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Attorney Claims Colleagues Resented Success, Wrongfully Accused Him

— February 12, 2020

Attorney’s license was suspended and he believes it’s because of his success.

Grand Forks, North Dakota attorney 78-year-old Henry Howe of Grand Forks, who had been previously charged with murder conspiracy, filed a federal lawsuit alleging the prosecutor and law enforcement agents relied on an “unreliable confidential informant” who was a “habitual liar.”  Howe claimed, “The defendants acted recklessly or with malice,” and they resented him.  The attorney is seeking $6 million in damages.

The matter began in 2014 when Howe was arrested and accused of conspiring to kill a witness in a drug case.  The move would allegedly benefit a client’s case.  The charge was later downgraded to “conspiracy to tamper with a witness,” according to court records.  And, it was eventually dropped a few months later.

Judge Barbara Whelan of Walsh County is one of the named defendants in Howe’s lawsuit.  She had been the prosecutor in the case.  Other defendants include a sheriff’s deputy and two special agents from the state’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation.  The lawsuit states, “The confidential informant, Steven Harold Anderson, was a career con man and felonious criminal of very broad scope.  Anderson had previously told authorities about two murder-for-hire plots that turned out to be a bogus scheme.”

Attorney Claims Colleagues Resented Success, Wrongfully Accused Him
Photo by Matthew Henry on Unsplash

Howe alleged further, “Anderson was dispatched to live with one of his drug clients, and he accompanied the client to meetings with Howe.  In one instance, Howe was asked what would happen if a particular prosecution witness did not show up for trial.  Howe responded that prosecutors wouldn’t have a case…The defendants worked with Anderson to maliciously surround and infest the benign (and very true) statement about not having a case.”

“Before his arrest,” the suit claimed, “Howe had clashed with Whelan.  The dustup stemmed from his revelation that the woman who accused one of his clients of sexual misconduct gave him a recorded interview in which she said the sex acts were consensual.”  Howe said, “Whelan went ballistic when he revealed the recording.”

Howe believed the sheriff’s deputy resented him because he had exposed her false testimony during a suppression hearing.  He alleges that the defendants “violated the Fourth Amendment by including falsehoods in his arrest warrant and engaging in malicious prosecution.”

The lawsuit states, “Since having been admitted to the North Dakota Bar almost forty-seven (47) years ago, plaintiff Henry H. Howe has been engaged in the private practice of law, with the majority of his work over the course of this lengthy period of time having been committed to the field of criminal defense – the representation of clients who have been charged with criminal offenses of various types.”  Howe said that the defendants resented him because of his success in the field.

The North Dakota Supreme Court suspended his law license after Howe was charged, indicating, “sufficient information exists that Howe poses a substantial threat of irreparable harm to the public because of the facts attested in the affidavit evidence a criminal conspiracy to obstruct justice by murdering a witness.”  If he had been convicted in the matter, Howe could have faced up to a life sentence in prison.


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