DA ‘going to war’ with the Bar

Richard Wiens, The Triplicate

Alexander could face disbarment if charges stand

Del Norte County District Attorney Jon Alexander announced Monday that he expects the State Bar to file a notice of disciplinary charges against him.

The action would result in an administrative hearing, and could lead to another suspension of his license to practice law, or to his disbarment.

Alexander was elected DA in 2010 as a tough-on-drug-crimes candidate who acknowledged his past addiction to methamphetamine.

A Bar spokeswoman declined to discuss the situation late Monday,

saying disciplinary charges have not been filed and "it's not a public

matter at this point."

Alexander felt otherwise, issuing a statement that read in part:

"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. They think I'll give up because I can't afford the cost of

fighting against their huge resources. But you elected me, and I won't

quit until you tell me to. So I guess I'm going to war."

The district attorney said he planned to stay on the job, and in fact

expects to prosecute the Jared Wyatt murder case before facing a

hearing before the Bar.

Alexander provided a "summary of the charges against me." He said they include:

andbull; "Respondent willfully violated rules of professional conduct, by

giving or lending, directly or indirectly, a thing of value to a judge,

official, or employee of a tribunal where no personal or family

relationship exists such that gifts are customarily given and

exchanged."

andbull; "By failing to recuse himself from the Jackie Zlokovich matter, by

failing to disclose to the court that (attorney George) Mavris was

respondent's State Bar attorney and that Mavris had recently loaned

respondent money, by reviewing the Zlokovich matter without informing

the court of respondent's relationship with Mavris, respondent engaged

in acts of corruption."

andbull; "Respondent spoke to (a co-defendant) about the facts surrounding

... criminal charges after learning (co-defendant) was represented by

counsel. Respondent did not obtain (co-defendant's) consent to speak

with (co-defendant) about the criminal charges ... By speaking with

(co-defendant) about her pending criminal matter, respondent represented

a client and communicated about the subject of that representation with

a party respondent knew was represented by another lawyer without the

consent of that lawyer."

Alexander denied all three charges, and provided detailed responses.

Regarding the first charge, he said that "In 2009, I was a Public

Defender with a private practice. I lent Linda Sanford, Assistant Chief

Probation Officer, and her husband, both dear friends, $14,000 to help

stave off foreclosure ...

"Any fair-minded person would conclude that there is a personal

relationship between me and the Sanfords, predating the personal loan

and long before my swearing-in as District Attorney."

Regarding the second charge related to the Zlokovich case, Alexander

said the local woman acted as a family friend when she picked up a

neighbor's child from preschool after the neighbor was arrested on

suspicion of DUI.

"At the time of my swearing-in, I had never even heard of the

Zlokovich misdemeanor case," Alexander stated. "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."

As for the loan from Zlokovich's attorney, Alexander said, "The

Mavris family loaned me $6,000 prior to my taking office, a personal

loan that was repaid within five days and prior to my taking office."

In regard to the third charge, Alexander gave the following account:

"On Friday afternoon, July 8, 2011, 23 year-old Michelle Taylor

entered my office unannounced and without an appointment. She was

wearing an undisclosed wire. Immediately and without provocation or

inquiry, she spontaneously stated that the drugs were hers, not her

boyfriend's. Given our caseloads and lack of notice for her sudden

appearance, initially (as the tape demonstrates), I had no idea what she

was talking about. She and her boyfriend had been arrested in a vehicle

driven by the boyfriend and approximately 21andfrasl;2 grams of meth was found

in her undergarments. Her attorney had previously told me in her

presence that she could speak with me regarding her entry into

residential rehabilitation. Pursuant to that discussion, I did

eventually find a free bed in a local treatment facility for her and her

as yet unborn child ...

"No improper, unlawful pressure or unfair advantage was ever brought

to bear upon Ms. Taylor as a result of her orchestrated entry into my

office and felonious taping of the conversation. No detriment to her

case, her due process rights or herself have ever resulted from her

voluntary and spontaneous statements. Not immediately terminating the

meeting and discussion when Ms. Taylor entered my office may at most

have been an error in judgment, but in no way an act of corruption as

alleged."

Alexander has been in trouble with the State Bar before. He has been

ordered not to practice law three times in the past, was suspended in

2003 and put on probation in 2004. In addition he was enrolled inactive

for 30 days in 2006, after which he petitioned the court for active

status.

In December 2003, Alexander was suspended six months for practicing

law while not entitled, failing to return unearned fees, failing to

cooperate with the Bar's investigation, failing to maintain a current

address with the bar and committing an act of moral turpitude, the Bar

court concluded.

He is currently on probation after completing the State Bar Court's

Alternative Discipline Program in 2010. At that time, State Bar court

documents stated Alexander has "been in full compliance with all terms

and conditions of the program as it relates to his sobriety." Documents

listed his "efforts to give back to his community" as mitigating factors

in the recommendation.

Alexander has acknowledged being a recovered methamphetamine addict.

He said in 2010 that the terms of his probation stated he must keep his

nose clean and be a model citizen for other residents.

"I've done that and more in this community," Alexander said then.

"Every day I wake up and realize how blessed I am to be in a town and

county that gave me a second chance."

Other than issuing his detailed statement Monday, Alexander declined to comment on his latest Bar trouble.

"I've answered these old charges in public and in print," he said in

the statement. "They were initiated by people who cashed paychecks from

Del Norte County, but gave nothing in return except lawsuits,

controversy and embarrassment."

Reach Richard Wiens at rwiens@triplicate.com

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The Del Norte Triplicate
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