KYSYLYCZYN CASE TURNS ON ATTORNEY-CLIENT ISSUE - MAYOR FACES CONFLICT-OF-INTEREST CHARGES; FORMER CITY ATTORNEY'S TESTIMONY SOUGHT
Marisa Agha, Pioneer Press
January 4, 2003

The defense and the prosecution faced off Friday afternoon in the criminal case of Roseville Mayor John Kysylyczyn over what will prove a pivotal question in the case.

At issue is whether Roseville's former city attorney, Joel Jamnik, may testify about advice he gave Kysylyczyn before a City Council vote.

In September, Kysylyczyn, 30, was charged with criminal conflict of interest and misconduct by a public officer for voting in June to pay his own legal bills in an unrelated matter.

Judge Marybeth Dorn heard the arguments Friday and has until early May to issue her written decision on Jamnik's testimony, but a ruling should come before that, Dorn said. The judge set a trial date of April 21.

The mayor's lawyer asked the judge to dismiss the charges against Kysylyczyn.

During Friday's hearing, White Bear Lake City Prosecutor Doug Meslow contended the attorney-client privilege, which protects the confidentiality of discussions between a client and his attorney, does not apply between the mayor and Jamnik.

Jamnik and Kysylyczyn declined to answer investigators' questions about their discussions during the investigation, according to the criminal complaint.

Jamnik "was not the defendant's attorney, but the city attorney," Meslow told the judge Friday. "We're talking about a governmental attorney-client privilege that the defendant is using as a shield against criminal prosecution. We should be allowed to talk to Mr. Jamnik."

Meslow cited an appeals court ruling in the Whitewater case involving conversations between Hillary Rodham Clinton and White House attorneys during a criminal investigation as a precedent.

Richard Kyle, the mayor's defense attorney, argued that the conversation is "privileged" and that the mayor was not using the privilege "as a shield."

"If this thing gets opened up ... it's going to discourage people (from running for City Council)," Kyle said. "No one's going to talk to the city attorney anymore."

In explaining why the case should be dismissed, Kyle argued that the issue did not involve a contract with the city and that Kysylyczyn did not know that voting on the legal bill was outside of his legal authority.

Wearing a gray suit and checkered tie, the controversial mayor sat stone-faced during the proceeding at the Maplewood courthouse, seated next to his defense attorney. His wife, Teri, was in the audience, as was Anoka Mayor Bjorn Skogquist.

Vocal Kysylyczyn supporters and opponents also were on hand.

The mayor can choose whether he wants a jury trial. After Friday's hearing, Meslow's partner, Robb Olson, will take the reins in the case since Meslow is starting work as a state legislator.

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

2003 St. Paul Pioneer Press and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.
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