios) who serves on Planning and Zoning and the EDC, and they were there before I got there. It’s just the nature of the beast of the Valley. Everywhere you turn, you have a cousin or someone who is a relative.”
The Law Office of Cynthia Contreras Gutierrez is staffed by three attorneys and also utilizes the services of Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa. The firm specializes in corporate law, civil litigation, employment law, real estate and governmental law cases. Past clients include the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Department and currently the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation.
Attorneys at the firm include Gutierrez, Melissa Carranza and Dale S. Kasofsky. In their appeal to city the firm says Hinojosa’s “insight into the legislative process and workings of state government will play an invaluable part” in the representation by the firm to the city.
City Councilmembers have assured that the negotiation with the firm will not have to pass through the Council again. The decision is now in city manager JJ Rodriguez’s hands to negotiate the contract. Rodriguez is currently reviewing the proposal from the law firm and hopes to have a contract signed this week following negotiations. Current city attorney Ric Gonzalez and former attorney Dan Rios received a monthly payment of $17,500 and $20,000 respectively.