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Palm Springs backs off hiring Silver & Wright, law firm behind ‘prosecution fees' in Indio and Coachella

Palm Springs backs off hiring Silver & Wright, law firm behind ‘prosecution fees' in Indio and Coachella

Palm Springs City Hall nearly hired a law firm that has been criticized for charging exorbitant fees to unsuspecting residents in the eastern Coachella Valley, but a contract with the firm was pulled from a city council meeting agenda shortly before it was set for approval in a routine vote on Wednesday night.

The Desert Sun recently revealed that the law firm, empowered by those city contracts, billed residents who committed very minor crimes more than a total of $122,000 in “prosecution fees” – making them pay to prosecute themselves.

At Wednesday's Palm Springs City Council meeting, the Silver & Wright contract was initially placed on the council’s “consent calendar,” a portion of agenda that is reserved for routine, non-controversial decisions.

In November, a Desert Sun investigation revealed that Silver & Wright had been criminally prosecuting Indio and Coachella residents for small nuisance crimes – like a junk-filled yard or selling popsicles without a business license – then billing the residents thousands of dollars in “prosecution fees.” The bills grew even larger when the law firm added litigation fees, investigation fees, staff costs and appeal costs.

Last week, a follow-up Desert Sun investigation revealed that Silver & Wright had also helped Coachella City Hall heavily fine a 91-year-old woman, Marjorie Sansom, who was dying of dementia.

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