JUDGE BORGEN VINDICATED
Former Clay County prosecutor, Lisa Borgen, was appointed last year to a 7th Judicial District judgeship. Last fall (2006) the Minnesota Supreme Court overturned the murder conviction (2004) of Troy Demetrius Mayhorn. The Court sated that Borgen displayed misconduct while she cross-examined Mayhorn, specifically citing her comment, “You wouldn’t know the truth if it hit you in the face.”
The Minnesota Office of Lawyer Professional Responsibility, an arm of the State Supreme Court, upon its own initiative, opened an investigation into Judge Borgen’s conduct in the Mayhorn case.
Judge Borgen received support by county attorneys and law enforcement representatives from across the state. Ms. Borgen’s legal bills were paid by Clay County and they will total more than $20,000.
This week after five months (the goal to complete an investigation is 90 days), the Minnesota Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility released its report with the conclusion that “discipline is not warranted.”
I am happy to see this outcome. I don’t know Judge Borgen. I do have a favorable impression of her as a hard-working and no nonsense prosecutor and now judge who is tough with criminals and abusers.
A couple of thoughts:
The Minnesota Supreme Court is stuck in its ivory tower. A jury is going to be convinced by the evidence--not by an attorney’s rhetoric in closing arguments. I assume the prosecutor considers a defendant who goes to trial to be a liar—otherwise they wouldn’t prosecute the case. If accusing a defendant in a murder case of being a liar is unethical, then the justices should spend some time in family court and see what lawyers say and write about good citizens every day.
What was the motivation of the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility in opening a case? Why did it take five months to complete its investigation—a seemingly simple investigation. I have to wonder about their judgment and motivation.
I once filed a complaint with the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility. I questioned the ethics and professionalism of an attorney. They wrote back and asked me to send more information, which I did. I sent all the legal documents I had including motions, affidavits, a judge’s ruling, and attorney arguments. The facts surrounding my issues were mostly clear-cut. To my surprise the opened an investigation (they dismiss 90% of all complaints).
After more than 90 days they wrote back with the same language: “discipline is not warranted.” I was okay with the outcome as I had expressed my concerns; it was the investigative report that I had issues with. After 30 years as a Secret Service Agent, business executive with heavy involvement in labor relations and the courts, and a consultant who conducted investigations, I was appalled by the quality of the investigative report: factual inaccuracies, a serious misquote of my complaint, a failure to even address seven of the eight issues I raised, and more. I did not appeal the decision, but I did write a long letter to the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility complaining of their work. No one wrote back.
A legal professional, upon hearing of my experience said, “That is how they all are (lawyers)—shoddy and sloppy—it is all about billable hours.” I consider the legal system to be highly dysfunctional. I think people from outside the legal system should investigate lawyers—people with clear heads whose feet are on the ground. Using people from outside the profession to investigate lawyers might help confront the denial in what one local professional in a position to know referred to as a ‘broken system.”