- Associated Press - Friday, April 8, 2016

DUBUQUE, Iowa (AP) - A Dubuque County judicial magistrate has resigned after facing a felony charge related to his work as a public defender in northeast Iowa.

The Telegraph Herald (https://bit.ly/1SjYuAw ) reports that Dubuque attorney Matthew Noel was charged with theft in Polk County District Court on March 31. Iowa Judicial Branch spokesman Steve Davis said Noel resigned as magistrate on the same day.

Noel is accused of billing the Iowa Office of the State Public Defender for work that was never performed. Court documents say he overbilled the state public defender’s officer by a little more than $2,000 from July 2009 to August 2013. Sand said that while Noel worked as a public defender in Dubuque and Clinton counties, he billed for meetings that he didn’t attend with clients, other attorneys and Iowa Department of Human Services employees.

Noel filed a lawsuit in Iowa District Court of Dubuque County in June 2014 against the Iowa public defender’s office for not paying nearly $14,000 in legal fees owed on 25 cases. An Iowa District Court judge dismissed the case in the fall of 2014 after state officials said the payments were suspended while the agency investigated him over billing practices.

Noel was appointed to serve as a judicial magistrate in Dubuque County in May 2013. A commission appoints magistrates - who have jurisdiction over simple misdemeanor cases, municipal infractions and small claims courts - to four-year terms.

Noel faces a sentence of a $7,500 fine and up to five years in prison if convicted. Sand said he could also face disciplinary review by the Iowa Supreme Court Attorney Disciplinary Board, which could recommend whether Noel be reprimanded, suspended or have his license revoked.

Attorney Disciplinary Board Administrator Tara Van Brederode declined to comment on whether the board has received a complaint about Noel or is pursing disciplinary action, saying that all board proceedings are confidential.

Noel didn’t return the newspaper’s call seeking comment.


Information from: Telegraph Herald, https://www.thonline.com

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