Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What does the County Counsel do?
  2. Does the County Counsel give legal advice to members of the public?
  3. Can I serve the County in a lawsuit by serving the County Counsel?
  4. Can I schedule a mental health appointment with the County Counsel's Office?
  5. I have suffered personal injury or property damage, which I believe was caused by the County or one of its employees. How do I go about collecting for my damages?
  6. I would like to view some County records. Can I get them from the Office of the County Counsel?
  7. I would like a copy of the County Ordinance Codes. Can I get them from the Office of the County Counsel?
  8. Can County Counsel assist me in speaking with a prisoner in the jail, or give me information about visiting hours or other information?
  9. Can I speak with Kathleen Bales-Lange? I believe she is the person who is working on my case.

1. What does the County Counsel do?

The Office of County Counsel renders civil legal services to the county. This includes representing and advising the officers and employees of the county in matters of civil concern. The Office of County Counsel also represents other public agencies when not in conflict with its primary duty to represent the County and its Board of Supervisors. Such other public agencies may include but are not limited to certain special districts, and a variety of special districts and joint powers agencies located within the County of Tulare.

Some of the tasks County Counsel attorneys perform include: representation of the Health and Human Services Agency in petitions for the protection of abused or neglected children; provide advise on the open-meeting laws and Public Records Act; assist staff with lease, financing and bond matters and construction projects; provide advice and representation for very broad range of personnel related issues, including the application and interpretation of personnel rules and policy, and ADA, violence in the workplace, medical separation and fitness for duty, Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), personnel leave issues, probationary and “at- will” releases from employment, and discipline hearings; respond to and defend Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) and Equal Economic Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and other discrimination complaints; draft local ordinances; prepare or review contracts; and provide representation in litigation at the administrative, superior court and appellate court levels.

2. Does the County Counsel give legal advice to members of the public?

No. The County Counsel, by statute, is the lawyer for the County, its officers and employees in their official capacity, and certain other public entities such as memorial districts and cemetery districts. If you need assistance regarding Small Claims matters, you can contact the Small Claims Court Advisor Advisor Greg Blevins, Attorney at Law, at (559) 688- 6000 .

3. Can I serve the County in a lawsuit by serving the County Counsel?

No. Legal service of process on the County may only be accomplished by serving the Clerk of the Board of Supervisors, located at 2800 West Burrel Avenue, Visalia, CA.

4. Can I schedule a mental health appointment with the County Counsel's Office?

No. Although the name may be somewhat similar, the County Counsel's Office is not in the business of providing psychiatric aid. To obtain a referral for counseling, please contact the Tulare County Health and Human Services Agency at 559-733-6880 or 1-800-320-1616.

5. I have suffered personal injury or property damage, which I believe was caused by the County or one of its employees. How do I go about collecting for my damages?

The process of collecting damages from the County is started by filing a claim on the County's specific claim form with the Clerk of the Board of Supervisors, located at the County Administration Building at 2800 West Burrel Avenue, Visalia, CA, 559-636-5000.

Instructions and forms for filing a claim can be obtained from that office, as well.

The law regarding claims against public entities is complex and has short deadlines. You may need to seek the services of an attorney for your own protection. You should present your claim without delay.

For additional information, please reference Government Code Section 910.

6. I would like to view some County records. Can I get them from the Office of the County Counsel?

No. The Office of the County Counsel is not the official custodian of any records of the County of Tulare. You should inquire directly at the office or location where you believe the records are maintained, or contact the Clerk of the Board of Supervisors at (559) 636-5000.

7. I would like a copy of the County Ordinance Codes. Can I get them from the Office of the County Counsel?

No. The County of Tulare has a copy of the County Ordinance Codes online, or they can be obtained from the Clerk of the Board of Supervisors, located at 2800 West Burrel Avenue, Visalia. Their phone number is 559-636-5000.

8. Can County Counsel assist me in speaking with a prisoner in the jail, or give me information about visiting hours or other information?

No. The County Counsel's office has no ability to assist you with this. For information on visiting hours or prisoners at the County's correctional facilities call the Sheriff's Department at 559-733-6220, the Main Jail at 559-733-6201, or Bob Wiley Detention Facility at 559-733-6823.

9. Can I speak with Kathleen Bales-Lange? I believe she is the person who is working on my case.

Ms. Bales-Lange is the County Counsel and her name appears on all the documents filed by anyone in the office. The person most familiar with your case is usually the one who signed the document. That person's name appears beneath Ms. Bales-Lange's name at the top of the document, and beneath the signature itself. If you believe you must speak with someone regarding your matter, that is the person with whom you should speak first. If you still wish to speak to Ms. Bales-Lange, you may contact her at (559) 636-4950.