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Saturday, April 28, 2007

Hatch's value added to AG’s Office

Putting aside for a moment press reports that some of the favorable postings on this site may have been made under pressure, I count a total of 16 posts on our site so far that could be called positive toward the AG’s Office. All of those posts say something positive about Lori Swanson. However, just two say something positive about Mike Hatch.

The two arguably favorable comments say:

-- “In my almost 9 years in the Office I have always been treated fairly, respectfully and professionally. I am impressed by the work ethic and dedication of both former Attorney General Mike Hatch and Lori Swanson”;
-- “Mike Hatch works about fifty feet from my office. It looks to me like he is damn busy working on cases.”

I am trying to determine if the general lack of comment on Hatch in these otherwise positive posts about the AG's Office is an oversight or a damning with faint praise. Anyone else have anything positive to say about what value Hatch brings to the AG's Office in his current role? The Strib reports that he makes $107,000 a year for his job as director of complex litigation. Is he worth it? And what exactly does he do?


Anonymous said...

As one contemplates the value added by Mike Hatch, let's get something straight - there is no "Complex Litigation Unit." There never has been.

When the Attorney General was pursuing claims against Smith Kline Glaxo, that work was led by Mike Vanselow, who clearly was an attorney who was capable of handling complex litigation. Until they left the AGO, David Woodward and Prentiss Cox pursued complex consumer matters. And Lori Swanson handled her share of big cases, too, against large entities.

The Consumer Enforcement Division once had at least six attorneys and a full complement of nonlawyers or investigators. Of that group, only one attorney and two investigators remain. The work load is shared by staff who are normally assigned to represent state agencies, which is the primary work of the Office of the Attorney General, or typically do other law enforcement work.

Keep in mind Mike Hatch's background as a plaintiff's attorney, (and because Lori Swanson has only ever worked for Mike Hatch, this is her background, too.) The client suffers an injury or is wronged - and the plaintiff's attorney files a complaint or sends a demand letter in the hopes of extracting a monetary settlement from the insurer. These cases rarely go to trial. You do not have to work them up as fully and as meticulously as you do if you are prosecuting a criminal defendant or headed for a court trial. Hatch's detractors call it "drive by litigation" where instead of a check, the payoff is a headline.

Hatch's value is primarily to the current Office Holder, rather than to the Office at large.

Anonymous said...

Interesting. I am assuming the loss in the consumer enforcement division is result of staff quitting or resigning. If you are comfortable giving a little more information, were the losses in this division so heavy because of firings, resignations due to management issues (e.g. micromanagement), a shift in priorities or just part of a general purge? Hatch has made a bit of a name for himself in consumer enforcement. One wonders -- given his apparently very flexible job dscription and unfettered discretion in the office -- whether this would not be a department he would try to personally run.