This year, Boise County’s top prosecutor was charged with felony DUI. Her successor took a job in another county.
Now, Boise County commissioners have contracted out the job, hiring a 29-year-old Boise attorney to run the prosecutor’s office.
Dan Blocksom was selected from a field of four candidates, including two who were recommended by the Boise County Republican Central Committee, county commission Chairman Alan Ward said.
“He was the best value, best background, most experience and things of that nature,” Ward said. “He was also under contract with the county at the time and was doing a good job for us.”
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The Republican Central Committee recommended attorneys Lauren McConnell and Aaron Tribble. Commissioners also interviewed Rudy Patrick, Ward said. None of the four candidates considered are residents of Boise County, he said.
The job of county prosecutor is usually an elected or appointed position, but county commissioners can hire one on a contract if they can’t find enough qualified, willing residents who are attorneys to fill the role.
Blocksom’s contract with the county is for $96,442.69, the equivalent of a $72,850 salary plus benefits, according to Clerk Mary Prisco. He plans to continue to operate his Boise law firm, which he says primarily provides legal counsel to county governments.
One of the skills listed on his resume is fluency in reading, writing and speaking Japanese. That’s no boast — Blocksom was born and raised in Kyoto, Japan. His mother is Japanese and his father is an American born to missionaries who were working in Japan after the Korean War.
Blocksom’s father, Peter Blocksom, runs the International University Academy in Kyoto. Peter’s ties to Idaho include a bachelor’s degree that he earned from the University of Idaho. Dan spent time in Idaho as a young adult.
“Once I graduated from high school in Kyoto, I spent the summer before my freshman year of college with my friends in New Plymouth,” Dan Blocksom said. He spent that summer working in local corn fields — alongside Ross Pittman, the former prosecutor he’s now replacing — and returned for vacations and other summer jobs.
He’s been married for five years and has one child.
Blocksom earned a degree in economics and public policy at Stanford before going on to law school there. He was a legal intern at the Ada County Prosecutor’s Office in 2010 and worked as a civil deputy prosecutor at the Canyon County Prosecutor’s Office. He was primary legislative advocate and associate general counsel for the Idaho Association of Counties from 2014 to 2016.
“He was a wonderful employee and knows county government well,” said Dan Chadwick, executive director of the Idaho Association of Counties. “We were sad to lose him when he left but are happy for him and are glad he is still in county government.”
Blocksom’s specialty is government law. That includes public records, contracts and law enforcement liability.
“The civil work of a prosecutor’s office is one that doesn’t get much attention, but its implications can have enormous liability — and therefore property tax — implications for county residents,” he said. “For people unfamiliar with what civil prosecutors do, I explain it as acting as the ‘general counsel’ for the county — we do a little bit of everything in order to minimize liability and ensure compliance with the law.”
Blocksom opened his own law firm in August 2016, and Pittman asked him to be the civil deputy prosecutor for Boise County. In his letter to commissioners, Blocksom said things could change, but he doesn’t plan to move to Boise County nor seek the position in the next election cycle.
“If you were to appoint me, my offer to the county would be to continue under the current contract that you already have with me, with no additional compensation or hours, and to reevaluate the contract terms on an annual basis as we had initially intended,” Blocksom said in the letter.
In April, then-Prosecutor Jolene Maloney was arrested on suspicion of drunk driving. Maloney had two prior convictions for DUI within the past 10 years, so she was charged with a felony. She left her job soon after. Her trial was recently canceled because she expects to reach a plea agreement.
Commissioners appointed Pittman, a 33-year-old deputy prosecutor in the office, to the top post. Pittman ran for the office as a Republican write-in in the May primary, handily defeating Maloney and Tribble.
Pittman ran unopposed in the November election and won — but left after being offered the same job in Payette County, where he grew up. That position opened up when Payette County Prosecutor Anne-Marie Kelso resigned to become director of human and legal resources at Treasure Valley Community College.