Center for Justice loses lawyer
Poor finances, political aspirations behind Beggs’ decision to leave firm
Breean Beggs, the self-described chief catalyst for the public interest law firm Center for Justice, announced his resignation Monday, citing both fewer financial resources at the firm and aspirations for a future run at public office.
Beggs, 47, quickly said he has no public office in mind, especially the already contentious race for Spokane County prosecutor.
“Most of my life that has been my dream,” Beggs said of seeking public office. “I plan to stay in Spokane, raise my kids a little older and look for the right office at the right time. I will take all those issues I learned and take them inside government instead of outside.”
Until then, Beggs will work with the Spokane law firm of Paukert & Troppmann. He said he plans to litigate employment and injury cases in addition to civil rights and open-government work.
His resignation will not affect the ongoing federal civil rights case on behalf of the estate of Otto Zehm, the mentally ill janitor who died in 2006 while in the custody of Spokane police. Jeffry Finer will remain lead counsel on that case and Beggs said he will continue to contribute.
Former public defender Jim Sheehan founded the nonprofit Center for Justice in 1999 with his own funds. But the center now operates solely on contributions from foundations and grants, which have decreased in this poor economy. As a result, the firm went from six full-time attorneys to four working part time.
“Obviously, losing Breean is a huge loss. We just have to get together and determine what we are going to do now,” Sheehan said. “It’s hard to explain … what Breean has meant not only to the center but the entire community.”
Sheehan said he’s glad Beggs is remaining in Spokane and believes he would make an effective public servant.
“He isn’t interested in tearing people down. He’s interested in bringing people together from all sides and having everybody connect in a way where we can actually get something done,” Sheehan said. “A lot of people talk about that, but you don’t see it in their actions. You do with Breean.”