Renville County Board members take County Attorney David Torgelson to task

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David Torgelson

Detective Randy Kramer told the district attorney that he had received complaints from department heads in the district that the job was not getting done. The commissioner said the law firm is not completing work for the county on time.

And he said the prosecutor’s office doesn’t do any work on behalf of the district, such as drainage and other issues that district attorneys do in neighboring counties. Renville County is outsourcing legal work, he said.

Randy Kramer

“We’re friends and I’m not going to jerk you down, but you’re not doing your job, period. I expect a better time, ”said Commissioner Kramer after raising his concerns.

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“I hope you take to heart what Commissioner Kramer has said,” said Chairman of the Board, Commissioner Bob Fox, after asking if other Commissioners would like to comment.

Torgelson replied that he would take the criticism to heart.

“Also, I may be better able to provide information to the media, post information on the website and so on, in some of the larger cases,” he told commissioners.

Commissioner Greg Snow agreed with Kramer’s concerns.

Reached a day after the meeting, Torgelson said he had been hit “flat” by criticism and should have responded better at that point. He said the office had different priorities to deal with but would get the job done.

“Without condemning Commissioner Kramer, we feel that we are keeping up,” said Torgelson.

He added that the sheer number of cases kept the office very busy and that the workload would soon increase. There are a number of legal proceedings including a murder case that is currently ongoing as the pandemic moratorium on legal proceedings ends. “There is quite a backward trend from these so it will be very busy for a long time,” he said.

Torgelson agreed that his office is not performing some tasks, as Kramer explained. Drainage is such a big problem in the county that outside help is needed, he said.

“I feel like I’m working hard on the cases we are doing in our county,” Torgelson told the West Central Tribune.

Kramer began his criticism by being questioned by members of the public about the district attorney’s performance. After sleepless nights pondering it, he said it was his responsibility as a commissioner to speak publicly about his concerns.

“I want to be completely transparent and suggest that the public should know what you are doing because they are not doing it right now,” he said. “They all think you’re doing a good job and I feel different.”

On a bequest from the commissioners, the district attorney has provided monthly updates on the progress of a number of issues that they have asked for resolution. They range from recommending regular meetings with the Renville County Sheriff’s Office for criminal investigations to filing for legal action to rehabilitate the former Buffalo Lake ethanol plant and correct the property lines in Lake Allie County Park.

Torgelson reported on progress on the concerns during the commissioners’ meeting. He said there are meetings with the sheriff’s office going on. He reported that one person has been charged with criminal charges related to items from the former ethanol plant and that another person is likely to be charged. The survey work has now been completed and negotiations to resolve the park boundary problems have begun, he said.

The District Attorney’s annual report showed that the District Attorney’s criminal and civil actions have remained stable over the past five years. In the past year, the office was involved in 396 adult criminal cases and 103 youth cases, similar to previous years. It also remained active on behalf of the district offices in the areas of child benefit (44), vulnerable children (38), civil law obligations (13) and a number of other civil law cases.

He was interviewed on 49 cases brought to prosecutors by law enforcement agencies across the county in 2020 that prosecutors refused to prosecute. He told the West Central Tribune that the office and the various agencies usually agreed on the decisions and that this was not a point of sharpness. Authorities give the District Attorney’s Office the opportunity to make the final decision on whether there is enough evidence to bring a case.