Prominent Attorney Admits to DUI and Hitting Construction Worker

James Patrick Carey
James Patrick Carey

PINE CITY, MN ( – A prominent Minnesota attorney admitted this week that he was drunk when he struck and injured a construction worker along Interstate 35 last year.

James Patrick Carey, 64, of Edina, Minnesota, agreed to plead guilty to a gross misdemeanor count of criminal vehicular operation resulting in bodily harm. He made the admission in a plea petition filed Tuesday, June 11, ahead of a scheduled court appearance on Wednesday.

Carey, the president and managing partner of the SiebenCarey law firm, was arrested in October after clipping the worker near Hinckley. He continued driving north without stopping and was eventually arrested by Carlton County authorities about 35 miles away.

The agreement between Carey and the Pine County Attorney’s Office stipulates that he will have a 364-day jail sentence stayed for supervised probation of up to four years. He also must complete 80 hours of community service in a field other than legal work and will spend 30 days a year with either an ignition interlock device or electronic home monitoring.

Carey, under the terms of the agreement, is also expected to pay a $900 fine, remain law-abiding, refrain from alcohol and non-prescribed drugs, complete a chemical dependency assessment, attend a Mothers Against Drunk Driving panel, submit to random testing, and write a letter of apology to the victim.

Sentencing was expected to be scheduled for Sept. 4 to give the victim an opportunity to attend. However, Judge Krista Martin notified attorneys on Wednesday that she would only accept the agreement if Carey undergoes a comprehensive assessment before sentencing.

Carey, according to a criminal complaint, claimed he was not aware he hit the worker, though he acknowledged leaving the scene. Authorities said he showed signs of impairment.

The complaint says the worker, Joseph Gregory Flanagan, 27, of Duluth, was wearing a high-visibility vest and had just finished removing cones from one of the northbound lanes. He was walking on a dirt shoulder toward his truck when he was clipped by the passing vehicle around 11:40 a.m. on Oct. 6.

A trooper who arrived on the scene found tire marks indicating a car had driven onto the shoulder before correcting back onto the road. The complaint says pieces of a side mirror were also found on the shoulder, with a part number identifying it as belonging to a 2016 GMC Acadia.

At least two witnesses told troopers they saw the collision. One motorist said the vehicle had been driving onto the shoulder to pass slower traffic in the construction zone, according to the complaint.

A Carlton County sheriff’s deputy found a matching Acadia with a missing passenger side mirror near Moose Lake a short time later. Officers noted that Carey, the driver, had an odor of alcohol and bloodshot, watery eyes.

The attorney allegedly stated he knew he had hit something in the construction zone but believed it was an orange sign. He denied knowingly hitting a person and indicated he would have stopped. Carey said he had not been sleeping for a few days due to a death in the family and had taken sleeping pills. He admitted having three glasses of wine the previous day.

Authorities wrote that he showed signs of impairment in field sobriety tests and agreed to a preliminary breath test but was not blowing properly. A manual capture resulted in a reading of 0.12, while a later attempt at a breath test resulted in a 0.143 blood-alcohol concentration. The legal limit for driving in Minnesota is 0.08.

Flanagan was transported to Essentia Health-Sandstone, where he was treated for injuries, including severe bruising and swelling on his arm where he had been hit.

Additional gross misdemeanor counts of criminal vehicular operation and failure to stop for a traffic collision, as well as a misdemeanor impaired driving charge, will be dismissed under the plea agreement.

Carey had been set to stand trial on June 24.

A Biwabik native, Carey is a fourth-generation attorney and the son of a longtime State District Court judge. He has been named to the Super Lawyers list since 1998 and was named Attorney of the Year by the Minnesota Lawyer publication in 2011.

SiebenCarey is one of the oldest and largest personal injury and wrongful death practices in the state, representing clients in car crashes, medical malpractice, nursing home negligence, and many other areas. The firm advertises extensively across the state and employs more than 60 people at offices in Minneapolis, Lakeville, and Duluth.

Tom Sieben, a South St. Paul criminal defense attorney and brother of Carey’s law partner, is representing him. Sieben did not immediately return a call from the TRF News on Wednesday.

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