Muscatine County board OKs troubled attorney over objections
MUSCATINE, Iowa (AP) — A Muscatine attorney with a troubled past was appointed Monday as the county’s interim top prosecutor, despite objections and warnings from the local bar association.
The Muscatine County Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to approve James Barry as the interim county attorney until a new attorney can be elected in November, the Muscatine Journal reported.
In 2004, a judge removed Barry as Cass County attorney for misconduct in office, including a scheme that reduced traffic court sentences in exchange for cash payments to a sheriff’s drug fund. Barry was also accused of taking possession of confiscated guns that should have been destroyed. As a result, Barry’s state law license was suspended for a year in 2009.
Those who supported Barry’s appointment said he was the only qualified candidate to apply for the position.
“The committee carefully reviewed each of the disciplinary actions against Mr. Barry, spoke to the references he provided and references he didn’t provide,” Supervisor Nathan Mather said. “Everyone I spoke with, including his current employer, said the man has completely changed.”
Supervisor Scott Sauer said “hiccups in his past” should not keep Barry from the role.
Muscatine County Chief Deputy Sheriff Ardyth Slight, who served on the search committee for county attorney, did not support the recommendation, and attorney Liz Araguas, speaking on behalf of the Muscatine County Bar Association, warned that appointing Barry puts the county at risk.
“The malfeasance committed by Mr. Barry was not a hiccup, it was years of deliberate fraud,” she said.
Barry did not attend the video conference meeting Monday. He did not immediately return a message left by The Associated Press seeking comment.