The Spokane City Council on Monday agreed to hire a local attorney to help the city defend itself in a lawsuit filed by a Spokane police detective.
The city will pay Milt Rowland, a former assistant city attorney for Spokane, up to $75,000 to assist the city in the case brought by Detective Jay Mehring. Rowland is part of the firm Foster Pepper.
Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick placed Mehring on unpaid leave after he was charged with felony harassment in March 2007. He was acquitted by a jury and received back pay. His suit alleges that Kirkpatrick continued to make public statements accusing Mehring of threatening his wife even after he was acquitted.
Rowland is the second attorney hired by the city to help with the case. The council approved another contract of up to $75,000 for Elizabeth Kennar of the Summit Law Group, last month. Assistant City Attorney Erin Jacobson said Rowland will perform most the work not done by city staff members but that Kennar may still work on the case – though she is highly unlikely to reach the maximum amount allowed by her contract.
The council voted 6-0 to approve Rowland’s contract. City Councilman Steve Corker was absent at Monday’s afternoon meeting.