New Town Attorney takes hit on his very first day

The bomb dropped on Mammoth Lakes’ incoming Town Attorney as soon as he set foot in the door.

Andrew Morris, who was invited to town last week for a meet-and-greet with the town staff and others, was supposed to have a relaxed couple of days.

Instead, on the day he arrived, the Hot Creek decision came crashing down on the town from the California Appellate Court, sending Morris and everyone else scrambling.

“I took office the day the bomb fell, yeah,” Morris said.

“We all knew it was coming, and we didn’t know what the opinion would be. But based on the comments on the judges at oral argument, the judges seemed a little bit hostile.

“It was kind of an interesting first day on the job. It was immediately getting to work.”

Town Manager Rob Clark introduced Morris, a personable 34-year-old attorney who specializes in municipal law, to the Town Council Wednesday.

“We wanted him to work as little as possible the first two days,” Clark said, laughing.

Morris is representing the town on behalf of Best, Best & Krieger, a Truckee firm whose lawyers work on behalf of towns and municipalities throughout California.

“We’ve already used two other attorneys from that firm on various special assignments,” Clark said.
To the council, Morris shrugged off his welcome gift, as it were.

“I’m very happy to be here, so thanks again for hiring me and I look forward to continuing this relationship for a long time.

“I heard in advance that Mammoth was going to be an adventure, and it’s proving to be.”

It was a bit unnerving to see Morris occupy the seat that for 23 years was occupied by Peter Tracy, and even more unnerving to notice the polar opposition of the two.

Morris is young and athletic – an outdoorsman who loves Mammoth and the Eastern Sierra, not that Tracy doesn’t.

But it’s hard to imagine Tracy on a snowboard, or climbing a rock face.

“I do snowboarding, I fish, I hike, I canoe, I kayak, I camp,” said Morris.

“I’ve been coming to Mono County all my life, several times a year, every year.

“I like being outside and I really like being outside in Mono County.”

Morris also said he has a strong affinity for municipal law.

“My dad and my uncle were both attorneys, and my uncle has been on the City Council in the town next door forever.

“In La Verne, my dad spent eight years on the planning commission and so the combination of being around lawyers and public agencies made me interested in how the law affects public agencies, so I ended up going into municipal law.”

Having graduated from the UCLA School of Law, Morris signed on with Best Best & Krieger, full-service law firm with 200 attorneys in eight offices across the state.

It is a firm that, according to its web site, “promises effective, timely and service-oriented solutions to complex legal issues facing public agencies, businesses and individuals.”

For Morris, there could not have been a better fit, he said.

“For me personally it’s great because there’s no better firm in the state for this kind of work, and it’s why the firm is a good fit for the town.

“We don’t dabble in municipal law. It’s what we do.

“So I have experts on my team in every conceivable area that the Town may need help in. I’ve got people who do nothing but that.”

Such as maybe a Supreme Court bid in the Hot Creek case? Maybe an appeal of the Eric Hugelman case?

All of that.

Those cases won’t keep him off his snowboard, though, or interfere too much with his fly fishing and kayaking.