BEDFORD COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ)– The Bedford County District Attorney’s Office is under scrutiny after a third mistrial in the past nine months by what court documents describe as a “repeated course of prosecutorial misconduct.”

Bedford County President Judge Travis Livengood wrote in a court opinion released Tuesday, Jan. 24 District Attorney Lesley Childers-Potts had negatively commented on a defendant’s constitutional right to silence during a jury trial in December 2022. Defendant Nathan Jackson, 42, was charged in January 2022 with endangering the welfare of children and a DUI.

According to Judge Livengood’s opinion, the DA called upon the arresting state trooper to give testimony. During questioning, Childers-Potts asked the trooper how Jackson was during his arrest. The trooper said Jackson was uncooperative and argumentative and wouldn’t listen to him. When Childers-Potts asked the trooper to elaborate on Jackson being uncooperative, the trooper said Jackson remained silent and stated “I plea the fifth.”

Judge Livengood said Jackson’s defense immediately objected to the DA’s questioning and requested a mistrial. The judge said he found Childers-Potts question to be an improper comment on the defendant’s constitutional right.

The judge further explained in his opinion two other cases ended in mistrials within the past nine months due to misconduct by the DA.

“The present case is the third mistrial granted due to prosecutorial misconduct by the District Attorney’s Office in a span of less than nine months, and is the second case dismissed on double jeopardy grounds,” Livengood said.

Childers-Potts was also ridiculed in court documents for her trial preparation. Judge Livengood claimed her preparation was “sorely lacking” and said she should have provided the trooper with greater guidance.

“All the District Attorney needed to do was simply inform the Trooper not to testify about Defendant’s silence nor his statements about ‘pleading the fifth’.”

During the summer of 2022, Judge Livengood wrote court opinions regarding two criminal cases that were dismissed. He also claimed the DA’s office intentionally caused a mistrial.