Another attorney says the Faribault County Attorney’s Office acted improperly by interviewing his client without permission.
“I am flabbergasted and incensed. I object to my client being forced to testify without the advice of his counsel at that interview and trial,” says Chris Ritts, an attorney for Wyatt Tungland.
In an affidavit filed in Faribault County District Court, Ritts says assistant County Attorney LaMar Piper knew he was representing Tungland for an alleged probation and still subpoenaed him for an interview at the County Attorney’s Office.
“They did not obtain my permission and did not invite me to attend the interview either personally or via telephone,” he says. “I have never heard such a thing or seen it done in 35 years of my practice in law.”
According to court documents, Piper met with Tungland two days before the start of a jury trial for a Allison Ann Mastin, 37, of Blue Earth.
Tungland testified at the two-day trial in which Mastin was convicted of perjury, but found innocent of aiding an offender — obstructing an investigation.
Court papers say that Tungland recorded the meeting with Piper and gave the audio recording to Mastin’s attorney at the end of the trial when jurors began deliberations.
Attorney Gary Gittus also has accused Piper of “prosecutorial misconduct” and is seeking a new trial for Mastin. A hearing has been scheduled on March 9 before Judge Troy Timmerman.
Neither Gittus nor Ritts have indicated whether they will file a complaint against Piper with the Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board which could result in disciplinary action.
Last April, Tungland pleaded guilty to felony third-degree assault in the October 2017 beating of a former Blue Earth Area football teammate.
Under an Alford plea, Tungland maintained he was innocent but admitted there may be sufficient evidence with which the prosecution could likely convict him.
Ritts says his client’s rights were violated when he wasn’t allowed to explain his Alford plea or enter it was evidence at the trial.“My client had the right to remain silent and I may have advised him to do so, depending on the circumstance,” he says. “I certainly would not have let him talk to Mr. Piper.”