Okla. Bar Association Calls For Discipline After Unlicensed Law Interns Represented State In Court

Wednesday, February 19th 2020, 7:57 pm
By: News On 6

The Oklahoma Bar Association calls for "professional discipline" against a Tulsa County Assistant District Attorney.

It claims under Tara Jack’s supervision, interns who were not licensed to practice made court appearances on behalf of the state in more than 150 misdemeanor cases from September 2017 to November 2018.

In a nine-page complaint, the Oklahoma Bar Association claims one TU Law School graduate even represented the state after she knew she failed her bar exam.

News On 6 confirmed two of the five former interns in question no longer work at the Tulsa County District Attorney's Office.

The office also said Jack, who was the director over the students in the criminal misdemeanor division, is now in the gang violence unit.

In court documents, Jack said her colleagues would hire and go through orientation with each intern and she "assumed that the interns knew what they could and couldn't do.”

Jack added, “I delegated my responsibilities and I should have never done that."

Both Jack and District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler vow to never let this happen again.

They said every licensed and unlicensed intern will now go over a handbook that outlines what they can and cannot do, as well as wear colored badges in the courthouse.

Next, this case will have a three-day public hearing with a three-person panel. That is set for 9:30 a.m. March 11 through 13 at the DoubleTree in downtown Tulsa.

The Oklahoma Bar Association said it does not comment on pending cases. It did confirm the panel will make a report, then the Supreme Court will decide whether anyone violated the Attorney Rules of Conduct and if discipline is appropriate.

The Oklahoma Bar Association said discipline could range from private reprimand to disbarment.

Kunzweiler declined an on-camera interview and issued this statement:

“The issue of the failure to sufficiently monitor interns was unacceptable. When it was brought to my attention, I immediately conducted a review to ascertain the failure and implement a course of correction. Ultimately, it is my responsibility to make sure that the people who work for this office are conducting themselves appropriately wherever they are assigned. This should never have happened.

I am confident that the measures we took have resolved the problem. The people who come to work for this office are hardworking and well-intentioned, but in the end it is my responsibility to make sure that they understand what they can or cannot do. I will continue to do my best to assure that public safety is a priority for the office, and that we uphold the standards that our justice system requires.”

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