Wednesday, July 13, 2011
The Arizona Presiding Disciplinary Judge has reprimanded a county attorney and his chief deputy:
In Count One, Respondents, in their capacity as county attorney and chief deputy county attorney, authorized county investigators to interview a criminal defendant (who was incarcerated and represented by counsel) to ascertain whether or not the defendant had been advised by his attorney of the pending plea offer. Respondent Brannan erroneously believed that pursuant to Montejo v. Louisiana, 129 S.Ct. 2079 (Louisiana 2009), it would be permissible to interview the defendant regarding the plea as long as the investigators "Mirandized" the defendant and he waived his right to have his counsel present. The defendant’s attorney did not receive advanced notice of the visit and was not present during the visit.
Additionally...Respondent Whiting issued a press release in the criminal matter that criticized the judge and his decision to release the defendant and dismiss the matter with prejudice. Respondent Whiting’s statements in the press release indicated that the judge’s ruling contained political statements and personal attacks. The press release further stated that the judge’s ruling quoted from the record entirely out of context and he (Whiting) was shocked and puzzled by the decision, which lacked any supporting legal authority.
The conduct described in count one on the part of Respondent Brannan violated Rule 4.2.
This was an agreed disposition. (Mike Frisch)