Little Compton could soon have a new town solicitor, after town council members voted 4-1 last week, with Paul Golembeske opposed, to negotiate a contract with Anthony DeSisto of Anthony DeSisto Law …
Little Compton could soon have a new town solicitor, after town council members voted 4-1 last week, with Paul Golembeske opposed, to negotiate a contract with Anthony DeSisto of Anthony DeSisto Law Associates in Providence. Andrew Iriartre-Moore made the motion to negotiate with DeSisto.
The council is expected to finalize and formally vote on DeSisto's appointment Thursday. If it is approved, he will replace solicitor Richard Humphrey, who has served the town for more than 30 years.
DeSisto, of Barrington, has long worked in municipal law. Currently the town solicitor for Warren and Lincoln, he is also legal counsel for the state Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC) and is Warren's probate court judge.
DeSisto was one of three finalists for the solicitor post. The other two included Humphrey and Per Vaage and Steve Sypole, both of Gidley, Sarli & Marusak. Sypole was formerly Warren's municipal court judge.
The council voted 3-1 in November to seek applicants for the position, with Golembeske casting the lone 'nay' vote. The decision to advertise came weeks after Iriarte-Moore said at a public candidates' forum that the time had come to look for new legal representation.
“One of the areas of our budget that really has ballooned over the last few years is our legal budget and our town solicitor budget," he said. “When I was elected in 2018 ... one of my first motions on the council was to put out a notice that the town was hiring a solicitor, and asked applicants to come forward with letters of interest. The council received three applicants for the position, including the current solicitor, and I proposed that we move on to an interview phase. But my three Republican colleagues voted against that, and moved to hire the current solicitor. When I was elected in 2020, I was defeated in suggesting that we even post a position for a new applicant.”
“I think it's time that we conduct a full and thorough search for a new applicant for the solicitor position,” he said.
On Tuesday, Iriarte-Moore said he is happy that members of the council were able to work together and make the right choice, dedicating a host of meetings, and much research and thought, to the search.
"Change doesn't always come easy but I've enjoyed working with my colleagues to come to a decision that will ultimately benefit the community.
He also hopes DeSisto's expected hiring will "bring down our legal bills a little bit."
DeSisto charges a flat across the board $125 hourly rate, while Humphrey's hourly rate has fluctuated between $185 to $225 per hour over the past several years.
The town's legal services budget is $129,000, with $54,960 going to the solicitor's annual stipend and the balance, $74,040, for "other legal services and litigation."
Iriarte-Moore said that Humphrey's practice has been to collect the stipend for general town council and town business, and then bill separately out of the "other legal services" line item for work relating to the planning and zoning boards, as well as litigation.
"We found during our interviews that most solicitors include planning and zoning work as part of their general services and don't bill those at a different rate," Iriarte-Moore said.
Humphrey, who practices law out of Tiverton, has been in Little Compton's employ since 1990 and specializes in civil and criminal proceedings including injury claims, construction litigation, malpractice and DUI or OUI cases.
In November, he said he hoped to continue his service to the town:
“I’ve always enjoyed working for the town, for the past 33 years, and I look forward to serving in the future,” he said. “It’s a great town council, they’re very forward-thinking, very inclusive, very smart, and always have the best interests of the town at heart. It’s a great group of people to work for, and I hope they look favorably upon my application.”