Washington County District Attorney Pete Orput Won’t Run For Reelection


Washington County District Attorney Pete Orput on Friday said he will not run for re-election when his term expires later this year.

Orput, 66, of Stillwater, has been a district attorney since 2011. He ran for office in 2014 and 2018.

“I had a great run. I had a really, really great run,” he said. “I am truly grateful to God for His generosity and kindness toward me. It’s bittersweet, but I think they’ve done it all for me. I’m too old. I think we need some young blood here who are willing to cross the mountain.”

Orput is diagnosed in 2020 with Parkinson’s disease, a nervous system disorder that affects movement.

“Serving the people of Washington County has been the highlight of my career,” Orput said. “I am incredibly proud of the important work we have done to significantly advance the cause of justice. Most importantly, we helped the victims of crime.”

Orput said on Friday that he was particularly proud of his work creating a veterans court, establishing the East Metro Anti-Trafficking Task Force and suing opioid manufacturers over their marketing and distribute their narcotics.

Orput leads allegations of opioid lawsuits in Minnesota. “I just want to see some accountability from those who created this epidemic of opioid overdose and deaths,” he said. “I know it all started when doctors were convinced by these drug manufacturers that opioids were not as addictive as they thought and would continue to write these (prescriptions) with impunity..”

Status is located get up to 296 million dollars in 18 years through settlement agreements with drug distributors McKesson, Cardinal Health and AmerisourceBergen, and drug manufacturer Johnson & Johnson.

Orput said he hopes the Washington County portion of the settlement will be used to address mental health and opioid issues in the county. “It can help us send social workers to call the police, so we can avoid turning these bad 911 calls into something worse,” he said.


In April, Orput made the news when activists demanded that he be removed from his position as special prosecutor in the shooting that killed Daunte Wright. Protesters spent the weekend outside his home in Stillwater, demanding that he charge former Brooklyn Center police officer Kim Potter with murder rather than second-degree manslaughter.

“It was really painful,” Orput said. “In many cases, they blocked my way. They’re out there on the loudspeaker – mocking me and calling my name, saying I can’t make the case, and they don’t have the evidence to do it. They asked me to charge them with murder. It’s not murder, of course. It let me down so much, it really did. ”

Eventually, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison stepped in and took control of the case.

Orput said he believes the recent increase in violent crime may be related to what happened after George Floyd died in Minneapolis after being pinned by police in 2020.

“In my view, things have really changed since the killing of George Floyd,” he said. “People have seen a group of people set fire to the police building, and I think it makes these people feel impulsive that they can go out and do anything without the police. close response. That led to an explosion of violent, frenzied crimes – shooting, armed carjacking, you can name it. I never thought I’d see a day where you couldn’t go to Kowalski without worrying about someone coming up and putting a gun to your face in broad daylight. That, to me, just goes to show that some of these people are reckless and do whatever they want with impunity. “

One of Orput’s most notable cases was the high-profile murder case of Byron Smith, who was convicted in 2014 for killing 17-year-old Nick Brady and his cousin, 18-year-old Haile Kifer after The two break into his house in an apparent burglary. Morrison County Attorney Brian Middendorf initially asked the Minnesota attorney general’s office for help and was denied; Orput was then asked to handle the case. “Someone had to do it, so I stepped up,” he said. “That took me quite a while. It’s been a long road. ”

The case ended last year when the US Supreme Court rejected Smith’s appeal. Smith is serving two life sentences.


Before being elected as a Washington County attorney in 2010, Orput worked as a prosecutor in the Hennepin County district attorney’s office, as general counsel for the Minnesota Department of Corrections, and with the Minnesota Attorney General’s office. He is also an assistant attorney in Mille Lacs, Carver, Washington and Dakota counties.

In 2016, he was appointed by Gov. Mark Dayton serves on the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines Committee where he serves until 2020. He is vice president of the National District Bar Association and a legal advisor to the Minnesota Sheriff’s Association.

Orput said he plans to volunteer in the chemical-dependent sector after he retires; He will celebrate 40 years of rehab on January 12, he said.

“People say, ‘Oh, Orput, you have so much speed, you’ll never get there in retirement,’ he said. “I’m like, ‘Oh no, I have other passions.’ I want to volunteer my time. I want to return. I feel so grateful for the opportunities and blessings I have had. I feel I have to give it back.”

Orput’s last day as district attorney will be December 31.

https://www.twincities.com/2022/01/07/washington-county-attorney-pete-orput-will-not-run-for-re-election/ Washington County District Attorney Pete Orput Won’t Run For Reelection

Sarah Ridley

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