Month: August 2015

Jamie Gentry LaPrad, Attorney, ada, Davidson County, NC (Lexington) - NC Rules of Professional Conduct

Prosecutor Rules of Professional Conduct – North Carolina

Former Assistant District Attorney Jamie Gentry LaPrad crossed to the wrong side of the law, The Dispatch concluded, after the public got wind of LaPrad’s nefarious conduct while employed by the Davidson County District Attorney’s Office.

That conduct allegedly involved threats to geld a coworker after he called off a romantic relationship with LaPrad. It also appears there may have been some sort of lingering lust involving a “big candy cane” and other “toys” the two once enjoyed using on each other.

But enough about that. Our earlier Jamie Gentry LaPrad post details the allegations included in coworker Alan Martin’s motion for a protective order against LaPrad, which was granted summarily.

Shifting gears, this post responds to the swell of comments we have received in the wake of our earlier posts on the Jamie Gentry LaPrad scandal, and in particular to the leitmotif in those comments concerning the regulation of North Carolina prosecutors’ conduct.

To be clear, whether Jamie Gentry LaPrad committed misconduct in the course of her duties as a prosecutor for the State of North Carolina is beyond the scope of this post—as explained below, those questions will be up to the North Carolina State Bar and the courts to decide. Instead, this post simply covers rules that all prosecutors in North Carolina must follow, from the perspective of legal ethics.

Prosecutorial misconduct

To help frame the discussion that follows, we begin with an overview of prosecutorial misconduct from The Open File:

Prosecutors commit misconduct when in the course of their professional duties they act in ways that are inconsistent with ethical mandates they are obliged to obey. Such misconduct exists at and near the intersection of two sets of rules: one is the legal rules that bind prosecutors so as to ensure due process – the state and federal constitution, statutory law, rules of criminal procedure, judicial orders, and the like. The other is the ethical standards of the legal profession as expressed in each state bar’s rules of professional responsibility and similar professional codes.

Often an act of prosecutorial misconduct will violate both legal and professional codes. Though, because the codes differ in some ways, sometimes an act of misconduct may violate one code but not the other. Prosecutors are required to abide by both.

Enforcement of the two codes differs. When prosecutors violate legal rules as part of a criminal case, the primary recourse is for the criminal defendant to ask to have his conviction overturned (or if the trial is in progress, to ask the judge for a mistrial, to strike matters from the record, or to otherwise minimize the damage caused). When prosecutors violate professional rules, the bar complaint process is the primary enforcement mechanism.

Our focus here is only on one of the sources of law that governs prosecutors’ conduct—North Carolina’s code of professional responsibility, to which we now turn.

North Carolina Rules of Professional Conduct

Generally speaking, prosecutors’ conduct is regulated by professional norms—as mentioned above, every state adopts ethics codes to regulate the legal profession within its borders, and the courts in each state adopt ethics rules to govern lawyers practicing in their jurisdictions. These rules are largely based on model rules developed by the American Bar Association.

But in the practice of law, prosecutors are special, in the sense that they are not only subject to the rules that govern all lawyers generally in each state but also held to a heightened set of rules, given their status as “ministers of justice.”

Here are some of those rules (followed by instructive commentary), pulled directly from the North Carolina State Bar’s website:

Rule 3.8 Special Responsibilities of a Prosecutor

The prosecutor in a criminal case shall:

(a) refrain from prosecuting a charge that the prosecutor knows is not supported by probable cause;

(b) make reasonable efforts to assure that the accused has been advised of the right to, and the procedure for obtaining, counsel and has been given reasonable opportunity to obtain counsel;

(c) not seek to obtain from an unrepresented accused a waiver of important pretrial rights, such as the right to a preliminary hearing;

(d) after reasonably diligent inquiry, make timely disclosure to the defense of all evidence or information required to be disclosed by applicable law, rules of procedure, or court opinions including all evidence or information known to the prosecutor that tends to negate the guilt of the accused or mitigates the offense, and, in connection with sentencing, disclose to the defense and to the tribunal all unprivileged mitigating information known to the prosecutor, except when the prosecutor is relieved of this responsibility by a protective order of the tribunal;

(e) not subpoena a lawyer in a grand jury or other criminal proceeding to present evidence about a past or present client, or participate in the application for the issuance of a search warrant to a lawyer for the seizure of information of a past or present client in connection with an investigation of someone other than the lawyer, unless:

(1) the information sought is not protected from disclosure by any applicable privilege;

(2) the evidence sought is essential to the successful completion of an ongoing investigation or prosecution; and

(3) there is no other feasible alternative to obtain the information;

(f) except for statements that are necessary to inform the public of the nature and extent of the prosecutor’s action and that serve a legitimate law enforcement purpose, refrain from making extrajudicial comments that have a substantial likelihood of heightening public condemnation of the accused and exercise reasonable care to prevent investigators, law enforcement personnel, employees or other persons assisting or associated with the prosecutor in a criminal case from making an extrajudicial statement that the prosecutor would be prohibited from making under Rule 3.6 or this Rule.


[1] A prosecutor has the responsibility of a minister of justice and not simply that of an advocate; the prosecutor’s duty is to seek justice, not merely to convict. This responsibility carries with it specific obligations to see that the defendant is accorded procedural justice and that guilt is decided upon the basis of sufficient evidence. Precisely how far the prosecutor is required to go in this direction is a matter of debate and varies in different jurisdictions. See the ABA Standards of Criminal Justice Relating to the Prosecution Function. A systematic abuse of prosecutorial discretion could constitute a violation of Rule 8.4.

[2] The prosecutor represents the sovereign and, therefore, should use restraint in the discretionary exercise of government powers, such as in the selection of cases to prosecute. During trial, the prosecutor is not only an advocate, but he or she also may make decisions normally made by an individual client, and those affecting the public interest should be fair to all. In our system of criminal justice, the accused is to be given the benefit of all reasonable doubt. With respect to evidence and witnesses, the prosecutor has responsibilities different from those of a lawyer in private practice; the prosecutor should make timely disclosure to the defense of available evidence known to him or her that tends to negate the guilt of the accused, mitigate the degree of the offense, or reduce the punishment. Further, a prosecutor should not intentionally avoid pursuit of evidence merely because he or she believes it will damage the prosecutor’s case or aid the accused.

[3] Paragraph (c) does not apply, however, to an accused appearing pro se with the approval of the tribunal. Nor does it forbid the lawful questioning of an uncharged suspect who has knowingly waived the rights to counsel and silence.

[4] Every prosecutor should be aware of the discovery requirements established by statutory law and case law. See, e.g., N.C. Gen. Stat. §15A-903 et. seq, Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963); Giglio v. U.S., 405 U.S. 150 (1972); Kyles v. Whitley, 514 U.S. 419 (1995). The exception in paragraph (d) recognizes that a prosecutor may seek an appropriate protective order from the tribunal if disclosure of information to the defense could result in substantial harm to an individual or to the public interest.

[5] Paragraph (e) is intended to limit the issuance of lawyer subpoenas in grand jury and other criminal proceedings, and search warrants for client information, to those situations in which there is a genuine need to intrude into the client-lawyer relationship. The provision applies only when someone other than the lawyer is the target of a criminal investigation.

[6] Paragraph (f) supplements Rule 3.6, which prohibits extrajudicial statements that have a substantial likelihood of prejudicing an adjudicatory proceeding. In the context of a criminal prosecution, a prosecutor’s extrajudicial statement can create the additional problem of increasing public condemnation of the accused. Although the announcement of an indictment, for example, will necessarily have severe consequences for the accused, a prosecutor can, and should, avoid comments which have no legitimate law enforcement purpose and have a substantial likelihood of increasing public opprobrium of the accused. Nothing in this Comment is intended to restrict the statements that a prosecutor may make which comply with Rule 3.6(b) or 3.6(c).

[7] Like other lawyers, prosecutors are subject to Rules 5.1 and 5.3, which relate to responsibilities regarding lawyers and nonlawyers who work for or are associated with the lawyer’s office. Paragraph (f) reminds the prosecutor of the importance of these obligations in connection with the unique dangers of improper extrajudicial statements in a criminal case. In addition, paragraph (f) requires a prosecutor to exercise reasonable care to prevent persons assisting or associated with the prosecutor from making improper extrajudicial statements, even when such persons are not under the direct supervision of the prosecutor. Ordinarily, the reasonable care standard will be satisfied if the prosecutor issues the appropriate cautions to law-enforcement personnel and other relevant individuals.

History Note: Statutory Authority G. 84-23

Adopted July 24, 1997; Amended March 1, 2003.
Amended November 16, 2006.

Update: Our Prosecutor Rules of Professional Conduct in South Carolina post offers insights into the similarities and differences between these rules in each state. 

The Bail Trap

“Criminal justice,” President Obama remarked at the NAACP’s national conference last month, “is not as fair as it should be.”

As a precursor to a post we are developing, which highlights bail practices across the country as one of the foremost failings of our modern criminal justice system, we wanted to share The Bail Trap,” an illuminating piece published by the New York Times this week. “Every year, thousands of innocent people are sent to jail only because they can’t afford to post bail,” Journalist Nick Pinto writes, “putting them at risk of losing their jobs, custody of their children — even their lives.”

The issue of America’s bail system was also discussed in the Undisclosed Podcasts’s “Making Bail in Baltimore” episode aired last month, for those who follow the State v. Adnan Syed case.

But this is not just an in vogue topic. In 1964, then-Attorney General Robert Kennedy said in a speech to a conference on pretrial justice:

What has been demonstrated here is that usually only one factor determines whether a defendant stays in jail before he comes to trial. That factor is not guilt or innocence. It is not the nature of the crime. It is not the character of the defendant. That factor is, simply, money. How much money does the defendant have?

Fifty-one years later—with little to no progress having been made to reform this injustice—we look forward to joining the constructive discourse, and the continued push for change. Stay tuned.


Jamie Gentry LaPrad, Attorney, NC, ada, Davidson County, Lexington, assistant district attorney, fired, scandal, corruption

North Carolina’s Candy Cane Prosecutor Jamie Gentry LaPrad Dismissed

Candy Cane Prosecutor Update

Davidson County District Attorney Garry Frank handed Assistant District Attorney Jamie Gentry LaPrad a pink slip to go with her candy cane, but only some months after fellow prosecutor—and fellow Frank underling—Alan Martin petitioned the Mecklenburg County courts for a restraining order against LaPrad, according to The Dispatch.

Jamie Gentry LaPrad was “released from her duties,” as The Dispatch puts it, on August 27, 2014, under an “involuntary separation.”

Jamie Gentry LaPrad’s dismissal leaves lingering questions, concerns

Why Davidson County’s top law enforcement officer took so long to get rid of LaPrad is as baffling as it is concerning. Martin’s court filings not only are a matter of public record but—by that very fact—furnished adequate grounds to investigate and promptly address this matter. More to the point, Frank’s belated move does nothing to restore public confidence in LaPrad’s inherently suspect pre-dismissal performance representing the State of North Carolina in criminal proceedings.

Without exception, Martin’s filings unveil a very dark and troubled public official. But they further unveil a cavalier willingness to disregard the law.

To cite but one example, the complaint quotes LaPrad as having made threats to

  • (1) castrate the man who rejected her (a felony in North Carolina), and
  • (2) portend malfeasance on both Martin’s new romantic interest and her family (likely a serious misdemeanor).

And this all appears to have stemmed from LaPrad simply not getting her way.

On the whole, this leaves serious questions not only about Jamie Gentry LaPrad’s (dis-)respecting the law but also about how LaPrad, as a minister of justice, dealt with defeat.

This is a follow-up to our earlier post on North Carolina’s Candy Cane Prosecutor, Jamie Gentry LaPrad. Martin’s court filings are included in that post.

13 law enforcement officers indicted in FBI drug sting

In May 2015, federal officials reported that thirteen law enforcement officers from North Carolina and Virginia had been arrested and indicted for protecting illegal narcotics shipments along the east coast.

The arrests were part of the FBI’s two-year “Operation Rockfish” investigation.

The thirteen former and then-current law enforcement officers were allegedly prepared to transport substantial quantities of cocaine and heroin as part of a large-scale drug smuggling ring. Two civilians were also arrested for their alleged involvement in the operation. All fifteen were charged with conspiring to distribute controlled substances and conspiring to use and carry firearms during the commission of the drug trafficking offenses.

Other charges against some of the defendants included attempted extortion, attempted possession with intent to distribute controlled substances, money laundering, federal programs bribery, and use and carry of firearms during and in relation to crimes of violence and drug trafficking offenses.

The arrests were made at two separate locations. One group of defendants was arrested at the Halifax-Northampton Regional Airport. From that location, they allegedly believed that they would be transporting multiple kilograms of illegal narcotics to a warehouse in Rocky Mount, North Carolina. A second group of defendants was arrested at the warehouse in Rocky Mount.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell released a statement that vowed to root out law-enforcement misconduct: “Corruption in local government—especially involving law enforcement—threatens the social compact that binds our communities together.” U.S. Attorney Thomas Walker of the Eastern District of North Carolina and Special Agent in Charge John Strong of the FBI’s Charlotte division joined Caldwell to announce the indictments and arrests. “Public corruption at any level is the number one criminal priority of the FBI and we will work aggressively to protect the public trust,” said Special Agent in Charge Strong.

Here are the individuals who were indicted in the Eastern District of North Carolina and arrested April 30, 2015 in the FBI’s operation:

  • Lann Tjuan Clanton, 36, a correctional officer with the Virginia Department of Corrections;
  • Ikeisha Jacobs, 32, a deputy with the Northampton County Sheriff’s Office;
  • Jason Boone, 29, a deputy with the Northampton County Sheriff’s Office;
  • Wardie Vincent Jr., 35, formerly of the Northampton County Sheriff’s Office;
  • Adrienne Moody, 39, a correctional officer with the North Carolina Department of Public Safety;
  • Cory Jackson, 43, formerly of the Northampton County Sheriff’s Office;
  • Jimmy Pair Jr., 48, a deputy with the Northampton County Sheriff’s Office;
  • Curtis Boone, 31, a deputy with the Northampton County Sheriff’s Office;
  • Antonio Tillmon, 31, a police officer with the Windsor City Police Department;
  • Alaina Kamling, 27, a correctional officer with the North Carolina Department of Public Safety;
  • Kavon Phillips, 25, a correctional officer with the North Carolina Department of Public Safety;
  • Crystal Pierce, 31, of Raleigh, North Carolina;
  • Alphonso Ponton, 42, a correctional officer with the Virginia Department of Corrections;
  • Thomas Jefferson Allen II, 37, a deputy with the Northampton County Sheriff’s Office; and
  • Tosha Dailey, 31, a 911 dispatch operator for Northampton County.

The local sheriff told ABC11 that he planned to cooperate with the investigation: “Our people are not above the law and should be brought to justice just as any citizen would. I am glad to see them brought to justice.”

Jamie Gentry LaPrad, Attorney, NC, ada, Davidson County, Lexington, Assistant District Attorney, fired, corruption

Assistant District Attorney Jamie Gentry LaPrad to Colleague: The Big Candy Cane You Enjoy Using on Me

Jamie Gentry LaPrad apparently thinks the law applies to everyone but her.

A domestic violence protective order was issued in June 2014 against LaPrad, an assistant district attorney in Davidson County, at the request of a fellow prosecutor, according to the Lexington Dispatch. Davidson County’s local newspaper reported that “Alan B. Martin, also an assistant district attorney for Davidson County who lives in Mecklenburg County, petitioned for the domestic violence order against LaPrad.”

Before going any further, we begin by noting the Jamie Gentry LaPrad saga has all the trappings of a “West Virginia Invades North Carolina” byline: As we’re about to see, the Old North State’s doling out so-called justice through LaPrad is perhaps as squalid as it gets.

To be sure, even a cursory read of Alan Martin’s court filings (most of which are included in the link at the bottom of this post) will likely leave you both disgusted and disturbed by the top law enforcement officials in Davidson County—and in particular, by Miss Jamie Genry LaPrad.

The revelations in those filings, however, also lead us to caution that this post only covers parts of them. That said, we strongly encourage an independent review of Martin’s filings (link below) for added insights into the “mentally unstable woman” who—despite this arguably apt characterization—had the power to single-handedly shape the lives and futures of alleged suspects in North Carolina.

Notably, an attorney who has practiced in Davidson County for nearly fifty years told us the only way to get justice in a case prosecuted by LaPrad was to get counsel who neither knew nor had any connection to her.

With that in mind, we now return to the restraining order LaPrad’s co-worker secured against her, after calling off the romance between them.

Petition for protective order against LaPrad

Alan Martin’s petition says that LaPrad, in one month’s time, sent him over 169 uncalled-for emails and 493 uncalled-for text messages. The petition includes what appears to be screen shots of several of the texts that LaPrad allegedly sent, some of which featured what we’ll (*cough* euphemistically) call “selfies” (and have redacted from the linked filings).

Others involved LaPrad asking Martin about “toys” she had at his house:

Hey baby, what was that you wanted me to do to you again?
Something with the “toys” that I still have at your house?
Or maybe with the big candycane [sic] that you enjoy using on me so much?

And still others, which appear to have been sent while LaPrad was at work–i.e., on North Carolina taxpayers’ dime–suggest a jilted LaPrad may have asked police to “be on the lookout” for Martin and his (new) girlfriend drinking and driving:

Are you coming to work today?

Oh your [sic] on the phone with your girlfriend. Well if you are planning your dates for Thursday or this week, I would think twice about that. Especially about being seen with her and drinking and driving. There may be a few bolos out.

And if you think that’s intense, that’s not even half of it.

LaPrad’s physical threats

According to court filings, LaPrad

[T]hreatened to cut [Martin’s] balls off, made repetitive comments to [Martin] that she would not honor his requests to cease contact, sent emails and text messages that [Martin] believed demonstrated an intent to terrorize [Martin], and put him in fear of imminent serious bodily injury. [LaPrad] continued to pursue pattern of behavior intending to terrorize [Martin].

The filings further allege that Martin had reason to believe that LaPrad intended to harm him, and that LaPrad communicated the following physical threats to Martin either in person, by email, or by text message:

  1. “And if I do see you around Davidson or anywhere for that matter with another woman or if you even sit beside another woman at lunch, dinner, whatever it may be, I will cut your balls off, especially after all the times you cheated on me.”
  2. “I’m just trying to figure out which girl you left with tonight because when I find out who you are cheating on me with, see previous text.” (referencing above text message in which LaPrad threatened to “cut [Martin’s] balls off”)
  3. “When something happens to you, the girl you’re seeing, or her family, you will be the cause of it.”

Emotional and psychological torment

There is more. The court documents also say Martin “fe[lt] harassed not only by the sheer volume of communication he [had] receive[d from LaPrad], but by the content of the messages,” explaining that he had been “emotionally and psychologically tormented” by the following threats communicated by LaPrad:

  1. “And after everything you have done to me and after how horribly you’ve treated me and continue to treat me, I wouldn’t test me …. You will be miserable and that’s what you deserve for the way you treated me.”
  2. “I think that’s fair, to treat you the way you are treating me. And if at any point in time, you want the hell to stop, you can talk to me.”
  3. “I know you plan your dates at work, but how sweet to love on her before work. I’ll just have to hack your phone records like you did my email account to find out who she is …. “
  4. “I’m closing next week. Full approval finalized today! I’m sorry this does not make you happy. I’m not moving for you, I’m moving for me. If you change your attitude, change the way you treat me, and plan a time to chat with me, everything will be fine. If you chose [sic] not to do the above, then it won’t work out. See above texts. I’m sorry, it really is in your hands.” (referring to LaPrad’s moving into a condominium located 200 yards from Martin’s residence)
  5. “If you … indeed truly want things to get better, then you’ll stop making me miserable and you’ll sit down and talk to me at some point this week. If you want things to get worse, then you won’t. The choice really is up to you but this is the absolute last chance, and if you don’t talk, trust me, you’ll regret it.”
  6. “[I]f I do see you around Davidson or anywhere for that matter with another woman or if you even sit beside another woman at lunch, dinner, whatever it may be or even talking to another woman, it will not be pleasant. In a month, you will be begging for a truce, but in a month, it will be too late. Think about this now.”

Stalking allegations

“Why stop there?” Jamie LaPrad thought to herself, perhaps. According to Martin’s complaint, LaPrad also communicated several statements which indicated she was stalking him. The complaint states: “The fact that [Martin] is being followed by a mentally unstable woman leaves [him] fearful for the safety of himself, his family, and any other people with whom he associates.”

The complaint then lists these statements that LaPrad communicated to Martin:

  1. “Oh and you’re on the phone with your little slut now so you can adequately warn her.”
  2. “If you want to bring some other woman into it and her children then that’s up to you but I’ll make you and her and possibly her children just as miserable as you’ve made me.”
  3. “Oh your [sic] on the phone with your girlfriend. Well if you are planning your dates for Thursday or this week, I would think twice about that. … And if you think that’s intense, that’s not even half of it.”
  4. “So your new gf is from South Carolina. Thanks for the info[.]” (LaPrad was at Martin’s residence, and Martin had a visitor whose vehicle was parked in his driveway with South Carolina registration plates)

Threats to Martin’s children

The complaint also alleges that LaPrad threatened to harass Martin’s young children (it lists two children, both under ten-years-old) in a message that stated:

And since you’ve done everything in your power to turn the kinds [sic] against me, I’ll make sure law enforcement shows up at your house re the hacking into my email when you have the kids so they will know the real truth about their daddy. The daddy they would rather not be with.

Pornographic images of LaPrad

To top things off, according to the complaint, LaPrad further harassed Martin “by sending him multiple text messages and emails containing pornographic images of herself.”

All the while, Jamie Gentry LaPrad was representing the State of North Carolina in criminal proceedings.

Copies of the filings are below.

Martin v. LaPrad

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