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Hunt: 'I accept and honor the city attorney's decision'

Former city attorney arrested on suspicion of DUI says he understands why city terminated contract with new firm.

October 04, 2011|By Sarah Peters
(Courtesy Costa…)

The Newport Beach city attorney's office has terminated a contract with former City Attorney David Hunt's new law firm following his second arrest in less than two years, city officials said Tuesday.

Hunt was arrested Friday night on suspicion of drunk driving after he hit a parked car, police said.

The notice of termination with Hunt's new employer, Irvine-based Friedman Stroffe & Gerard, was sent out Tuesday and will take effect Oct. 11, said city spokeswoman Tara Finnigan.

No work had been performed under the contract, which the City Council approved 6 to 1 on Sept. 27. Councilwoman Leslie Daigle dissented, saying she was opposed to retaining his counsel.

"The action terminating the contract is fully allowed under the agreement," Hunt told the Daily Pilot via email Tuesday. "I accept and honor the city attorney's decision."

Although Hunt left his position as city attorney Sept. 6 because of concerns over the office's escalating budget, his services were retained to continue work on cases he had handled prior to leaving, according to the staff report.

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"[Hunt] has inside knowledge on cases," City Attorney Aaron Harp, Hunt's replacement, said at the Sept. 27 meeting.

In March 2010, Hunt was taken into custody by Santa Ana police on suspicion of domestic violence, but no charges were filed.

On Friday, he was arrested about a five-minute drive away from his office. Police said Hunt was given a field sobriety test at the scene of the crash then arrested. He was released on his own recognizance at 2:10 a.m. Saturday.

Hunt declined to comment on his arrest Monday.

Police declined to release Hunt's blood-alcohol level or booking photo.

Morningside Recovery Home in Newport Beach offered their support for Hunt, who Morningside officials know through litigation with the city dating back to 2007.

During that time, David Hunt has always acted with great professionalism and judgment," wrote Mary Helen Beatificato, vice president and general counsel for Morningside Recovery. "David's situation is further evidence that substance abuse crosses all demographics and knows no boundaries."

Staff Writer Joseph Serna contributed to this report.

sarah.peters@latimes.com

Twitter: @speters01

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