Friday, August 14, 2015

How to Underperform and Make $300,000 - $400,000 a Year - Become Baldwin Park's City Attorney

Baldwin Park City Attorney Robert Nacionales Tafoya,
aka Robert Tafoya, Robert N. Tafoya, aka Robert Tafo, 
aka Robert Nacionales, aka Roberto Tafoya
Last month, throngs of law students took the infamous bar examination -which is the licensing examination for lawyers. It's reputed to be grueling and the statistics show that a great portion of people, especially in California fail. Well, this post is telling you how to make $300,000 - $400,000 a year, while not working hard or well: Be Baldwin Park's City Attorney.

City Attorney, Robert Nacionales-Tafoya has billed the city more than $300,000 a year. He won't release his attorney's bills under California Public Records law, but that's ok. I have a source on the inside that will help me put it together.

We have a hearing on Tuesday. For the third time, he submitted an opposition brief late. So, I had to write him a letter reminding him of the rules of court and conduct. It's a good read. It starts two paragraphs down.

Now, some people may criticize me because I shouldn't make these disputes public because it's between attorneys. To that, I say, yes, that's generally true. And on my blog, have I posted the bad conduct of other attorneys? No, even though I have experienced my fair share of it.

Remember, I'm a citizen and resident of Baldwin Park. I'm appalled that we spend so much money on this man. And I want everyone else to know how he behaves, because his behavior is public - as well as my letter. This is a public issue because it involves public money. Furthermore, this is the man who is the face of Baldwin Park in courts. It's not professional image of Baldwin Park.

Recently, I complained to the City Manager about the unprofessionalism and the lack of customer service in Baldwin Park - especially with the Director of Parks and Recreation, Manuel Carrillo Jr. My main complaints are generally that they break the law, are dishonest, and blame their problems on everything else. Well, it's no wonder - when you see how their legal adviser behaves and advises.

Aug. 13, 2015
To Robert Nacionales-Tafoya
Sent by email at

Re: Gentle Reminder on Rules of Court and Decorum

Dear Mr. Tafoya:

            I am writing this letter to gently remind you of the court rules and rules of decorum. It seems there has been some confusion over the matter, as your last three opposing motions have been submitted late. Yes, I can understand that the rules are a bit confusing; that is why I would like to help explain them to you

Although I usually reserve such letters for Pro Pers (those who represent themselves), I understand –as my mentor says – that we all need to refresh our understanding of basics – even when we have been litigating for 18 years. Currently, you are my opposing counsel on two cases, which I’ll refer to as Casas 1 (BS147794) and Casas 2 (BS147794).

            The Time to Submit Oppositions Are 10 Court Days

            Under Cal. Civ. Pro. Code 1005(b), you must submit your opposition 10 court days before the hearing date. For our Aug. 18, 2015 motion, you submitted your opposition only 5 court days before the hearing. This is 7 calendar days late for the court. This is 9 calendar days late for me.

            Now, I know it seems like it’s not that important of a matter to submit things on time, but it really is. The court must make the best decision possible on our hearings. And we want to respect the court, by giving the court ample time to review our work. When you submit things so late, I can’t possibly reply to your opposition in time for the court to review the work. That means there is information the court may not have. Hence, the court’s quality of work also goes down. I hope that gives you a good perspective on why you need to submit things on time. In this instance, this is the third time you’ve submitted papers late.

            Duty of Candor with the Court

            Mr. Tafoya, there is a duty of candor with the court, under the ethics rule of Prof. Conduct 5-200(B). It says you “Shall not seek to mislead the judge . . . by false statement of fact or law.” What that means, Mr. Tafoya is that you must always be honest with the court. I know that the temptation of not doing so was great for you when you intentionally misrepresented my signature to the court, but you must never do that again. The judge in Department 82 was clear to you to never file a stipulation by erasing my signature block because I refuse to sign something you want. A stipulation means that two parties agree to something. But since I didn’t agree to it, and you submitted a statement that says I stipulated to something, one can construe this as an intentional misrepresentation. This is because you told the court that I agreed to something I did not. Once again, I know the temptation to be dishonest is great, but please, as a litigator in court you must restrain yourself from time to time.

            Duty not to File Frivolous Motion

            I would like to remind you to not file frivolous motions with the court. The court is very busy, especially in the writ departments. In Casas 1, after the trial was won and the attorney’s fees were won, you filed nearly five motions for sanctions against me. All of your motions have been denied because you did not follow procedure or have merit.

I understand that the frustration was great for you, and it’s understandable that you believe that I was the cause of your frustration. Nonetheless, the court is not the appropriate venue to air your frustration. There are other channels to do this.

Now, I am not saying that you cannot file sanctions motions, but you need to have something called merit – which means good facts to support your cause. And if you have probable cause to do so, then it is in your discretion to do what you need to.

But, I ask that you at least follow the procedure rules, under Cal. Civ. Pro. Code Section 128.7. This is called the Safe Harbor Provision, in which you need to giving the opposing side a chance to cure whatever you think I am doing wrong. And if you tell why I’m wrong, and what I’m doing that is wrong, and I am wrong, I’m sure I will comply.

Furthermore, in Casas 1, you have filed a motion to tax (which is another version of sanctions), but you have filed this several months late. Also, a new case has been published that discusses that motions to tax cannot be filed in Public Records Act cases. Have you reviewed it yet? If not, I can send it to you.

Please be reminded when you file such unmeritorious filings, the court must read it. Court resources are scarce now, given the budget cuts. Therefore, I hope you can appreciate the court’s view.
Duty to Appear to Mandatory Meetings

Mr. Tafoya you must appear to court ordered meetings. The duty is imposed by the court, when the court asks us to meet.

You have already failed to appear to three of them. The first time was at the Trial Setting Conference in Casas 1. The second time was with my negotiator. The third time was in our court ordered meet and confer. In each of these instances, you’ve alleged that you’ve had an emergency – either with your son, at city hall, or with your associate (who had a fatal diabetic attack).

I know that managing your calendar can be a difficult task. I am not doubting that this happened, but it’s usually customary to send notice if this happens, instead of making people wait an hour or two – only for you to tell them later. This is because people value their time, and if you let them know in advance, they can use their time more productively than having to wait for a meeting that is not going to happen. After you give notice, people, like myself, will be more than happy to reschedule with you.

Cooperation with Basic Scheduling

            Cooperation is greatly helpful on matters, such as scheduling meetings. When I was opposing counsel with the prosecutor at the District Attorney Office, another government entity, we never had a problem with respecting each other’s schedule.

Now, I know that at times, Pro Pers believe they are “giving in” to the other side when they agree to a schedule change, but this is not so. As you’ve mentioned in your life: your son has emergencies, your associates have fatal diabetic attacks, your associates run off from you, and your associates don’t do the work you ask. Given the number of problems that have arisen, you have always expected me to be understanding of these issues, and I have done so. If you can do so for me, this would be helpful for both the court and me, because it would discharge the environment of conflict. When you do not agree to such requests, it forces me to request it from the court. And that just adds to their already full court load. I hope this perspective is helpful.

            Although you’ve been an attorney for 18 years, I know that this is the first time that you’ve been a city attorney – and so I’m understanding of the great challenges you’re facing. I’ve only been practicing for two years, and I’ve been finding litigation a completely new world. So, I understand. Feel free to email me if you need any clarification on the law. I will be happy to provide it.

Yours truly,

Paul Cook
Attorney at Law