Special Reports

Corpuz still wants privilege, city silence

The Tacoma City Council may have freed city attorneys to talk about the David Brame case. But City Manager Ray Corpuz insists they should keep silent about his role in a $10 million lawsuit against the city.

That means City Attorney Robin Jenkinson may not be able to shed light on some questions surrounding what Corpuz knew about the late police chief and when he knew it, when she conducts a press conference this morning.

In a letter dated Tuesday to the city, Corpuz attorney C. James Frush said the embattled city manager "intends to cooperate fully with all investigations" and doesn't object to the City Council's waiver of attorney-client privilege so the city attorney's office can discuss the Brame investigation.

But Corpuz does want to retain his rights to attorney silence involving his representation as an individual in the Joseph Kirby lawsuit, the letter says.

Corpuz is named as a defendant in the lawsuit, filed against the city by police officer Kirby.

Corpuz's request might prevent attorneys from discussing whether the city manager knew about testimony in the Kirby lawsuit that then-police Lt. Dave Olson believed a 1988 rape allegation against Brame.

Assistant city attorney Shelley Kerslake knew about the allegation several months before Corpuz appointed Brame chief in December 2001. But it's not known publicly whether that information was passed up the chain to Corpuz.

The Kirby lawsuit documents also touch on members of Corpuz's family.

One deposition mentions how police gave favorable treatment to a 1997 burglary at the Corpuz home and alleges Corpuz's son, Dito, got a preferential "no arrest" status from police.

Corpuz's wife, Lynda, later admitted to insurance fraud in the burglary and was placed on probation and referred to a county diversion program.

Neither Corpuz, who's on paid administrative leave, nor Frush could be reached for comment Tuesday evening.

Corpuz, accepting responsibility for some mistakes in judgment in the Brame case, announced May 12 he plans to retire once the city's investigation is over and he's had a chance to complete some unfinished tasks.

Corpuz, 56, has been city manager for 13 years.

The City Council's resolution authorizing the waiver releases all present and past city attorneys from attorney-client privilege and confidentiality rules "as it relates to any information ... concerning all matters relevant to the Brame investigation."

Jenkinson, the city's chief attorney since 1995, has said that she and her assistants would like to defend their "personal honesty and integrity" by answering questions in the case.

The council's release of attorney-client privilege, approved May 20, gave individuals seven days to assert their claims to secrecy. The deadline was Tuesday.

During her press conference today, Jenkinson is expected to read a prepared statement, then answer questions from the media. She'll be joined by her chief assistant, Elizabeth Pauli, said city spokeswoman Carol Mathewson.

In addition to whether Corpuz knew about the rape allegation, persistent questions swirling around the case that Jenkinson could answer include:

•How Jenkinson's office handled a reported recommendation from two top human resources officials that Brame's gun and badge be revoked on April 26 - the day before he fatally shot his wife, Crystal, and committed suicide during a contentious divorce.

•Whether Corpuz was told of that recommendation.

•How Jenkinson handled news in an e-mail from Kerslake on April 13 - two weeks before the shooting - that Brame was in the midst of a messy divorce, not focused on his work and that assistant chief Catherine Woodard couldn't get her own work done because she was busy "holding Brame's hand."

The Brame case has captured the attention of the national media. In addition to local newspapers and television stations, TV cameras from ABC News and CBS News 48 Hours will attend the press conference, Mathewson said.

Kris Sherman: 253-597-8659

kris.sherman@mail.tribnet.com

SIDEBAR (A12)

•Tacoma City Attorney Robin Jenkinson will hold a news conference at 11 a.m. today in council chambers at City Hall, 747 Market St., to discuss the David Brame case. The conference will be televised by TV Tacoma on Channel 12 within the city and on Channel 21 in Pierce County.

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