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Del Norte DA faces possible disbarment

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POSTED May 15, 2012 6:54 p.m.



 

CRESCENT CITY (AP) - The district attorney of a remote Northern California county is facing possible disbarment after officials said he violated rules of professional conduct, including that he took a loan from a defense attorney working on a case he later dismissed.

Del Norte County District Attorney Jon Alexander was a recovering methamphetamine addict when he was elected to office in 2010 after running a campaign with the slogan "death to meth."

His story of recovery and second chances appealed to voters in the small, rural area known for its salmon fishing and methamphetamine problems.

But now Alexander is being investigated for giving money to a public official and failing to recuse himself from a case in which he had a conflict of interest, he said on Tuesday. He's also being investigated for speaking directly with a defendant without her attorney present.

Alexander denied the charges in a statement, and accused the state bar of conspiring to kick him out of office because they do not like him.

"The bar association's prosecutors hold the cards. But their charges don't hold water in this county or within any notion of justice. They do not expect a lone attorney, let alone an elected official, to go to war with them," he said.

"But you elected me, and I won't quit until you tell me to. So I guess I'm going to war," he said.

The state bar believes Alexander committed the violations since being given this second chance by voters, according to a summary of the investigation provided to The Associated Press by Alexander.

A State Bar spokeswoman declined to comment on an open investigation Tuesday.

In one instance, Alexander is accused of corruption for dismissing a case handled by a defense attorney who had loaned the prosecutor $6,000. Alexander used the money to help pay for hair transplants, according to the Sacramento Bee.

Under state rules of ethical conduct for attorneys, Alexander should have recused himself from the case because of his previous relationship with the defense attorney, George Mavris.

Alexander does not deny taking the money, and said he repaid the loan "within five days." He said he gave no special treatment to Mavris in court because of the loan.

He said the case was destined to be dismissed, even without his involvement

"As the deputy assigned to the case, the trial judge and I all concluded, the case should have been dismissed and I would do so again," he said.

Alexander is also accused of loaning the county's chief probation officer $14,000, which would violate the state's rules of professional conduct. Alexander admitted he loaned the money, saying the probation officer and her husband needed help to "stave off foreclosure."

And in the third case, Alexander is accused of talking directly with a criminal defendant about the case, even though he knew she had an attorney.

Alexander said the defendant appeared at his office unannounced, wearing "an undisclosed wire," and spontaneously started speaking about the case.

The current investigation is just the latest in a long line of trouble for Alexander with the state bar.

Alexander has been suspended from practicing law twice as a disciplinary action, and another three times for failing to pay his bar member fees, according to state records.

He is currently on 3-years' probation under the bar's Alternative Discipline Program, which allows him to continue practicing dependent upon him staying sober.

 

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