OREGON DISTRICT ATTORNEYS
YAMHILL COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY
WHY DID YOU BECOME A PROSECUTOR?
I was a deputy district attorney early in my career, and I loved it. I left and went into private practice to try something new. Although I loved my work, I reflected on my days as a prosecutor as my best days in my legal career. When some people approached me about running for District Attorney, I was excited about the opportunity to help people who have been victimized by crime. I’m also passionate about working with law enforcement to develop policies that support the community.
WHAT IS THE MOST REWARDING PART OF YOUR WORK?
It is so gratifying to work with victims. When a victim sits next to a prosecutor after a case has been completed, and they thank you for your efforts, it is wonderful to know they recognize that you’ve done everything you can to achieve justice for them and the community.
It’s also rewarding when a defendant comes back a few years later and thanks you for changing their lives. This has happened on numerous occasions over the years. Sometimes justice means sending someone to prison. For others, justice is treatment court or diversion. People often grow and learn through major mistakes, and I love being a part of someone living a productive life.
I spend a lot of time sharing with the community what we do and how we do it. The criminal justice system is a very complex structure. It’s so rewarding to see the community work to understand how they can be a part of a safe and viable community. I appreciate honest feedback and I welcome people who want to share differing opinions.
WHAT IS THE HARDEST PART OF YOUR WORK?
Since I’ve been DA, in every homicide case we’ve had, I’ve personally met with the families to tell them what will happen in the process. To meet people for the first time during one of the most painful times in their lives is very difficult. Providing them information, setting expectations and expressing compassion can be very emotional, but it’s always the right thing
When there has been a hard-fought case and those cases do not result, in the verdict we hoped for, it can be very difficult. While I greatly respect the jury decision, a not guilty is heartbreaking for a victim’s family.
WHAT DO YOU WANT PEOPLE TO KNOW ABOUT YOU AND THE WORK YOU DO?
Most people see our work as just prosecuting cases. We do so much more than that. What we do is so complex that people don’t often see the multiple dimensions of our work. We train law enforcement on the law and how to protect people’s rights. We work hard to create and maintain relationships with community partners who help us keep people out of the criminal justice system by helping them get the support they need. We work hard to try to make the system the best it can be and reduce the number of victims.
WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE THE COMMUNITY TO BETTER UNDERSTAND ABOUT THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM?
The primary goal of the criminal justice system is to achieve justice not just seek convictions. In many some cases, the right thing to do is nothing at all. In other cases, justice may be seeking a serious penalty or protecting the public from a dangerous person. Every case is different because every victim is different. Every defendant is different. Every situation is different and they have to be evaluated on their individual merits.
DO YOU HAVE VOLUNTEER ACTIVITIES IN WHICH YOU PARTICIPATE?
I am in a service club. I volunteer for my church. I’m involved in community committees and state -wide committees that focus on public safety. I regularly represent Oregon District Attorneys at events and on projects across the state.
DO YOU HAVE ANY INTERESTING HOBBIES, SKILLS OR TALENTS?
My wife and I love to travel. Travel is my stress reliever, even if we simply go away for the weekend in our RV. As time allows, I hope to add fly fishing to my travels!
WHAT WORK OF YOUR OFFICE MAKES YOU THE MOST PROUD?
I am proud of the work the people of my office do with crime victims. We have an obligation to give both good and bad news, and that can be very emotional for victims and our staff. The people in this office support the entire community every day with integrity and honor.
Because our office is a medium sized office, young lawyers often begin their career here. I take great pride in the mentoring we do here to turn young, relatively inexperienced lawyers into practiced, experienced litigators. While I don’t like to see good lawyers leave, it’s gratifying to know we’ve done well by them. I also am proud that so many lawyers and staff, decide to stay with for their entire careers.
Diversion Programs and/or Alternative Sentencing Programs and Community Engagement Programs.
Court Coordinated Services – This is a Mental Health Court for the community.
Measure 57 Program - This is a pre-plea assessment program to determine if individuals charged with repeat property crime can be safely managed in the community rather that enter the prison system. A Defendant Analysis Report (DAR) is created to determine a person’s risk level of reoffending. The probation option usually involves intense supervision and treatment for substance abuse and addiction.
District Attorney’s Community Accountability Program Diversion Program is for low-level, first-time offenders. We offer community service, restitution, and other services to help keep people out of the criminal justice system and without a criminal record. This is an example of a great public and private partnership.
We are in the process of launching a new mental help program where we will be identifying and evaluating people who get arrested or who are in jail for mental health issues, who would be better served by treatment rather than incarceration. These people get mental health assessments, and for those who qualify, we get them out of jail and into treatment options so they don’t spend any more time in than is absolutely necessary.
Diversion Programs – Conditional discharge on drug cases. Designed to avoid first felony conviction
Statutory DUI – This program is for first-time DUI offenders and we offer treatment and monitoring to help keep them safe on the roads.
Deferred Sentencing Agreement – This program is for first-time offenders who haven’t demonstrated a pattern of violence and who have a low likelihood of offending again. For example, first-time domestic abuse cases where the situation doesn’t seem to be chronic. These individuals are offered education and training to change behavior, and as appropriate, treatment. We monitor the participant’s progress and when successful, people graduate without a criminal record.