After months of pressure to do so, the city’s former top lawyer, Tim Curtin, resigned from his post on June 30 to return to private practice. But Curtin is still getting a paycheck from City Hall, since he’s now working as special counsel to Mayor Lovely Warren's office.
In a phone interview Wednesday, city spokesperson Patrick Flanagan said Warren had asked Curtin to stay on and assist with legal work involving bonds, real estate, and unspecified long-term projects that were already underway at the time of his resignation. In his new position, Curtin's salary will remain at the highest tier of city officials, at $147,239.
Flanagan said Curtin will no longer be involved in any of the day-to-day activities like he would as corporation counsel, and his position would ultimately be toward projects which fit his legal expertise.
Curtin’s deputy, Patrick Beath, would have been the next in line to fill the city corporation counsel position, but he opted to stay in the role of deputy counsel, likely for the reason that it would increase his odds of remaining in the city law department when presumptive Mayor-elect Malik Evans takes office in January. With the corporation counsel job remaining empty, Beath has assumed all responsibilities and powers of the office until a new attorney is named.
Beath's salary will also remain the same, at $126,837.
Curtin hasn’t physically gone anywhere—he is still located in the city Law Department offices, though he works directly for the Warren’s office. The administration official said that was mostly a matter of space, since there isn’t room in the Mayor’s Office.
Curtin, who did not immediately return a message left on his city voicemail, came under fire during the fallout from the death of Daniel Prude at the hands of Rochester police officers. Investigations by administration officials and an attorney hired by City Council concluded that Curtin had a key role in obstructing the release of body-worn camera footage of police officers’ encounter with Prude.
Andrew Celli, the attorney who led the investigation for City Council, found that Curtin provided the mayor with guidance which was “factually incorrect, legally without basis, or both.”
When Beath provided Prude family attorney Eliot Shields with body-worn camera footage of Prude’s arrest, Curtin was quoted as saying this “city will burn” and “we will all lose our jobs.”
Following the report’s release, all members of City Council signed on to a resolutioncalling for Curtin to be fired. The resolution was set for a vote in April, but Curtin announced his resignation prior and City Council put the brakes on its plan.
Council did not have the authority to fire Curtin, but the resolution would have served as a symbol of condemnation.
“We can’t withdraw our confirmation and fire him, but we definitely can be vocal about our desire for this action,” Council President Loretta Scott said when the resolution was introduced in March.
In a phone call Wednesday, Scott said that she believed Curtin's role as special counsel for the mayor's office is "reasonable" if he is relegated specifically to certain areas of the law.
"Our position was we did not want him," Scott said. "But the work that he does for the mayor is very specific, and very necessary, so I don't have a problem with that."
Curtin was originally appointed corporation counsel by Warren in 2018. His new position will ultimately need to be confirmed at a Civil Service Commission meeting on July 29.