Candidate’s ethics questioned

I have known Kyle Imler and David Mistachkin for many years. They were public defenders when I was prosecuting child victim sex crimes in the Grays Harbor Prosecuting Attorney’s Office and both appeared in the Aberdeen Municipal Court when I was the judge. Kyle was an extremely effective attorney while defending his clients. He was also honest and ethical in everything he did. You could always take Kyle at his word.

I cannot say the same for David Mistachkin. I consider Mr. Mistachkin one of the most unethical attorneys on the Harbor. But you don’t have to take my word for it. I will describe three incidents when Mr. Mistachkin misled judges in open court and/or tried to intimidate a 5-year-old who was going to testify against his client. Then you can decide if Mistachkin deserves your vote.

1. Mistachkin misled a Superior Court judge at a hearing when he tried to make the judge enter a proposed plea agreement that the state had previously withdrawn. Mistachkin’s client had raped his own daughter for years, finally resulting in the birth of a child. Even though the agreement contained language that stated it could be withdrawn at any time prior to being entered, Mistachkin still tried to have the judge reduce the charges. During his presentation to the judge, when he realized the judge was not buying his argument, in a last-ditch effort to convince the judge, Mistachkin told the judge he had personally discussed the agreement with the victim and she wanted it to be entered. This statement was not true. I was present, along with my Victim Witness Coordinator, during Mistachkin’s one and only interview of the child victim. At no time was any plea agreement discussed and I would never let a defense attorney discuss any plea agreement directly with a victim. I can’t imagine any prosecutor allowing this. I also never left any victims alone with any defense attorneys during interviews, ever.

2. On Feb. 12, 2008, Mistachkin misled another judge, this time in the Aberdeen Municipal Court when he asked the judge to reduce the bail amount I had previously set for his client (on Jan. 25, 2008), who was charged with a DUI and driving on a suspended license. Mistachkin told the judge I had imposed the bail because I was upset about a theft charge that had been filed by the city against his client. But that theft charge was filed on Jan. 28, three days after the hearing on Jan. 25. Since I am not clairvoyant, I had no knowledge of it and obviously it was not discussed at the Jan. 25 hearing. I did, however, state on the record the actual reasons for the bail which were: 1) four previous driving related alcohol offenses, 2) at least eight driving while suspended license convictions or bail forfeitures, and 3) multiple warrants for arrest having been issued for the defendant when he previously had not shown up for court. Mistachkin had also told the judge that his client had already served more jail time than “if he had pled guilty right out of the gate.” This statement was also untrue. His client had been in custody for 18 days, and the minimum mandatory sentence for his client, given his criminal history and breath content being over a .15, was 45 days in jail. If anyone would like to listen to these two hearings for themselves, the case number is C53831. The proceedings were recorded and copies can be obtained at the Aberdeen Municipal Court. I also have transcripts of the two hearings.

3. Mistachkin intimidated and scared a 5-year-old child victim concerning the child testifying against his client. His client was an adult male babysitter who was accused of molesting the boy. Mistachkin had arranged for an interview of the child before the child would testify in court. These kinds of interviews of very young children are very rare because of how scary they are for a child, and also the child has already been interviewed by a trained child abuse interviewer and a transcript and recording of the interview is given to the defense. I, therefore, did not understand Mistachkin’s reason for wanting to interview the child again. But I soon found out. I attended the interview, along with my victim witness coordinator, and it was observed by a defense expert, Dr. Brett Trowbridge, Ph.D Psychologist and lawyer, who would subsequently testify about the child’s competency in court. As most people know, little kids are oftentimes extremely scared of testifying in court about abuse they have experienced. Mistachkin tried to capitalize on this fear. Several minutes into the interview he asked the child: 1) if he knew he was going to have to tell what happened in court in front of many people, 2) if he thought the defendant was his friend, and 3) that if he told what happened in court, his friend would go to prison. I immediately stopped the interview. The child was obviously distraught. I believe it was unethical and there was no legitimate legal reason to ask those questions of a 5-year-old child victim. That was confirmed by Dr. Trowbridge when I asked him at the next court hearing whether, given his experience as a Ph.D and lawyer, he could think of any legitimate reason for Mistachkin to ask the young boy those questions. His simple answer was “No.” The child’s parents were furious over the treatment of their son by Mistachkin.

So, the question is, do you want an honest ethical lawyer as your District Court Judge?

Or do you want David Mistachkin? My vote is for Kyle Imler!

Paul Conroy

Aberdeen