The independent watchdog for the Los Angeles Fire Department has filed a complaint with the State Bar over legal advice given by City Attorney Carmen Trutanich's office that blocked his access to department personnel records.
Independent Assessor Stephen Miller filed the complaint under an ongoing dispute over his ability to review files involving allegations of misconduct by firefighters -- one of the principal aspects of his position that was created by voters in 2009.
Miller said the Fire Commission had adopted a motion requiring the department turn over the information to the independent assessor, but it was blocked by advice from the City Attorney's Office.
Miller alleged the problems developed only after he had criticized the legal opinions being provided to the department in an audit conducted in 2010.
"It was only after the Independent Assessor criticized some legal services that City attorneys said the Fire Commission has no access to Fire Department personnel information," Miller said in his complaint.
Miller had filed a similar complaint in February 2012, but the State Bar later dismissed it. He refiled with some expanded information in December.
The Office of Independent Assessor is modeled after the Los Angeles Police Department's Inspector General position and was intended to deal with issues such as hazing, sexism and racial problems within the department.
But Chief Deputy City Attorney Bill Carter
said the language in the City Charter that created Miller's position does not grant him access to every file in the department.
"We have advised the department and him of what records he has access to," Carter said.