For Immediate Release
Media Contact: Bob Cooper
(208) 334-4112

Date: May 20, 2004

Attorney General's Office Withdraws from University Place Investigation

(Boise) - The Office of the Attorney General notified Ada County Prosecuting Attorney Greg Bower that it has withdrawn from the investigation of the University Place matter. In a letter to Bower, Assistant Chief Deputy Thorpe Orton indicated that conflicts of interest have arisen that make it ethically inappropriate for the OAG to continue the investigation.

"As we discussed [on May 5, 2004], we have determined that serious conflicts of interest arise from the University Place matter," Orton wrote. "Our preliminary examination of the report indicates a need to conduct interviews that would implicate issues of attorney-client privilege, rule of confidentiality, and legal conflicts of interest. As you know, the Attorney General has a constitutional and statutory duty to represent the State of Idaho, which includes representation of the various elected officials and departments. The Attorney General also has legal responsibility to supervise nonprofit corporations, which is a duty that is implicated in the University Place matter with respect to the University of Idaho Foundation. Our review of the Idaho Rules of Professional Conduct, including but not limited to, Rules 1.6, 1.7, and 1.8, leads us to conclude that our office cannot ethically proceed in this matter."

"Therefore, we return this matter to you as the constitutional officer in charge of criminal prosecutions in Ada County," Orton continued. "We also re-affirm our commitment to assisting you, at your request, in identifying and securing an appropriate prosecutor or prosecuting entity to conduct a thorough and credible criminal investigation/prosecution."

"What is most important is that the University Place matter be investigated thoroughly and objectively so that the interests of justice are served and the citizens of Idaho know the truth and have confidence in the outcome," Attorney General Lawrence Wasden said. "It is imperative for the credibility of the investigation that it be conducted by an impartial entity unencumbered by legal or ethical conflicts."

Wasden added that his office's withdrawal from the case is consistent with the original agreement with Ada County. On January 22, 2004, the Attorney General's Office, indicating that no conflicts had yet arisen, accepted the case for investigation on the condition that "[i]f we do discover such a conflict, we will let you know so that other arrangements can be made."

View memorandum regarding ethics analysis.

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