- Exercise professional discretion when making decisions on criminal charges.
- Prosecute all violations of state criminal laws and county ordinances.
- Provide legal advice to the Board of Supervisors and county and township officers concerning county matters.
- Represent and defend the state, county and its officers in officially related cases.
- Present all juvenile delinquency and child in need of assistance cases and mental health commitment proceedings.
The Linn County attorney is a constitutionally elected official. On July 1, 2010, Assistant Linn County Attorney Jerry Vander Sanden was sworn in to serve as county attorney. This vacancy was created when Linn County Attorney Harold Denton retired June 30 after serving in office since 2002. Vander Sanden ran unopposed for the office in the November 2010 election and was sworn in to serve as county attorney in January 2011.
The county attorney is charged with the prosecution of criminal violations as defined by the Code of Iowa. The County Attorney's Office is comprised of 20 assistant Linn County attorneys and 15 support staff personnel and is divided into three divisions:
- There are 20 Assistant County Attorneys, 13 Support Staff, 2 Victim Witness Coordinators, 1 Investigator and 1 Office Manager in the Attorney's Office
- Give legal advice to or represent private groups or persons.
- File lawsuits for private persons or defend them against lawsuits, including actions for dissolution of marriage.
- Prepare wills, deeds or other legal documents for private individuals.
Linn County Attorney Accomplishments for FY2016
The top priority of the Linn County Attorney’s Office is to promote public safety by vigorously prosecuting those who commit crimes of violence and seeking substantial justice for all victims of crime.
An example of that dedicated commitment to the pursuit of justice was demonstrated in the effort to prosecute Travis Standlee who was charged in connection with the deaths of Raymond Ursino and Sharon Mead. Standlee was tried and convicted of Murder in the Second Degree in two separate trials.
The first case was conducted in Linn County where Standlee was tried and convicted in connection with the death of Raymond Ursino. The second case involving the death of Sharon Mead was moved on a change of venue to Scott County where Standlee was also convicted of Murder in the Second Degree. On November 17th, 2016, Standlee was sentenced to serve consecutive 50 year sentences for his convictions. Both cases were prosecuted by Assistant Linn County Attorneys Jordan Schier and Mike Harris who were assisted in their efforts by Victim-Witness Coordinator Chris Adcock.
Traffic safety is also a matter of important concern as the number of traffic deaths in Iowa rose to 403 in 2016 representing an increase of 27% over the previous year. Many of these deaths are a result of distracted and impaired driving. In 2016 the Linn County Attorney’s Office filed 885 OWI cases achieving a conviction rate of approximately 95%.
One tragic traffic death that resulted from impaired driving occurred when Lawson Chadwick caused the death of Stephen J. Cook, a Cedar Rapids employee and Palo volunteer fire fighter, by attempting to elude police while driving under the influence of methamphetamine and amphetamines. On July 26th, 2016, Chadwick was sentenced to serve up to 40 years in prison for his offenses. This case was prosecuted by former Assistant Linn County Attorney Nicholas Scott (now District Associate Court Judge) and Assistant Linn County Attorney Elena Wolford.
Addressing the problem of impaired driving, Linn County Attorney Jerry Vander Sanden, who also serves as Vice President of the Iowa County Attorney’s Association, gave a major presentation about the prosecution of vehicular homicide cases to Iowa prosecutors at their 2016 Fall Conference in Dubuque, Iowa.