Ricky Cobb II shooting: Moriarty explains hiring of legal team in Londregan case

Hennepin County Attorney Mary Moriarty was in the hot seat Tuesday after her office hired a Washington, D.C.-based law firm to lead the murder case against Minnesota State Trooper Ryan Londregan.

The Hennepin County Board has given Mary Moriarty and the County Attorney’s office the green light to hire outside counsel for special prosecutions, clearing the way for Moriarty to bring in a team of former federal prosecutors with a Washington, D.C. based law firm to take the lead in the murder triak for Minnesota State Trooper Ryan Londregan.

The Board voted 5-1 on Tuesday after Moriarty answered several questions about the move, and why it was necessary to seek out-of-state assistance.

"We have not made decisions for political reasons, ever," Moriarty told commissioners. "There are certainly people who disagree with our decisions. But we have never made a decision in the office for political reasons. And that is important because the people in Hennepin County deserve to believe that their criminal legal system is fair."

Moriarty explained to the Board that it is a resource issue forcing her to hire the attorneys from Steptoe LLP in the high-stakes case. She claims her office is currently down 10 lawyers in its adult prosecution unit that would otherwise handle the Londregan case.

"While it is not a unique case, factually, not at all, it is unique in some ways in the way it is being litigated," explained Moriarty. "And we would have to pull at least three of our senior attorneys from their regular work to be handling this case alone. We cannot afford that right now, because part of our responsibility, obviously, is to be able to prosecute violent crime. Right now, that is ongoing. So, we just do not have the resources right now, to be able to pull the experienced lawyers to be able to handle, what is a resource-intensive case."

"They can hire 100 D.C. lawyers, they can hire a thousand D.C. lawyers, the results are going to be the same," responded lead Londregan defense attorney Chris Madel. "I don't care, I don't care."

Adding to the intrigue, Madel sat in attendance during Moriarty’s appearance inside the Hennepin County Government Center Board Room.

"County Attorney Moriarty, you are elected in your own right and you have every right to prosecute as you see fit. I think this does not necessarily align with the policy that was provided," Hennepin County Commissioner Kevin Anderson told Moriarty before casting the lone dissenting vote.

The vote came the day after her office announced the hiring of four seasoned former federal prosecutors from Steptoe, and a day after a high-tension hearing brought dueling rallies supporting both sides in the case against Londregan.

Trooper Londregan is charged with murder, manslaughter and assault in connection to last summer’s deadly I-94 traffic stop involving Ricky Cobb II. Londregan’s legal team has argued his use of deadly force was justified, and the case against him should be dismissed.

Said Moriarty, "This was not a decision we made lightly. This is a decision we spent a lot of time looking at."

Moriarty did not talk about specific dollar amounts of any contract with Steptoe but framed the unusual move as a resource issue.

"I am not sorry for defending an innocent man," concluded Madel. "And I am going to do everything within the bounds of the ethics and the law, in order to defend an innocent man."

FOX 9 has requested a public copy of the Steptoe contract. Moriarty insists she can absorb it all within her current budget allocations without further burdening local taxpayers and hurting any other priorities within the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office.

Londregan’s next court date is set for May 15.