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As the assistant attorney general assigned to defend the state against the Amy Fisher lawsuit, I want to respond to an Oct. 4 letter and set the record straight.

The Department of Law is required to provide legal representation to state employees who are sued in their official capacity. There are 21 defendants named in the lawsuit, many of whom have conflicts of interest. Under ethical guidelines, each defendant is entitled to independent representation -- so the state is obliged to provide outside counsel for several of the defendants. The attorney general has no choice.

Furthermore, the letter referred to an article in The News that incorrectly reported that there were two assistant attorneys general assigned to the case -- and that's not true. I am the only state attorney assigned to this case. In fact, I represent nine administrators of the Department of Correctional Services who were named in the suit.

Finally, as a 9 1/2 -year veteran of the attorney general's office, I find the letter's erroneous assertions about a purge of the office to be disingenuous. Indeed, statewide, a majority of the existing legal staff was retained. At the same time, I have been impressed by the vigor and dedication exhibited by the newly hired attorneys.

William Lonergan Assistant Attorney General
of New York State

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