Wabasha prosecutor cleared of wrongdoingA state official decided that discipline against Wabasha County Attorney James Nordstrom was not warranted following a complaint that politics were behind a criminal charge he filed against Rep. Steve Drazkowski.
By: Mike Longaecker, The Republican Eagle
A state official decided that discipline against Wabasha County Attorney James Nordstrom was not warranted following a complaint that politics were behind a criminal charge he filed against Rep. Steve Drazkowski.
Drazkowski, a Mazeppa Republican, claimed in March that Nordstrom maliciously charged him with a 2008 election law violation for allegedly campaigning at a polling place. Petty misdemeanor charges were dropped by Nordstrom's office in early 2009.
But Drazkowski argued in a complaint to the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility that state statute calls for alleged election law violations to first be heard at the Office of Administrative Hearings - not in a criminal prosecution.
Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility Director Martin Cole said Nordstrom did make a miscue in first filing criminal charges, but ruled that Drazkowski did not provide clear and convincing evidence that the prosecutor had knowledge of the jurisdictional issue.
"It would make little sense to conclude that Mr. Nordstrom charged the election law violation knowing he lacked jurisdiction only to promptly dismiss the charge once the lack of jurisdiction was pointed out to him," Cole wrote, according to a copy of the ruling provided to the R-E by Drazkowski.
Nordstrom's attorney, Phil Villaume, said his client is satisfied with the outcome.
"Mr. Nordstrom feels the matter is closed and resolved," Villaume said Thursday.
The issue is not over for Drazkowski, who said he plans on appealing the ruling "to pursue the same justice that has thus far eluded this process."
The lawyers' office also considered Drazkowski's contention that Nordstrom engaged in misconduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice. Again, clear and convincing evidence was lacking, Cole said.
" ... the facts do not support a finding of anything other than simple negligence on Mr. Nordstrom's part," the ruling states.
Drazkowski has two weeks to file an appeal.
The lawyers' office investigates complaints against Minnesota lawyers. Complaints filed with the office can lead to discipline as severe as disbarment.