Janesville68°

Attorney barred from DA's office

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Mike DuPre'
February 26, 2008
— A Janesville lawyer who once worked as an assistant district attorney has been barred from the Rock County District Attorney’s Office for making what the DA calls “public slurs against Muslims.”

District Attorney David O’Leary barred Stephen Carpenter because of several incidents that O’Leary detailed in a Feb. 11 letter to Carpenter.


O’Leary has limited Carpenter to communication in writing with members of his office, the Rock County Victim Witness Office and the DA’s office for deferred prosecution and domestic violence intervention.


“If you call my office or have personal contact with my office in the future, I will consider having you arrested for disorderly conduct, trespassing or both,” O’Leary wrote.


Carpenter declined to comment Monday afternoon.


In addition, the State Public Defender’s Office has stopped assigning cases to Carpenter. The public defender regularly assigns cases to private attorneys when state-employed public defenders are not available to represent clients.


O’Leary noted three specific instances when Carpenter spoke about killing Muslims and referred to a fourth in his letter.


One of the employees in his office is Muslim and was offended by Carpenter’s remarks, O’Leary said.


According to O’Leary’s letter:


-- On Jan. 10, Carpenter was talking to sheriff’s department officers in the DA’s office.


During the conversation, Carpenter referred to his son and called him a “Muslim-killing Marine,” O’Leary wrote, adding:


“This is not the first time that you made such public slurs against Muslims. Several months prior to this incident, you were once again in the district attorney’s office near the reception area when you made a similar comment about your son killing Muslims.


“These comments are highly offensive to me and my staff.”


-- On March 29, 2006, Carpenter made a comment “that all Muslims should be killed” as he socialized near the office’s reception area, O’Leary wrote.


After that incident, O’Leary said, he put Carpenter on notice that such comments would not be tolerated.


-- On Oct. 18, 2002, Carpenter, still an assistant district attorney, spoke to a class at Craig High School.


Carpenter then said he hoped his son “bagged some Muslims” while serving in Iraq, and a Muslim student reported the remark to the principal, O’Leary wrote.


O’Leary said he then started formal disciplinary action against Carpenter and personally warned him that any further such behavior would result in his being fired.


Carpenter also got into hot water with O’Leary when—while still an assistant prosecutor—he essentially represented as a defense attorney an employee of Quotes, a bar that Carpenter and his wife, Denise, own and operate in downtown Janesville.


Carpenter eventually resigned from the district attorney’s office.


The State Public Defender’s Office has suspended Carpenter from taking further cases from the office “pending an investigation of the allegations,” spokesman Randy Kraft said Monday afternoon.


The state office asked Carpenter to respond in writing by Friday as to the accuracy of O’Leary’s allegations and as to how Carpenter plans to effectively represent clients in criminal cases while being barred from the DA’s office, Kraft said.


O’Leary said it’s not his concern whether Carpenter can effectively represent clients while being barred from the DA’s office.


“My concern was that a hostile work environment was being created for my employees,” O’Leary said. “My concern is for my employees and any victims or witnesses who might be sitting in my office and can hear such comments.”



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