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Continued: Rare attempt underway to recoup court costs from defense attorneys

  • Article by: DAVID CHANEN , Star Tribune
  • Last update: December 19, 2013 - 11:54 PM

McGlennen’s response

In response to Freeman’s motion last week, McGlennen wrote that every affidavit he submitted was “sufficiently credible.” He wrote that the state Supreme Court had ordered the hearing for Martin, and he argued that withdrawing from it would have been a breach of his duties to a client in a difficult situation.

In court last week, Longsdorf’s attorney, Joe Friedberg, said Longsdorf did everything he could to verify the truth of the affidavits.

He described Freeman’s motion “as the most outrageous I’ve ever seen in my life.” He also criticized the county attorney for commenting on a pending case.

Friedberg said McGlennen has an excellent reputation and also praised Longsdorf, who has been practicing law for just a short time.

Case viewed many ways

Motions for monetary sanctions are much more common in lawsuits and are seldom filed in criminal cases, said Steve Simon, a University of Minnesota law professor. Attorneys can’t let clients lie, but sometimes clients don’t tell attorneys they’re going to lie, he said.

Simon said he believes Freeman’s motion has merit because of the vast resources needed to respond to Martin’s petition for a hearing, including the false affidavits. “This is a real threat to the integrity of the judicial system,” he said.

University of Minnesota law Prof. Richard Painter took a different view. In criminal cases, exposing defense attorneys to monetary sanctions can seriously impair their effectiveness, he said. Unlike civil cases, there isn’t necessarily a clear-cut point at which sanctions for misconduct are justified. That makes it even more important that the violation be egregious and obvious, he said.

The conduct rule most relevant in this case says a lawyer may not knowingly submit false evidence, Painter said. But Freeman wrote in his motion that the accused attorneys “knew or should have known,” which broadens his argument too widely, Painter said.

“Criminal cases involve a lot of questionable evidence. Both accusers and alibi witnesses are often persons of bad character and do not always tell the truth,” he said. “Defense counsel should not be afraid to put the best case forward, stopping short of knowingly introducing false evidence.”

 

David Chanen • 612-673-4465

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