COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho (AP) — A northern Idaho attorney contracted to serve as public defender for a foster parent indicted in the death of a 2-year-old girl will keep working on the Kootenai County case after a judge rejected claims of a possible conflict of interest.
County commissioners voted last week to dump a special contract with private attorney Sean Walsh for the defense of Jeremy M. Clark, 35, of Post Falls. Clark is charged, along with his wife, in the 2009 death of Karina J. Moore.
Commissioners contend Walsh was not upfront about his wife, Mayli Walsh, being employed as an attorney in the county public defender's office. Commissioners also claim they didn't know Walsh's law office partner was married to a deputy prosecutor with the county.
"To me, he represented himself as a one-man office," commissioner Jai Nelson told the Coeur d'Alene Press (http://bit.ly/s4EWLY). "I had no idea he had a partner, let alone it was someone I'd met, or that his wife worked for the county."
But a judge in 1st District Court ruled Thursday there was no conflict of interest and Walsh should remain as Clark's attorney in the case,
"I am pleased that Mr. Clark can now put to rest the question of whether his Sixth Amendment right to counsel will be honored in Kootenai County," Walsh said after the ruling. "I look forward to vigorously defending Jeremy as the case progresses."
Local government officials have no problem with Walsh continuing to work on the case, said Kootenai County Commissioner Todd Tondee
"We weren't saying there was a conflict, we were just saying there was a perception (of one)," Tondee said.
Clark and his wife, Amber, 28, had been foster parents to Karina for more than a year when the child died in January 2009, days after the Clarks told police she fell down stairs. A coroner ruled the death a homicide caused by blunt force head injuries.
A grand jury indictment handed down in November alleges the Clarks also abused a boy in their care in December 2007 and January 2008 by putting him in ice baths and inflicting injuries to his body and head. The boy was 4 or 5 at the time.
The Clarks were given separate defense attorneys and each face two counts of felony injury to a child, conspiracy to conceal evidence of abuse and perjury.
Kootenai County commissioners have also approved a special contract to help prosecute the couple. Private attorney Betsy Black, who is married to the county's chief deputy criminal prosecutor, was awarded a contract to work with prosecutors in the case.
Information from: Coeur d'Alene Press, http://www.cdapress.com