Letters: Conflict of interest question raised
Conflict of interest question raised How will county attorney candidate Dearstyne handle potential conflicts of interest if elected? The Minnesota Rules of Professional Conduct state "...a lawyer currently serving as a public officer or employee ...
Conflict of interest
How will county attorney candidate Dearstyne handle potential conflicts of interest if elected?
The Minnesota Rules of Professional Conduct state "...a lawyer currently serving as a public officer or employee shall not participate in a matter in which the lawyer participated personally and substantially while in private practice or as a nongovernmental employee ... and shall not represent a former client in ...a substantially related matter."
If a former client has been defended by Dearstyne, he cannot prosecute that client again on any "substantially related matter," nor can he or anyone in the county attorney's office prosecute cases which are on-going.
The American Bar Association ethical standards state a "prosecutor should avoid the appearance or reality of a conflict of interest with respect to his official duties. In some instances...failure to do so will constitute unprofessional conduct... 'Matter' includes any judicial or other proceeding, application, request for a ruling or other determination, contract, claim, controversy, investigation, charge, accusation, arrest or other particular matter involving a specific party or parties and any other matter covered by the conflict of interest rules." This covers a broad range of cases.
As the primary public defender for Hubbard County, Dearstyne has prior relationships with many persons who have, are or will again travel through the county court system. County Attorney Larson and Assistant County Attorney Randall trade time at no cost with attorneys from Beltrami or Cass. Will Dearstyne be able to establish this kind of relationship? If not, attorneys will have to be brought in at a substantial cost.