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Kauai County turns down free legal services offer in GMO case

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A review committee has rejected free legal services offered by attorney Teresa Tico to defend Kauai County against a lawsuit filed by three seed companies to block a new law.

Kauai County solicited pro bono legal services concerning a lawsuit filed by Syngenta, DuPont Pioneer and Agrigenetics Inc., doing business as Dow AgroSciences. In the joint suit, the companies are requesting as federal court judge to issue an injunction against Ordinance 960, which they claim is a flawed and invalid way of regulating pesticide use and growth of genetically modified organisms by large agribusinesses. The new law takes effect in mid-August.

A letter sent to Tico Tuesday by the office stated "the review committee found that you do not qualify as to the following criteria: experience and professional qualifications relevant to the project type; past performance on projects of similar scope for public agencies or private industry; capacity to accomplish work in the required time."

Tico, a 38-year attorney who has handled high-profile cases that include the Ka Loko Dam breach case, said she didn’t take the rejection letter personally, including the section that referred to her qualifications. "I had to laugh at that one," she said during a phone interview. "We have a lack of experience defending the county of Kauai if that was what they meant."

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