OREGON DISTRICT ATTORNEYS
COOS COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY
WHY DID YOU BECOME A PROSECUTOR?
I have been associated with law enforcement in one way or another for most of my life. My father is a retired Oregon State Police Trooper. As I was growing up I was able to watch my Dad as he went about his work. I learned from him the importance of being honest in all aspects of your life. I also learned from him that those in law enforcement actually make sure that a suspect’ rights are always protected. I also learned that the only way to make sure justice is obtained in a case is to follow all the laws and rules. Dad would always say we are going to do the right thing every time regardless of the circumstances.
Even though Dad was a shining example of what a police officer should be, he expressed that he didn’t want his children to follow in his footsteps and become a police officers. While a teenager our family became close friends with the elected District Attorney. I was able to hear him talk about the cases he was working on and I went and watched a trial or two. I thought this would be a good career to think about. By being a prosecutor, I could be involved in the criminal justice system. I have to say Dad was not real excited when I told him I wanted to be a lawyer. Yet at the same time he was proud of my decision to become a prosecutor.
I have been a prosecutor since 1984 and I cannot imagine any other career I would want to be involved in.
WHAT IS THE MOST REWARDING PART OF YOUR WORK?
The most rewarding part of the job to me is the feelings I have when I know a case has been handled in such a way that justice has been brought to the victim and the family of the victim. For me to see a victim who was scared and concerned that no one would believe them and see the relief in their eyes when justice has been served is very rewarding.
WHAT IS THE HARDEST PART OF YOUR WORK?
For me the hardest part of the job are those cases where children have been abused either sexually or physically. Our children are most precious. Being abused by a family member who should love and protect that child to me is the ultimate insult. Bringing justice to these little ones is very difficult. Most of the time there is no forensic evidence to support the child’s version of events. Having to work with a child and having them relive the experience not only in trial preparation but also in a court hearing is hard. At the same time, when the offender is brought to justice is very rewarding.
WHAT DO YOU WANT PEOPLE TO KNOW ABOUT YOU AND THE WORK YOU DO?
My office takes seriously every case that is submitted to us for review. Most of the time there is sufficient evidence to file a criminal case. However, there are times where a case has insufficient evidence to prove that a crime was committed or that the suspect committed the crime in question. There also times where the police may have not followed the rules for gathering evidence or getting a statement from the suspect.
If a criminal case is filed, my office will do the best we can to make sure the offender is appropriately held accountable for the offender’s actions.
WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE THE COMMUNITY TO BETTER UNDERSTAND ABOUT THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM?
Get involved in the system. Talk with the local police and perhaps go for a ride-a-long and watch what the police do every day. Come to the courthouse and watch the court proceedings. Watch my office at work. Ask questions.
DO YOU HAVE VOLUNTEER ACTIVITIES IN WHICH YOU PARTICIPATE?
I have been a part of the Coos County District Attorney’s Office since 1990. In the past I served 10 years on the Coquille School Board (where I served two years as the chair for the Board). I also was District Chair for the local Boy Scouts district covering Coos County for one year.
I also teach at the community college and have done so since 2004 to the present. I have taught in the criminal justice program Constitutional Law, Criminal Law and Homicide Investigation.
I also teach legal principles in our local Reserve Officer Training Academy.
I am chairman of the advisory board of directors for the Kid’s Hope Center which is our local children advocacy center.
I volunteered for more than ten years to be on the Disciplinary Board of the Oregon State Bar. I served several years as the Regional Chair for the Board and about six months as the State Chair of the Board.
DO YOU HAVE ANY INTERESTING HOBBIES, SKILLS OR TALENTS?
My wife (Kori) and I were married in 1979. We are fortunate to be the parents of six children. Unfortunately, our oldest son died in a car crash when he was eighteen. This personal tragedy I think has helped me to empathize better with the families who have lost a loved one as the result of criminal conduct.
We currently have fourteen grandchildren which can keep us very busy.
I spend a lot of time riding my bicycle. I have participated the last three years in the Tour de Fronds in Powers, Oregon. I have participated the last two years in the Cycle Oregon Weekend rides they put on in July. My current goal is to participate in the week long Cycle Oregon ride in September of 2019.
OF THE WORK OF YOUR OFFICE, WHAT MAKES YOU THE MOST PROUD?
When I became the District attorney in 2008, I realized we needed to do more for the children who were the victims of crime. We had a Child Abuse Intervention Center, but that program was based on the prosecution model for such centers. As I handled more child abuse cases, it dawned on me that we needed to do more for these children. We worked very hard and switched to the medical model for such centers. The local hospital in Coos Bay became the parent agency for our center. The emphasis changed from a center that was only concerned with getting evidence to convict the offender to a center that puts the child first and making sure the child gets the needed medical and psychological help first. My observations are that not only are the children getting the help they need, the quality of the investigations in such cases has improved.
Diversion Programs and/or Alternative Sentencing Programs and Community Engagement Programs.
We currently offer a program for first time possession of a controlled substance cases where the defendant is placed on 18 months’ probation with drug treatment. If they successfully complete the program the case is dismissed, and the defendant has no criminal convictions.
We also have a deferred sentencing program for misdemeanor domestic violence cases. If the defendant takes and passes anger management type classes, we dismiss the misdemeanor case.
We also participate in the Coos County Mental Health Court where misdemeanor offenders with mental health issues are placed in a program where they can find housing and psychological help. If they successfully complete the program, the charges are dismissed.