Reached for comment for this story, Brummer says his assistant PDs are permitted to take on "incidental or occasional private practice" but never a case involving another government organization. The longstanding policy goes for everyone in the office and is not being directed selectively at Shiver, the chief public defender explains. Brummer says Shiver initiated the meeting, and they didn't discuss the St. Hugh Oaks suit, only the rationale behind the policy. "If we depend on the City of Miami to cooperate to get office space or the police department for the protection of our personnel, I am not going to permit attorneys to casually and perhaps unknowingly influence those relationships," Brummer elaborates. "People could easily hold me or the office responsible for what the lawyers are doing individually." At the time of the meeting, Shiver indicated he would continue with his job and find another attorney for the case, Brummer says. "But I am not sure now what he is going to decide now."
Shiver, who had planned to follow up his current suit with a federal discrimination suit alleging that the Black Grove is a segregated community, says that right now he's wondering whether it will be possible for him to hang on to his job without letting down his clients. He says he'll withdraw his resignation from the Public Defender's Office if he can find a more experienced attorney "who can deliver the bacon" on an appeal: "The advice I am getting from other lawyers is that this is a way straight to bankruptcy -- fighting city government and taking cases from people who can't pay attorney's fees.