Even I have been reluctant to criticize other prosecutors, since there are often other issues of which observers are ignorant.
But the malfeasance and dishonesty of the new District Attorney in Portland, Mike Schmidt, demands comment. The producers at KOIN said there was too much fear about speaking out, and that nobody else was willing to go on air and say what I did on the record.
Schmidt worked less than five years as a junior prosecutor in Portland before taking a series of jobs in the state bureaucracy. He was elected by a wide margin in May, with only a 47% voter turnout, and was scheduled to take office in January. Schmidt's predecessor, Rod Underhill, had endorsed Schmidt's opponent and abandoned his post early, likely so that he wouldn't be associated with Schmidt's positions.
Schmidt had converted to George Soros-like dogma which calls for DAs not to prosecute many crimes. He has already announced a long list of crimes, even felonies, that he won't prosecute. He's refused to file charges in over 90% of the arrests made of rioters in Portland over the last 3 months.
My quotes from KOIN's November 1 story ::
“If the prosecutor decides there will be no justice, there will be no justice”
Lars and I discuss the ends to which current and former officials are willing to go to incorrectly advise voters that hard drugs like heroin and meth will still actually be illegal.
Don't be misled about efforts to abolish truth in sentencing
John Foote and Joshua Marquis
October 22 2020
West Linn Tidings
The dominant voices in the Democratic Party seek to overturn all the pro-victim rights measures that voters in Oregon and Clackamas County overwhelmingly voted into our state constitution.
As Oregon becomes an increasingly one-party state, it becomes even more important that legislators are as independent as possible. As long time Democrats and long term elected District Attorneys in Oregon, we are very concerned that the extremes of the Democratic Party have out-shouted more moderate voices on criminal justice in Oregon.
The dominant voices in the Democratic Party seek to overturn all the pro-victim rights measures that voters in Oregon and Clackamas County overwhelmingly voted into our state constitution. But West Linn/Tualatin Democratic State Representative Rachel Prusak, in her first term in the legislature, voted at every opportunity to choose criminals over victims.
She voted to repeal truth-in-sentencing laws and voted to functionally abolish capital punishment with her votes on SB 1008 and SB 1013 in 2019. She voted to cripple any possibility of a "true life" sentence for the worst murderers and voted to gut adult treatment for the most violent crimes committed by older teenagers.
Prusak has chosen to attack her challenger, West Linn native Kelly Sloop, for daring to raise questions about Prusak's extreme soft-on-crime voting record. Yet she displays either ignorance at what those votes meant, or she willfully voted to go easier on criminals, in deference to the current lords of her party.
Prusak claims that one of the worst murderers in recent history, Max Train Killer Jeremy Christian, is in fact serving a "true life" sentence. That is simply false.
We have both defended, and prosecuted capital (death penalty) murder cases. Because of Prusak and others, the death penalty possibility was yanked away in the middle of the Christian case.
Clackamas County voters remember what may be Oregon's worst murderer, Dayton Leroy Rodgers.
After being repeatedly sentenced to death for torturing and murdering seven women, yet if some trial level judge rules one his many lawyers fumbled at some point, and orders a new trial, then both the death penalty and "true life" are off the table. It is conceivable this butcher might actually be eligible for release on parole if that happens. Thanks, Representative Prusak...
Victims and their families, meanwhile, are left asking for justice for the crimes committed against them. Rachel Prusak and others have denied them justice in some of their darkest hours.
One need only look at months of violent rioting, arson, assault, even murder in downtown Portland to see what it looks like when government looks like when it abdicates to the mob. And when politicians like Rachel Prusak abdicate to the criminals over crime victims and their families, we all lose.
John Foote has served as Clackamas County district attorney since 2000. Joshua Marquis was Clatsop County district attorney from 1994-2018.
Before I quit the American Bar Association out of total frustration, I will concede they gave me ONE paragraph to articulate the support many of us in Oregon had for split verdicts. Split verdicts prevent a single rogue juror, who may be prejudiced against a victim because they are gay, a person of color, or a woman, or Catholic, from issuing a just verdict.
Joshua Marquis, a former prosecutor and criminal defense attorney, was one of the most vocal supporters of split verdicts in Oregon. He notes that the split verdicts rule not only allows jurors to vote to convict but also to acquit. Despite Ramos, the law is still unsettled on that matter, he says.
I've written a scholarly piece about non-unanimous verdicts, which I'll post soon.
excerpt from :
ABA Journal, "Oregon and Louisiana grapple with past criminal convictions made with split verdicts," Matt Reynolds, October 1, 2020.
3 / WHAT NEXT?
Things to look for in the 2021 regular Oregon legislative session:
The coup de grace to the rest of Measure 11.
Measure 11 no longer requires a two-thirds legislative majority, and the legislature will never refer it back to voters, who would very likely re-affirm the measure for the third time. Voters who have had a family member or a friend murdered know that there are some very bad people in Oregon, and we're all better off if they're kept away from us. Those very bad people can be released after serving only eight years of a supposed "life sentence." Eight years for killing somebody for no good reason.
Even worse, if only for sheer numbers, rapists and child molesters could get sentences as low as probation only, no prison. Even those sentenced to prison will likely be released within two years by Parole Boards, accountable to nobody but the Governor who appoints them, and hearing only information about how well the person is doing in the hyper-structured environment of the Oregon prison system.
Racial inequities in sentencing will start to rise again as judges, many appointed by Kate Brown, will be sympathetic to young men who are vouched for by their wealthy parents, school leaders, and clergy. Exactly the way the same groups of people rallied to save Randy Guzek, who butchered Rod and Lois Houser in their home at 3 a.m. in the summer of 1987.
But this time, it's likely to be worse than it was when many of us were younger and fired up by these injustices.
We are at a dark intersection of political correctness and overwhelming white guilt about racism that somehow translates into hatred of all law enforcement and a call to repeal 30 years of true reform that brought justice and even equity to many crime victims who, far out of proportion to their number, are women, children, and people of color.
JOSHUA MARQUIS on
criminal justice, animal welfare, and the nature of the relationship between popular culture and the law.
See the Archives page for an index of all posts, including those prior to January 2019.