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County commissioners approve letters of engagement

by | Dec 1, 2022 | Latest, News

Collin County is lawyering up as it engages with a federal lawsuit filed Oct. 31 in the Northern District Court of Texas.

The initial lawsuit alleges that Collin County District Attorney Greg Willis “created a toxic workplace by targeting female employees to try to flirt with or to direct outright sexual advances.” It also alleges First Assistant District Attorney Bill Wirskye’s office is run like  “a crass, misogynistic fraternity” that has “systemic hazing of the county’s attorneys, investigators and staff.”

Willis has previously denied claims of wrongdoing in his Nov. 16 press conference at the County Courthouse.

Also named as defendants in the suit are County Judge Chris Hill and county commissioners Darrell Hale, Susan Fletcher, Cheryl Williams and Duncan Webb.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit are current and former employees of the county and include: Chief Investigator Kim Pickrell, Deputy Chief Investigator Keith Henslee, former prosecutor Fallon LaFleur, prosecutor Vykim Le, former receptionist Jane Doe 1, and former communications director Jane Doe 2.

During the Nov. 14 commissioner’s court meeting, a letter of engagement to represent the county was considered as part of the consent agenda. The law firm the county is engaging for its defense is Abernathy, Roeder, Boyd, and Hullett, P.C.

According to a copy of the engagement letter attached in the meeting agenda, the hourly cost for a director-level attorney is $375, $250 for an associate attorney and $125 for legal assistants or legal interns. The county will be billed monthly for incurred expenses. 

Commissioners approved the letter of engagement.

During the Nov. 21 meeting, the commissioners court considered a letter of engagement for Flowers, Davis, P.L.L.C. as part of its consent agenda. The firm will be contracted to represent Wirskye in the lawsuit.

Resident Joshua Murray asked for the item to be pulled from the consent agenda and asked commissioners what the source of funding for the law firm will be. He received no response from the dais.

Robert S. Davis will be the lead attorney billing $300 per hour, partner Lee Correa will work the case at a rate of $275 per hour and associate attorney Jack Fulgham will bill $225 per hour. Two paralegals will work the case as well, each billing $90 per hour. Combined, the county could pay as much as $980 per hour to defend Wirskye.

The letter of engagement also detailed working with other members of the defense counsel for the case in an attempt to mitigate expenses.

Commissioners approved the letter of engagement.

In Willis’ press conference, he asked the plaintiffs to stop wasting taxpayer money litigating the case.

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