- Associated Press - Monday, December 12, 2016

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) - The former deputy director of the Billings Regional Public Defender’s Office, who left amid criticism of his management, is now working as a contract attorney for the office.

David Duke resigned in March after receiving a letter from Chief Public Defender William Hooks criticizing the way he ran the office and for his “extreme” lack of judgment in having a romantic relationship with a subordinate attorney, The Billings Gazette (bit.ly/2gRzsyc) reports.

The Gazette and KTVQ obtained information about Duke’s resignation through a public records request.

Duke, who was appointed regional deputy in 2008, declined to comment.

Hooks’ letter said Duke failed to correct problems in his managerial approach after repeated direction to do so. The criticism included not assigning cases in a timely manner and taking sides in workplace disputes.

Hooks also said Duke failed to discipline an attorney in the office for running a private practice on the side.

“Your actions, or lack thereof, have impeded the necessary level of representation to which our clients are entitled,” Hooks wrote on March 17.

It became a practice in Duke’s office to refer difficult clients to the Office of the Public Defender conflict office, which was against OPD protocol. Hooks told Duke to stop the practice. However, difficult clients continued to be assigned to the conflict office, Hooks said.

“In short, I have lost confidence in your ability to manage the Billings office and execute your duties as Regional Deputy,” Hooks wrote Duke.

The Gazette reports Duke now works as a contract attorney in the public defender’s conflict office.

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Information from: The Billings Gazette, https://www.billingsgazette.com


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