April 13, 2010
Convicted Prosecutor Sanctioned
A bar discipline case is summarized on the web page of the Idaho State Bar:
On December 29, 2009, the Idaho Supreme Court issued a Disciplinary Order suspending [an attorney] from the practice of law for eleven months, with all but 60 days withheld, and placing him on Bar Counsel probation following reinstatement.
The Idaho Supreme Court’s Order followed a stipulated resolution of an Idaho State Bar disciplinary proceeding in which [the attorney] admitted that he violated I.B.C.R. 505(b) [Criminal conduct], I.R.P.C. 8.4(b) [Commission of a criminal act] and I.R.P.C. 1.7(a)(2) [Conflict of interest: current clients]. The Complaint related to two matters when [he] was the Caribou County Prosecutor. One matter related to Respondent’s guilty plea to one misdemeanor count of bribery-unlawful use of public position for personal gain, in violation of Idaho Code §18-1359 and the other matter related to his prosecution of a criminal defendant for probation violation and attempted escape charges.With respect to [his] misdemeanor conviction, between March 2006 and July 2007, [he] accepted a number of checks from defendants, made payable to charitable or public entities, in infraction cases in conjunction with plea agreements to have those infraction charges dismissed. During that timeframe, [he] deposited approximately $3,800 into a separate personal bank account and the Caribou County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue Fund. [He] deposited approximately $2,612 into a separate personal account dedicated solely for the Caribou County Fair 5K race. [He] used approximately $1,600 to purchase prizes for the Caribou County Fair 5K race. [He] did not use any of the funds deposited in his personal account for any personal use unrelated to the Caribou County Fair 5K race. During trial on the charges of misuse of public money by an officer, [he] accepted a plea offer to the one misdemeanor count noted above and was sentenced on June 5, 2008. The judge imposed a $1,000 fine, 90 days jail, with all 90 days suspended, two years of unsupervised probation, and 150 hours of community service.
With respect to the admitted violation of I.R.P.C. 1.7(a)(2), a conflict of interest, in April 2006, [he] prosecuted charges against a defendant for a probation violation and attempted escape from the Caribou County Jail. The defendant and [the attorney] eventually agreed to a plea bargain whereby the defendant pled guilty to three felony counts in exchange for dismissal of the remaining six felony counts. During 2006, [he] engaged in a sexual relationship with the defendant’s mother. The relationship lasted approximately two months. The exact timeframe of the relationship was disputed, but it occurred either before or during the defendant’s prosecution, resulting in the conflict.
The Disciplinary Order provides that [his] 60 day suspension will run from November 1, 2009 through December 30, 2009. Following his reinstatement, [he] will serve probation for one year, upon terms and conditions that include compliance with all the terms and conditions of his criminal probation. If [he] violates any of the conditions of probation, then the entire nine month withheld suspension shall automatically and immediately be imposed.
The case is Matter of James. (Mike Frisch)
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