Millionaire Midstokke appointed public defenderFargo, N.D. (WDAY TV) -Legal experts say this is the first time anyone with upwards of millions of dollars in North Dakota has ever been appointed a public defender.
By: Katie Lange, WDAY
Fargo, N.D. (WDAY TV) -Legal experts say this is the first time anyone with upwards of millions of dollars in North Dakota has ever been appointed a public defender. The unusual situation is raising questions and outraging some tax payers.
One of the biggest things in this case is that Midstokke wanted to hire Bruce Quick, one of the state's best and most expensive criminal defense Attorneys. That plan fell through when her son froze her assets.
Robin Huseby - ND Commission of Legal Counsel for Indigents: "It's just a really unusual situation."
So out of the ordinary it has Robin Huseby, Head of the State’s Public Defenders Officer, asking herself why.
Robin Huseby: "When you do criminal law - and I've done it for 30 plus years - I guess nothing really shocks me, but I was a little bit shocked when I saw this one."
A judge appointed Midstokke Grand Forks based Attorney Blake Hankey.
Robin Huseby: "It does suck resources that would otherwise be available for us."
Huseby says at least 12,000 cases are assigned to public defenders yearly throughout the state, and they're on a very tight budget.
Robin Huseby: "Due to the rising caseload, primarily out west we will not have enough funds for the rest of the biennium."
Last year the state appropriated the agency $12 million in general funds.
Robin Huseby: "I don't think that on behalf of my agency which is invested in state funds and citizen funds I don't want to be spending our funds if they shouldn't be spent. It's a pretty tricky legal situation."
Hankey could still be pulled from the case, but that's up to a probate judge.
At the end of the month it will be decided in court whether or not MidStokke's assets should be unfroze.
Robin Huseby: "There are a lot of laws that may affect the outcome of this."
For now, it's your tax dollars footing the bill.
Midstokkes next court appearance is February 26th. Her attorney plans to file a motion to change the venue from Steele County, as the Midstokke's have been life-long residents there.