A former La Paz County Attorney, hired by the town of Quartzsite council and now serving as its Town Attorney, has been formally reprimanded by the Arizona Supreme Court.
Martin Brannan’s reprimand stems from an incident that occurred while he was serving as Chief Deputy Apache County Attorney several months ago:
[Brannan and Whiting,]… in their capacity as county attorney and chief deputy county attorney, authorized county investigators to interview a criminal defendant (who was incarcerated and represented by counsel) to ascertain whether or not the defendant had been advised by his attorney of the pending plea offer. Respondent Brannan erroneously believed that pursuant to Montejo v. Louisiana, 129 S.Ct. 2079 (Louisiana 2009), it would be permissible to interview the defendant regarding the plea as long as the investigators “Mirandized” the defendant and he waived his right to have his counsel present. The defendant’s attorney did not receive advanced notice of the visit and was not present during the visit.
The judge in the case released the murder suspect saying his rights had been violated by Brannan and Whiting.
Respondent Brannon’s misconduct as described above constituted grounds for the imposition of discipline pursuant to the Rules of the Supreme Court of Arizona and violated Rule 42, ER 4.2 (communications with person represented by counsel).
Respondents’ negligent misconduct caused actual harm to the legal system.
The following factors were found in aggravation: 9.22(i) (substantial experience in the practice of law).
The following factors were found in mitigation: 9.32(a) (absence of prior disciplinary offenses), 9.32(b) (absence of selfish or dishonest motive), and 9.32(e) (full and free disclosure to a disciplinary board or cooperative attitude).
The judgment can be found here.