Minot, N.D. — Detective Troy Hanson, of the Fargo Police Department, and prosecutor Sheralynn Ternes, of the Cass County State’s Attorney’s Office, began a romantic relationship and nobody thought that was a big deal until we in the news media got a hold of the story.
That, in and of itself, is a problem.
To be clear, the relationship itself isn’t necessarily a problem, which is the finding of a review of this matter launched by Fargo Police Chief David Zibolski , but the fact that the Fargo Police Department and the Cass County State’s Attorney did little to protect criminal investigations from the conflicts of interest this relationship created is a really big deal.
State’s Attorney Birch Burdick has claimed, to myself and other reporters, that arrangements were made to keep Hanson and Ternes from working on the same cases together, but it’s not clear what those arrangements were. Burdick has said he learned of the relationship in December (it had been going on prior to that) yet months later Ternes was still prosecuting cases Hanson had been involved with as an investigator .
Some criminal defendants weren’t aware of the relationship between the detective investigating them, and the attorney prosecuting them, until our news reports disclosed it publicly.
That’s a travesty.