The Minnesota Supreme Court announced the disbarment of a former Carlton County attorney on Friday.
The decision comes after the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility filed a petition for disciplinary action in July against Thom Pertler, who was accused of failing to inform other staff of a misconduct investigation into a former Cloquet police officer.
The Pine Journal reported Pertler failed to alert Jeffrey Boucher and Michael Boese, assistant county attorneys, of substantiated claims of misconduct against Cloquet Police Cpl. Scott Beckman.
Pertler failed to return a phone call seeking comment at the time of publishing.
According to the petition, his inaction resulted in the dismissal of charges in 19 cases. Charges in eight additional cases were also retroactively dismissed, resulting in the release of one incarcerated person, according to the Cloquet Pine Journal.
The Pine Journal reported in July that Pertler had his license, but wasn't actively practicing law.
The Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility's petition for disciplinary action claims Pertler failed to disclose information about police misconduct, which was required of him.
Cloquet Police Chief Steve Stracek sent Pertler a packet of information regarding an investigation into suspicious activity and a subsequent search warrant application on May 2, 2016, according to Pine Journal reporting on the petition.
One year later, Pertler received an investigation report that substantiated claims against Beckman, claiming he omitted relevant information in a search warrant application and conducted an incomplete investigation in February 2016. As a result, Beckman was suspended for his conduct.
Two weeks later, the Cloquet City Council voted to place Stracek on administrative leave while they investigated a "vote of no confidence" the Teamsters Local 346 filed. The union represents Cloquet police officers and sergeants, the Pine Journal reported.
Stracek was later exonerated of the allegations, but also resigned as chief.
In April 2017, Pertler requested Boucher, an assistant county attorney, to draft a "Brady policy." This policy requires disclosing exculpatory material to defendants in criminal prosecutions, including findings that involve law enforcement officers.
Although Boucher created the draft policy later that month, Pertler didn't inform Boucher or the other assistant county attorneys of misconduct findings against Beckman and didn't implement the policy, the Pine Journal reported.
In May 2018, Boese received a request for Brady information, and notified Pertler of the request. During this process, Boese learned that Pertler was previously notified of Beckman's misconduct and informed the other assistant county attorneys.
Boese's case and 18 other cases involving Beckman were ultimately dismissed in August 2018.
Pertler didn't seek Brady information from law enforcement agencies as of early October 2018, and failed to implement a policy.
After being defeated in the 2018 election, the Pine Journal reported that Pertler collected personal items from the office, appointed Boucher as acting county attorney and didn't return to work.
One month later, Boucher implemented the Brady policy. Eight days after this, he informed the Cloquet City Administrator that there were "multiple substantiated findings of misconduct related to dishonesty," the Pine Journal reported.
Beckman and the City Council reached a separation agreement that December.
When the new Carlton County Attorney took over, she ordered a review of all cases involving Beckman, resulting in the dismissal of 19 cases, and eight convictions were overturned as a result of Beckman's involvement.
The petition also claims Pertler didn't train Carlton County Attorney's Office staff.
Pertler unconditionally admitted to the petition's statements. And, in agreement with the office's director, has agreed the appropriate discipline is disbarment and a payment of $900, a news release from the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility said.