Osborn leaving county attorney post

After four years as Webster County attorney, Ricki Osborn announced Friday that she will be stepping down May 31 to practice in another area of law.

Osborn, who has been with the Webster County attorney’s office for the past 15 years, will be taking over Tom Price’s law practice when he retires at the end of May after 50 years.

“I was given a great opportunity to take over his law firm,” Osborn said. “It’s already a well-established practice and it was the perfect opportunity for me.”

Osborn said she had considered going into private practice for awhile, and had originally intended to serve out the remainder of her four-year term, which expires in January 2015, before making a decision.

“But when this opportunity came up, I thought ‘when will this happen again?'” she said. “I love what I do and it was a hard decision for me, but I felt I couldn’t pass this up.”

In her new role as a private practice attorney, Osborn will be taking on a number of new responsibilities.

“I will be representing clients for the first time,” she said. “I’ve always represented the state, but this is the first time I’ll be having clients.”

Her new work will encompass family law, dissolutions and wills.

She’ll also continue work with criminal cases, but it won’t be her primary focus.

“If people want me to represent them, and I don’t have a conflict with their case, I will work with them,” she said. “But I won’t be working with sheriff’s department cases.”

Jim Stubbs, Osborn’s husband, is the Webster County sheriff.

Osborn made the decision to take over Price’s firm because of his work with clients.

“I respect him very much, and to me he has a lot of integrity,” Osborn said. “He works very well with his clients, and he’s been well-respected towards me.”

As for going from a prosecutor to a private practice attorney, Osborn said she believes her experience will help her.

“I’ve got a lot of courtroom experience, which I feel will help me in the area of family law,” she said. “As far as litigation is concerned, as a prosecutor I did work with plea bargains which will help in getting the best resolution for my clients.”

Though she’s looking forward to starting the next chapter in her professional career, Osborn admits she’ll miss working as the Webster County attorney.

“I started out here as an assistant and worked my way up to county attorney,” she said.

Osborn served as first assistant Webster County attorney from 2002 to 2009. She was the second woman to serve as county attorney, following Catherine Tinker, who was elected in 1982 and served until 1984, when she resigned to accept a position as an assistant district attorney in New York.

“I’m from Fort Dodge originally and when I graduated from law school I wanted to come back here. I’m proud to have come back here and that I was able to get this job,” Osborn said. “I’m also proud of helping people through the system.”

“I’ll miss prosecuting and trying cases,” she added, “and I’ll miss the attorneys and support staff that I work with here.”

Still, she is looking forward to working in a private practice.

“It’s a new start and a new beginning for me,” she said. “This firm is well-known for family law, and I’m excited to learn more.”

Osborn’s resignation will be formally accepted by the Webster County Board of Supervisors during its regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday.

During that meeting, the supervisors will discuss how and by whom the office will be filled.

Under Iowa law, vacancies may be filled either by appointment or through a special election. An appointment must be made no later than 40 days after the vacancy occurs – in this case by July 10.

That’s the process by which Osborn ascended to the office in 2009, when she replaced former County Attorney Tim Schott, who resigned to take a job in Maine.

Osborn was then elected to a full term in November 2010.

However, citizens may supersede an appointment of the supervisors by petitioning for a special election.

Any such petition must be signed by at least 1,840 eligible Webster County voters and be filed with the Webster County auditor within 14 days of an appointment by the supervisors.