Friday, February 20, 2009
A rather remarkable case imposing bar discipline for prosecutorial misconduct was decided today by the Iowa Supreme Court. The accused attorney had served as the elected county attorney for Cass County. He induced a significant number of illegal plea bargains that included donations to a sheriff's office fund. The fund was used to purchase firearms and also paid the attorney's cell phone bills as well as bought him a car. He served in a dual role of prosecutor and probation officer, requiring donations from those he supervised in order to avoid probation revocation. He also improperly disposed of seized firearms.
His defense? Such conduct by county attorneys is "commonplace." He had testified below as follows: "You may not like it...but it was what was happening...to sit here and act like I was some wild cowboy ignoring the law and doing whatever it was that I wanted to do isn't a fair characterization of the situation, I don't think."
The court isn't buying. Noting two prior instances of discipline for misconduct in office, the court imposed an 18-month suspension. (Mike Frisch)