Lawyer exposes his situational ethics

As a parent, I certainly think morally he did the right thing. As an attorney, that isn’t what I would have advised him to do.” This quote by Donald Blom’s defense attorney Rodney Brodin has haunted me since he first uttered it.
Brodin’s admittance that his job conflicts with his morality came in response to Blom’s confession of kidnapping and killing 19-year-old Kathlyn “Katie” Poirier from a Moose Lake, Minn., convenience store May 26. The confession brought to an end three months of agonizing uncertainty as to the whereabouts of Poirier, a recent high school graduate with a promising future.
No matter how many times I ponder Brodin’s statement, I come up with the same conclusion: This is unconscionable. How could anybody — defense attorney or not — stick up for an admitted child killer in attempts to get him a lighter sentence? And then add the fact that this attorney is a father!
But Brodin obviously makes a distinction between defense attorney and father, as though the two roles he fills never overlap. So I assume he never thinks of his children while he works, doesn’t keep their pictures in his office and never receives a phone call from home during the workday to remind him of his other, oh-so-foreign life waiting for him to return from work.
I somehow doubt all that. It would take a very cold person to divide a life into completely separate halves, such as defense attorney and father. It naturally baffles me then that Brodin thinks that, from a father’s perspective, Blom’s confession was the right thing to do, but from an attorney’s perspective, he’s sorry not to have the chance to get this guy off the hook.
Don’t get me wrong — I know that everyone deserves the right to a fair trial with accurate representation by an attorney. But let’s get this straight: Blom was NOT a nice man. He’s got a rap sheet a mile long just littered with charges and convictions from previous escapades involving little girls.
Blom’s first conviction came in 1975 for aggravated assault on a 15-year-old West St. Paul girl. Later that same year he was convicted of kidnapping and raping a 14-year-old girl from the same city. In 1981, Blom was convicted of attempting to sexually assault a 13-year-old girl in Rosemount and then convicted of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old Burnsville girl a year later. His last conviction was in 1983 for kidnapping and sexually assaulting a 16-year-old Stillwater girl.
After mentally destroying all those innocent lives, Blom served just nine years in prison and 2 1/2 years in a state mental hospital. The system obviously failed Blom for not rehabilitating him, as it failed us, and as it failed Poirier. Blom’s confession to the kidnapping and murder of Poirier offers the first glimpse that this man might actually feel guilt for his heinous actions: “I felt bad for a long time,” Blom said. “Anybody would.”
He told police the truth, ready to accept any punishment he would subsequently receive for his honesty. Then Brodin has the audacity to say, “As an attorney, that isn’t what I would have advised him to do.” It has to make you wonder what exactly he would have advised him to do.
Are we to assume that, if given the chance, Brodin would have spent long hours at the office pouring over the case, finding loopholes in the prosecution’s presentation of the evidence, scouring the law books for any helpful tidbit of information that could lead to his client’s acquittal and release? Now there’s a pleasant thought.
I wonder how long the thrill of beating all odds in court lasts for such defense attorneys. If justice were really served, it would last just until one of Mr. Brodin’s children lost his life at the hands of the very killer their daddy worked so hard to free. Fortunately for Brodin’s children and all other potential victims, Blom won’t have another chance.
Under the plea agreement, Blom faces life in prison without parole on a state charge of first-degree murder. He also faces at least 15 years in prison on a federal charge of possessing firearms as a convicted felon. This last charge is being handled by another defense attorney, federal public defender Richard Holmstrom, who said, “I told Mr. Blom it’s a bad deal. The penalties are too severe. I don’t think he can do worse going to court. I can’t figure out what’s in Mr. Blom’s interest for going along with this deal.”
I can. How about remorse? How about willingness to accept punishment for his wrongdoing? It seems that the admitted child killer possesses more morality and soul than his two defense attorneys combined. Is the state of legal affairs so decrepit in this country that no self-respecting attorney can imagine anyone willing to accept punishment for evil deeds? Must every criminal get off as easy as he can, aided by one of these corrupt twisters of the law?
If I’m not mistaken, this country has a law against aiding and abetting a criminal, against accessory to a crime. If I were one of Katie Poirier’s parents, I would be suing every defender Blom has ever had, every person who twisted the laws in order to get this man a lighter sentence, anyone who ever vouched for his mental capabilities or rallied for his freedom. These people are as much at fault for Poirier’s death as is Donald Blom.

Emily Dalnodar’s column appears on alternate Thursdays. She welcomes comments to [email protected]