Lawyers: Iowa public defender’s side police job a conflict

U.S. & World

File-In this Nov. 16, 2017, file photo, Larry Whaley, left, enters a Cerro Gordo County district courtroom in Mason City, Iowa with State Public Defender Michael Adams. Adams, a supervisor in the Iowa State Public Defender’s Office has a part-time side job as a local police officer, creating a potential conflict of interest. Adams supervises the special defense unit, tasked to defend low-income defendants in complex criminal cases statewide, but since 2008 he has also served as a part-time reserve police officer in the city of Colfax. The potential conflict of interest has surfaced this month in a murder case. (Arian Schuessler/The Globe Gazette via AP, File)

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — A supervisor with Iowa’s state Public Defender’s Office has a part-time side job as a local police officer, creating a potential conflict of interest.

Michael Adams is supervisor of the special defense unit, which is appointed to defend low-income defendants in complex criminal cases statewide. But since 2008, he has also served as a part-time reserve police officer in the city of Colfax.

Adams’ unit is routinely appointed to defend clients in Jasper County even as he occasionally patrols one of its cities as an officer.

The potential conflict has gone largely unnoticed, but it became an issue this month in a murder case involving a man who was investigated by Colfax police and is being represented by Adams’ unit. Adams says he has no direct involvement on either side of the case.

Still, multiple defense attorneys say they were stunned to learn of Adams’ dual roles.

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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