Criminal Justice

Lawyer calls client an 'idiot and a terrible criminal' on Facebook

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An Iowa lawyer decided to remove a Facebook post calling a client an “idiot and a terrible criminal” after receiving an inquiry from the Associated Press.

Lawyer Chad Frese of Marshalltown told AP that his Facebook post recounted his reaction after a client accused him of being born into privilege. Other lawyers who were critical of the post were misinterpreting it, he said. He also noted that he had shared the post only with Facebook friends.

Frese didn’t give the client’s name, but the information he provided online would make it possible to identify the man through publicly available information, according to AP. The wire service obtained a screen shot of Frese’s Facebook post.

In the post, Frese told of a meeting to help prepare a client for trial on federal drug and gun charges. The client told Frese he would have a hard time connecting with blue-collar jurors because he hadn’t “had to work for anything in your life.”

Frese wrote that he was “flabbergasted” by the comment because anyone who knows him is aware of his modest background. Frese wrote that the man is an “idiot and a terrible criminal.”

“He needed to shut his mouth because he was the dumbest person in the conversation by 100 times,” Frese wrote. “You wonder why we need jails huh?”

Frese told AP that he told the client he was in jail because he was terrible at what he did, and they left the meeting on good terms. He didn’t immediately respond to a voicemail from the ABA Journal seeking comment.

It’s not the first time that Frese raised eyebrows in a Facebook post. Previously, he wrote about the arrest of a new suspect in the slaying of University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts, according to the Des Moines Register and Courthouse News Service. The new suspect was Cristhian Bahena Rivera, a man who later hired Frese and his wife to represent him.

But Frese didn’t yet represent Rivera when he criticized the media’s focus on a prior suspect, a hog farmer.

“We all knew who did it, right?” Frese wrote. “It was the hog farmer who had been interviewed a number of times, taken a polygraph and had his property searched. He had stalking convictions. The digital footprint put it all together.”

“But wait,” Frese wrote. “An illegal alien snatched her up and committed this heinous act? He admitted to it? He took the cops to the body? How can that be?

“They had the killer in custody. It wasn’t [the hog farmer]. We were all wrong,” Frese wrote.

Frese told the Des Moines Register in an interview that his Rivera post didn’t provide his own opinion of the case. Rather, it made the point that anyone accused of a crime deserves a full and fair defense.

“I wasn’t saying I thought he was the killer,” Frese said. “I was just parroting the media narrative.”

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