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Conflict of Interest between County Attorney’s Office and DHS is Possible in Future

Posted: Friday, July 1st, 2011 at 6:26 am
Author: KNIA/KRLS News

Due to a recent ruling by the Iowa Supreme Court, there may come a time where there is a conflict of interest between the Marion County Attorney’s office and the Department of Human Services. The ruling made the Department of Human Services the client of any county attorney’s office across the state. Marion County Attorney Ed Bull says this creates a conflict of interest when the County Attorney is prosecuting a criminal case, perhaps asking for jail time, and the Department of Human Services feels that the children should not have their parent taken away. In some cases, Bull says, a special prosecutor would have to be appointed at the county’s expense to the juvenile court case. Bull tells KNIA/KRLS News that he can’t think of any other situation where by law, a state agency is being represented by a county entity. He continues that a change in this law is the County Attorney Association’s highest priority at the next legislative meeting. He adds that his concerns have nothing to do with his working relationship with the Department of Human Services. He says that they do a great job protecting children to the best of their ability, and none of his pending cases are affected by this ruling. He says he is simply concerned about a prospective problem between attorney-client ethics, and about a possibly expensive problem for the county itself.