Open in App
  • U.S.
  • Election
  • Newsletter
  • KCAU 9 News

    Records show Palo Alto County didn’t have enough legal work for prosecutor

    By Iowa Capital DispatchClark Kauffman,

    23 days ago

    PALO ALTO COUNTY, Iowa ( Iowa Capital Dispatch ) — Newly disclosed records indicate the Palo Alto County Board of Supervisors forced out an assistant prosecutor on the grounds that the county didn’t have enough legal work to keep her busy, the Iowa Capital Dispatch reports .

    County records indicate that last December, then-Palo Alto County Attorney Peter Hart announced that he was leaving office in February, long before his term was completed. While faced with the prospect of appointing Hart’s successor, the board of supervisors opted to eliminate Amy Zenor from her position as the assistant county attorney.

    In a letter the board sent to Zenor in December, county supervisor Ron Graettinger, then the board chairman, informed Zenor the board had “concluded there is insufficient legal work to justify the employment of two full-time attorneys” and so it was eliminating her position.

    Board members told the Iowa Capital Dispatch last week that Zenor was let go only because board members felt the new county attorney should be able to hire his or her own assistant county attorney. The county initially denied the Capital Dispatch’s request for a copy of the December letter, but agreed to make it public this week.

    Iowa ethics board moving forward with investigation into Melissa Vine’s campaign

    Before leaving the county, Zenor negotiated a severance package with the board that awarded her two months of additional pay once she left her position, according to the board. The supervisors then selected Anne Quail to replace Hart as county attorney, and Sam Lyon was hired to serve as assistant county attorney.

    Quail and Lyon are business partners in the private law firm of Quail & Lyon PLC in Spencer. Neither of the two currently represent criminal defendants in Palo Alto County, with Lyon withdrawing from such cases after Quail was appointed county prosecutor.

    Lyon currently works part-time for the county at an annual salary of $77,000, according to County Auditor Carmen Moser. Quail, who is fulltime, is paid $100,998 annually, Moser said.

    In January 2020, while serving as the county attorney for Dickinson County, Zenor allegedly came to work with a cup containing some sort of beverage that was later analyzed by the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation and found to contain alcohol.

    Dickinson County employees later told investigators that the staff in the county prosecutor’s office had developed a code word, “Peaches,” to alert each other on days when Zenor’s behavior appeared to be erratic or concerning. The office staff also staged interventions, but Zenor allegedly claimed she did not drink other than the occasional glass of wine with dinner.

    Zenor’s law license was suspended in November 2022 after an incident at the Dickinson County Courthouse that resulted in her being charged with, and later convicted of, public intoxication. She resigned from office shortly after the charges were filed.

    Siouxland Stories: Firefighting tradition continues on through 4 generations

    The Iowa Supreme Court reinstated Zenor’s law license in 2023 over the objections of the court’s own Attorney Disciplinary Board. In July of that same year, Zenor was hired by Palo Alto County to serve as the assistant county attorney.

    Court records indicate Zenor has said she’s afflicted with Auto-Brewery Syndrome , an exceptionally rare medical condition that causes a person to become intoxicated without consuming any alcohol. People with ABS can become intoxicated when they ingest certain carbohydrates that ferment in their system along with intestinal yeast. According to some studies, fewer than 100 cases of ABS worldwide have been identified since 1952.

    Iowa Capital Dispatch is part of States Newsroom, a nonprofit news network supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Iowa Capital Dispatch maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Kathie Obradovich for questions: . Follow Iowa Capital Dispatch on Facebook and Twitter .

    This story was republished under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0.

    Copyright 2024 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

    For the latest news, weather, sports, and streaming video, head to SiouxlandProud | Sioux City, IA | News, Weather, and Sports.

    Expand All
    Comments / 0
    Add a Comment
    Most Popular newsMost Popular

    Comments / 0