ST. PAUL, MINN., JAN. 30 -- The state Supreme Court publicly reprimanded the former prosecutor who pushed the town of Jordan, Minn., into the national spotlight with her handling of allegations of widespread sexual abuse there.
The state's highest court acted after Kathleen Morris' attorney said in a letter she would accept a judge's recommendation that the disciplinary action be imposed.
"My client believes that there are times in life that judgments adverse to oneself, although not perceived as fair, should be accepted," Stephen Doyle wrote in an Oct. 29 letter to the Minnesota Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility.
"Ms. Morris has concluded that this is just such a case."
The St. Paul Pioneer Press Dispatch reported that the Supreme Court filed its order reprimanding Morris on Nov. 13 but that the order apparently was inadvertently omitted from the court's routine The reprimand does not include a fine.
weekly releases of opinions to the news media.
Morris lost her bid for reelection in Scott County in 1986 and is now in private practice.
The reprimand amounts to public criticism and does not include a fine or any other sanction. The court also ordered Morris to pay $750 in costs to the professional responsibility office, which investigated and prosecuted the ethical complaint against her.
District Judge James Preece, of Bemidji, recommended the reprimand Oct. 21 after finding that Morris violated Minnesota's ethical code for lawyers.
Preece said the violations were withholding police notes from defense attorneys and violating a judge's order that child witnesses not be housed together.
Both violations occurred during the trial of Robert and Lois Bentz, who were acquitted in September 1984 of sexually abusing children.
The Bentzes were among 24 adults, including a police officer and a sheriff's deputy, charged by Morris with sexual abuse of children.
One man pleaded guilty, but the Bentzes were acquitted and Morris then dismissed the charges against the 21 others.
Doyle said Morris disagrees with Preece and the ethics office but decided it was time to accept the finding and "no longer burden your office or the court system with further review of these matters."
Doyle wrote, "The lessons learned by my client throughout the course of these proceedings will affect her conduct for a lifetime."