Marisa Agha, Pioneer Press
November 14, 2002

A Ramsey County judge Wednesday cautioned the prosecution and the defense in the criminal case against Roseville Mayor John Kysylyczyn about statements to the news media as the high-profile case gets under way.

Kysylyczyn was in court for the first time on charges of criminal conflict of interest and misconduct by a public official for voting to pay his own legal bills in June. The mayor sat in the front row with wife Teri at his side. He chatted with Mounds View Mayor Rich Sonterre, who greeted Kysylyczyn by grabbing his shoulders in a show of support.

The mingling among audience members beforehand lasted longer than the brief court appearance, at which defense attorney Richard Kyle waived the mayor's right to hear the charges. Maplewood Mayor Bob Cardinal also appeared, as did Roseville Council Member Tom Kough, who said he just wanted to see "what was happening with the mayor."

During the short court session, Judge Rosanne Nathanson told both attorneys during the mayor's first appearance at the Maplewood courthouse "to be extremely cautious, particularly with remarks that reflect on the evidence."

The warning came after Kysylyczyn's attorney told the judge he was concerned about statements made by White Bear Lake City Prosecutor Doug Meslow that appeared in a St. Paul Pioneer Press story on Tuesday. In the article, Meslow said the testimony of Roseville's former city attorney, Joel Jamnik, would be pivotal in the case.

"It's important that the prosecution not say anything to the press that could prejudice the case," Kyle said. He later declined to elaborate.

When asked whether she believed Meslow had said anything prejudicial so far, Nathanson said no but that she thought it was important to address Kyle's concern when both attorneys were present.

Meslow said he will heed the judge's words "as strong and friendly advice."

"It wasn't my intention to prejudice anything," Meslow told Kyle and Nathanson.

In a later interview, Kyle declined to discuss the case in detail.

"I don't want any comments about specific evidence in the case," Kyle said. "I think it's important the case be tried in the courtroom, not in the press."

For such a routine proceeding -- the reading of charges -- the case attracted more than the usual number of onlookers. A cluster of Roseville citizens turned out, including members of the Roseville Citizens Council for Fair and Open Government, a group calling for Kysylyczyn's resignation. Stalwart Kysylyczyn supporters also were on hand.

The judge set the next court date for 1 p.m. Dec. 18, also at the Maplewood courthouse. It's more likely, however, that the hearing will be closer to 3 p.m. Kyle said he plans to ask for the case's dismissal then, while Meslow plans to ask a judge to decide whether the attorney-client privilege applies to Jamnik in the case. At issue is how Jamnik advised the mayor about voting on the payment of his legal bills.

Marisa Agha, who covers north suburban Ramsey County, can be reached at or (651) 228-2109.

2002 St. Paul Pioneer Press and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.