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Carlton County attorney walks off job, delegates assistant to his duties

Carlton County Attorney Thom Pertler (Pine Journal file)

Carlton County Attorney Thom Pertler has not been serving in his elected role since shortly after his resounding defeat in the General Election on Nov. 6 at the hands of county attorney-elect Lauri Ketola, according to a statement by acting County Attorney Jeffrey Boucher.

"Mr. Pertler removed his personal items and no longer comes into the office," Boucher, who has been serving as assistant county attorney, said in an email. "On Nov. 13, he delegated me authority to be acting county attorney in his absence."

Ketola took 77 percent of the vote in the election to Pertler's 23 percent. She will be sworn in as county attorney Jan. 2 and officially take over direction of the office Jan. 7.

In a statement released Wednesday, Dec. 19, Boucher revealed he had initiated a "Brady Disclosure Policy" in the Carlton County Attorney's Office earlier in the month. Brady v. Maryland is a 1963 Supreme Court case requiring disclosure of exculpatory material to defendants in criminal prosecutions, including misconduct findings involving law enforcement officers.

The policy was in response to allegations of misconduct surrounding former Cloquet police officer Scott Beckman. Boucher said 18 cases involving Beckman have already been dismissed, another four cases submitted for review were not charged and 25 more cases are under review.

Pertler was investigated in 2017 following an apparent miscommunication when the Carlton County Attorney's Office failed to file a brief in a murder case that was then overturned by the Minnesota Court of Appeals.

In another highly publicized incident, Pertler pleaded guilty to a 2012 drunken driving charge.

Pertler was first appointed to be the county attorney in 2005 after Marv Ketola retired mid-term. Pertler was elected in 2006 and re-elected twice.

Pertler declined to comment for this article, but did confirm he had taken a health-related leave of absence.

Jamey Malcomb

Jamey Malcomb has been a reporter for the Pine Journal since October 2018. He previously worked as a reporter for the Lake County News-Chronicle from 2015-2018. Malcomb is a native of North Carolina and holds a bachelor's degree in English and history from the George Washington University and a master's degree in education from George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. Malcomb moved to Minnesota in July 2012 and worked as a sports clerk and news assistant at the Duluth News Tribune. 

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