Oregon's new U.S. Attorney: probably not Josh Marquis

Carla Axtman

One of President-elect Obama's privileges as the incoming Chief Executive is the appointment of U.S. Attorneys. Oregon's current U.S. Attorney is Karen Immergut, appointed by Bush and was Gordon Smith's personal selection for a federal judgeship. Immergut was subsequently rebuffed for the judicial appointment after it was disclosed that she'd interrogated Monica Lewinsky, via Kenneth Starr.

Obama is highly unlikely to continue to retain her services. Thus there's a line of Democratic attorneys in the wings for the job.

Clatsop County District Attorney Josh Marquis has expressed at least some interest in the position, but according to Wally Edge at Politickeror, is too out of step with Obama on the death penalty.

As it happens, Marquis has butted heads with at least one of Obama's close circle on the issue: Joe Biden.

In front of the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2000, Biden challenged Marquis on whether indigent death penalty defendants were all receiving adequate counsel. Biden looks to take Marquis to school on the topic, at least from what I've managed to view so far from that hearing (the total is four hours). Here's a clip:

Marquis may have also ruffled the feathers of another of Obama's advisors, Charles Ogletree. Ogletree spoke at an Oregon death penalty conference in 2002, which Marquis attended. Marquis later complained about the conference, and the scuttle is that Ogletree was annoyed.

Two strikes and yer out, Josh?

Comments

  • KR (unverified)
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    The U.S. Attorney is chosen by the senior senator of the President's party, though they have to consult with the other senator. Smith chose Mosman and Immergut, but had to get Wyden's buy-in. It's very doubtful that Biden will get involved in these matters on any level.

    Wyden is moderate-conservative on crime issues, but definitely not in Marquis territory. Don't know about Merkley.

  • Susan (unverified)
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    Before making too big a deal about the death penalty (which the majority of Oregon Democrats support) remember a couple things:

    1) President-elect Obama's position on the death penalty is the same as Marquis'...that it should exist and be reserved for the worst of the worst.

    2) The US Attorney, unlike a State DA, doesn't make the decision to seek a death sentence. The procedure is that a recommendation goes to Main Justice and the Attorney General decides.

    3) There hasn't been a federal death penalty case in Oregon in a very long time.

    4) Marquis' position on capital punishment is outspoken but nuanced. Check out the op-ed he wrote earlier this year condemning the Bush plan to seek possible death sentences for Guantanamo detainees.

    5) Biden's son sits on the Board of Directors of the National DA's group (when he's not in Iraq)

    6) Marquis was one of a very small number of DAS willing to endorse Merkley in the face of a campaign to smear Jeff with a supposedly soft on crime record.

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    KS, Immergut was not officially chosen by Smith, nor did she get Wyden's support. She was considered an early favorite, but wasn't recommended by Smith.

    Washington County judge Marco Hernandez is the nominee for Garr King's position.

    Politics could sink local judge's federal nomination Courts - The White House taps Circuit Judge Marco Hernandez from Washington County Thursday, July 24, 2008 HOLLY DANKS The Oregonian Staff

  • Eric (unverified)
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    Or you could cite Marquis' affiliation with another (perhaps closer) Obama advisor, University of Chicago Law Professor Cass Sunstein, author of "Is Capital Punishment Morally Required?"

  • Laurie Johnson (unverified)
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    I have known Josh Marquis for 43 years, and cannot think of a better candidate for U.S. Attorney General. His position on the death penalty is not the only issue Marquis should be judged by, but that position is the same as President-Elect Obama, that it should exist and be reserved for the worst of the worst.

    Marquis' record as an Oregon DA has been exemplary, his honesty and hard work for his county are above doubt, and his dedication to justice without question. I heartily support Josh Marquis for consideration as U.S. Attorney.

  • Squirell Lobbying PETA (unverified)
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    So Blueoregon is now going to quote Wally's Edge a rotating anonymous author who quotes not one but two anonymous sources trashing a fellow a Democrat. Blogging under a nom-de-guerre is one thing, but using it as source material for a blueoregon article is quite another.

    Unconfirmed Rumor is that Wally's Edge is Chip Shields. I normally would not mention a rumor from an anonymous source, but apparently there are no standards here anymore.

    Carla you disappoint me.

  • Larry Taylor (unverified)
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    President elect Obama has been a role model for selecting candidates based on qualifications and performance. This discussion is about the “old boy” system of back scratching, patronage, and awarding positions because candidates don’t “ruffle feathers”. Mr Obama has been fearless in appointing people with whom he doesn’t necessarily agree. I hope his vision and leadership seeps down into appointments at all levels of government. Our country needs highly qualified individuals who conduct themselves with integrity and honor rather than individuals selected because of their ability to be everyone’s friend. I personally know Josh Marquis and have watched him in his role as county District Attorney since I first moved to Clatsop County nine years ago. He has assembled a superb and loyal team in a county where compensation doesn’t come close to what his staff deserves or what they could make in the private sector. Josh Marquis’ performance in Clatsop is solid evidence that he would make an excellent U.S. Attorney. It would be great if blogs contained more facts and less “scuttle”. Gossip and innuendo are rarely a good source of information for vetting candidates. If we could stick to facts, we might see less mediocrity in government.

  • Larry Taylor (unverified)
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    President elect Obama has been a role model for selecting candidates based on qualifications and performance. This initial post is about the “old boy” system of back scratching, patronage, and awarding positions because candidates don’t “ruffle feathers”. Mr Obama has been fearless in appointing people with whom he doesn’t necessarily agree. I hope his vision and leadership seeps down into appointments at all levels of government. Our country needs highly qualified individuals who conduct themselves with integrity and honor rather than individuals selected because of their ability to be everyone’s friend. I personally know Josh Marquis and have watched him in his role as county District Attorney since I first moved to Clatsop County nine years ago. He has assembled a superb and loyal team in a county where compensation doesn’t come close to what his staff deserves or what they could make in the private sector. Josh Marquis’ performance in Clatsop is solid evidence that he would make an excellent U.S. Attorney. It would be great if blogs contained more facts and less “scuttle”. Gossip and innuendo are rarely a good source of information for vetting candidates. If we could stick to facts, we might see less mediocrity in government.

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    It would be great if blogs contained more facts and less “scuttle”. Gossip and innuendo are rarely a good source of information for vetting candidates. If we could stick to facts, we might see less mediocrity in government.

    Are you saying that Marquis didn't testify in front of Biden? Are you saying that he didn't attend the death penalty conference? Those are most certainly facts--and they are all a part of the mix on this discussion.

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    By Joe Biden's standards, that video clip is pretty tame. Biden is famous for engaging witnesses in this kind of repartee (I'm old enough to remember the Bork and Thomas hearings)without any indication that he holds a grudge because of it. If anything, he's inclined to respect people who speak up and are willing to argue with him.

    As other have pointed out above, the death penalty is really a nonissue as far as the U.S. attorney is concerned. What is more interesting to me is that Jeff Merkley, Kate Brown and John Kroger were all more than happy to have Marquis's endorsement this year to help bolster their law-and-order credentials as Democrats, but now Marquis is too much of a law-and-order guy to be U.S. Attorney?

  • LT (unverified)
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    Not that I have been terribly active on all this, but I do believe in the Mike Deaver idea that perception matters.

    My perception of Josh Marquis is:

    a) comes across as a smart aleck "agree with me or else" character. Wasn't he one of the "a tough on crime person supports every Mannix ballot measure and never asks how it will be paid for" types?

    b) isn't he the guy who got into a debate with his county because he thought he deserved extra pay?

    c)seems to me there are other DAs at least as qualified.

    JM has become a celebrity/public figure. With that comes scrutiny. If part of that scrutiny were to show that, for instance, he believes in the death penalty to the point that anyone disagreeing with him was "soft on crime", then he is not qualified for US Attorney.

  • KLT (unverified)
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    Actually Marquis was one of the leading advocates of Measure 57, the anti-Mannix measure that passed overwhelmingly and by the highest percentage in Clatsop County. He got in a fight with a bunch of right-wing Republicans on his county commission, the Chair of whom was recalled, and then the Commission restored the pay he'd been getting for 12 years. Marquis has a blog/website and anyone can read what he says and whether or not he calls people "soft on crime" if they disagree with him about the death penalty

    http://coastda.com

  • (Show?)
    What is BlueOregon? BlueOregon is a place for progressive Oregonians to gather 'round the water cooler and share news, commentary, and gossip.

    That's been up at the top of the left-hand sidebar for... years. I'm amazed that some still don't understand it. Especially given that Carla's post here is essentially a glorified question obviously intended as a conversation starter.

    Gossip and unconfirmed rumor have been used as conversation starters for millenia. So why are folks getting their knickers in a wad over it now? Particularly given that Carla didn't try to pass any unconfirmed rumors off as uncontrovertable fact.

    If I didn't know better I'd be tempted to think that some folk have an axe to grind viz Carla/Blue Oregon and any excuse, no matter how thin or absurd, will suffice to bring out the long knives.

  • Ed in Eugene (unverified)
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    Or more to the point since when is capital punishment a crunch issue for Oregon Democrats? This stuff is six, eight years old. Let's just call this what it is, an attempt to poison the well for a possible candidate for a federal job because a few people resent his stand on crime issues, even though he's been true blue for decades.

  • rw (unverified)
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    Kevin - "long knives" is, like Kershner's "jack boot" or "bootheel" references, awfully evocative of Nazi regime. Intended or accidental? Am curious.

  • backbeat (unverified)
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    What is more interesting to me is that Jeff Merkley, Kate Brown and John Kroger were all more than happy to have Marquis's endorsement this year to help bolster their law-and-order credentials as Democrats

    A mild matter, compared to the radical fiscal conservative-christian fundy unholy alliance. How's that working out for you?

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    Let's just call this what it is, an attempt to poison the well for a possible candidate for a federal job because a few people resent his stand on crime issues, even though he's been true blue for decades.

    Uhh...dude, seriously. Poison the well?

    Marquis was clearly having trouble clearing the way for the position before this post was ever written. Gimme a break.

    I don't think very many people (including Marquis) would consider himself "true blue", if by "blue" you mean progressive. He's a registered Dem and he's got a few good positions..but "true blue"? Naw.

  • LT (unverified)
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    http://www.opposingviews.com/counters/justice-shouldn-t-have-a-price-tag

    is the man speaking in his own words.

    He says if the death penalty is eliminated then there is an attack on life without parole.

    That is the sort of thing that alienates people like me. He doesn't want to talk about the price of his views on crime (where should the money come from, Josh?). If people oppose the death penalty because there is no reversing it if the person turns out to be innocent, or if someone believes seriously in "thou shall not kill", that person will also attack life sentences without parole because the great Josh says so?

    It is that attitude that alienates people. And even if he has voted straight Democratic his whole life, that "debate killer" attitude that he has the revealed truth does not make him "true blue" in my book.

    I'm a prosecutor's granddaughter, and I believe crime issues should be debated publicly without cheap shots. If that makes me "soft on crime" or some such rot, it doesn't make me a Marquis supporter!

  • John V. (unverified)
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    I watched the Biden clip. I'd say it shows guts on Marquis's behalf. Obama has said he wants people with strong personalities and strong opinions.

    To the poster who calls herself a "prosecutor's granddaughter," Marquis is absolutely right. Once the death penalty is no longer on the table, then the defense bar will go after their next "win": Getting rid of life without parole. Then we will be back where we were, with convicted murderers getting paroled and victimizing again. Maybe as a prosecutor's granddaughter your likelihood of getting victimized is slim. Good for you. For the poor, the working class, the people of color, being a victim is not just a statistic. Folks need to keep in mind why the public brought back the death penalty. But as other posters have noted, Marquis would bring more to the U.S. Attorney's Office than a support of the death penalty. Anybody who knew his father, former UO Professor Lucian Marquis, knows that Josh Marquis is not a convenient stereotype. He has shown a commitment to public service.

  • KR (unverified)
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    Pete Forsyth is confusing the district court judge selection with the US Attorney selection. Immergut was selected by Smith for US Attorney, though his role was somewhat less formal than when selecting a federal judge. Hernandez was Smith's selection for the judgeship being vacated by Judge King (though he's in purgatory after the election).

    KR is correct, but I'm not sure about the assertion about Wyden's buy-in. Probably had a veto in the matter, which he obviously didn't use.

    As for the central matter, Carla, it's a big-time stretch to say "Marquis was clearly having trouble clearing the way for the position before this post was ever written." The matter is left almost exclusively to the senior senator, Wyden, Merkley (who can block anyone Wden chooses, so Wyden would be wise to closely consult with the new senator), and Obama, and the process has not yet started. If form holds, Wyden will convene a selection committee for the US Attorney opening. Those serving will, of course, conveniently have access to the poison you and others have been pouring into the Marquis well.

  • Law-n-Order D (unverified)
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    It is not hyperbole or a "debate killer" to say that life without parole would be next on the defense attorney hit-list. WE have seen countries as diverse as Mexico (who now is working to refuse extradition to people who are facing true-life sentences in the US) to countries like Norway who went from capital punishment (execution of Quisling) to true life to less than life punishments.

  • (Show?)

    Its up to Wyden/Merkley to make the recommendation to Obama. But this is a political AND governmental decision. And with all political decisions come..wait for it...politics.

    To sit around here and pretend that a job like that doesn't have some sort of lobbying element in the background is absurd and naive.

    Or is it in Marquis best interest not to discuss his position on the DP prior to Wyden and Merkley reviewing the candidates? Is his position a "poison"?

    If this little post "poisons the well" so much, then perhaps Marquis should reconsider his positions on the death penalty? Unless you've got some evidence I've written something blatantly false here, there shouldn't be a problem.

  • Law-n-Order D (unverified)
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    In response to Kevin's post about Carla and the "conversation starter".

    The problem I have is that the source is Chip Shields (another blueoregon regular) and this seems to be a coordinated gossip smear campaign between he and Carla.

    Chip? You there...

  • (Show?)

    Purely accidental, Rebecca. In fact, "night of the long knives" apparently predates the Nazi by some centuries. But personally, the mental image it always evokes is of the ancient Syrian sect of Assassins with their long, curved scimitars.

    Regardless, the term is historically associated with revenge. Seems appropos to me given the gist of my comment upthread.

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    L&O--

    Any evidence whatsoever that Chip Shields is actively campaigning against Marquis? or that just a big surmise? (nevermind the silly idea that Chip is Wally Edge)

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    L&O:

    Along with Kari's point (frankly, I'd love to know exactly how you think Shields is involved here...) how is this a "smear"? Is there something inaccurate here? Is Marquis wanting to keep his opinions on the death penalty quiet?

  • Law-n-Order D (unverified)
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    Evidence? I thought this was a place to "gather round the water cooler and gossip?"

  • Law-n-Order D (unverified)
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    Carla evidence of smear:

    1) Your tone is snarky Examples: "two strikes yer out Josh" "[Biden] takes Marquis to school" "If this little post "poisons the well" so much, then perhaps Marquis should reconsider his positions on the death penalty?"

    It is clear you don't like Marquis because you don't like the dp. But you can be anti-dp without making it as personal as you appear to be doing.

    2) You base most of this on that Politicker article which is based on anonymous sources.

    Therefore, I think smear.

    AS for Chip, I probably should follow my own advice and let him speak for himself despite what I overheard.

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    Ohhh..so we're just gossiping about Shields.

    Thanks for clarifying.

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    Snarky tone? On a blog?

    Who'd have thunk it?

    LOL

  • Law-n-Order D (unverified)
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    Carla, I acknowledge my misstep. Will you?

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    Uhh...sure. I'm unclear as to what "misstep" you're talking about, tho.

  • LT (unverified)
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    John V, how many people are in "the defense bar"?

    You said "the defense bar will go after their next "win" "

    I think you identified what the source of the conflict is.

    Assume everyone who knows Marquis personally or has an opinion about his actions were put together inside a big convention center.

    There would still be 90-95% of the voting population outside that group.

    Is the debate only between the "defense bar", prosecutors, or others who are concerned about this for a living?

    Or is the debate about the larger population who might worry that unlimited money spent on law enforcement, criminal justice and prisons doesn't leave much left over for anything else (education, roads, etc). Don't forget, "Tough on crime no new taxes" was the slogan of a losing candidate for Gov.

    That is the point--is the general public part of this debate, or not? This is December, a month when people worry about getting through the holiday season, worry about end-of-year chores (rounding up tax information, closing the year on a business, etc), kids getting out of school for the Christmas break, and maybe this year also one or more members of the family subject to layoff.

    And yet, the argument seems to be between a certain DA and "the defense bar". That is jargon, like the legislator who constantly talks about an "all funds budget".

    Most people don't understand such terms if they are not directly involved in the areas mentioned, and tune out any argument on such topics.

    Or maybe that was the point--an insider's debate on a blog?

  • Lawn Order (unverified)
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    Mr. Marquis is a competent attorney in Clatsop County. He's done an acceptable job running a small law office. And thats something he should be proud of. What He's very good at is promoting himself and his positions.

    Naming him US attorney for Oregon would be like naming a modestly successful popular governor from a small state to run for VP of he United States.

  • Law-n-Order (unverified)
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    Please Note Law-n-Order is a different blogger than Lawn Order.

  • John V. (unverified)
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    The source of the conflict, LT, is a small clique of mostly Portland Democrats who haven't left the 20th Century. It's curious to watch them glom on to Obama's victory when he doesn't share their hopes of rewriting the glory days of the 60's. He understands the price that succeeding generations have paid because of certain political excesses from the 20th Century. He's steering the U.S. away from the mindset of "blue" or "red."

    Public safety is not stealing from education. (Check the salaries of school superintendents lately?) Public safety and education are related. Try being 12 years old and trying to concentrate on school when you've got a father who likes to beat your mother. If you don't feel safe, other concerns become a luxury.

    "Defense bar" is hardly insider jargon. Look how many TV shows are about lawyers.

  • Lawn Order (unverified)
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    Jon V: Then when you mean a small clique of Portland Democrat's who haven't left the 20th century, maybe you should say that instead of "defense bar".

    Regardless, slippery slope arguments are anti-intellectual straw men, used by people who have no cogent argument in opposition. So they argue against something not even being put forth.

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    Naming him US attorney for Oregon would be like naming a modestly successful popular governor from a small state to run for VP of he United States.

    Actually, Bill Clinton was elected President of the United States.

  • John V. (unverified)
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    Regardless, slippery slope arguments are anti-intellectual straw men, used by people who have no cogent argument in opposition. So they argue against something not even being put forth.

    No, they are used by people who are mindful of history and know that what has happened before can happen again.

    Kudos to you Jack Roberts. My first good laugh of the day.

  • Lawn Order (unverified)
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    Pretty good Jack, you betcha: But... Clinton was elected. Twice. Primaries and general. He wasn't simply named or appointed. And Arkansas isn't that little. Very similar to Oregon.

    John V: When in history did the defense bar, or even a small group of democrats from Portland, try to get rid of true life as a penalty for aggravated murder? Come up with that fact and I'll reconsider your slippery slope argument. But, simple solution, put it in our constitution. No Death Penalty. Can't repeal true life statute. I'm OK with that.

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    Naming him US attorney for Oregon would be like naming a modestly successful popular governor from a small state to run for VP of he United States.

    • Actually, Bill Clinton was elected President of the United States.

    I don't know what the population of Arkansas was when Clinton was elected, but it's almost 3 million now (51.34/sq mi). Alaska has 683,478 (1.03/sq mi). There's no comparison between the two as far as size goes - Arkansas has more than four times as many people as Alaska. It may not have as many people as California, Texas, or New York, but it doesn't rank at the bottom of the nation, either - it ranks 32nd as opposed to Alaska's rank of 47th.

  • Kitty O'Keefe (unverified)
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    As I understand President-elect Obama's stand on the death penalty, it is the same as DA Marquis', and the clip provided between Marquis and Biden does not change that fact. Further, that same opinion in regards to the imposition of the death penalty is shared by the majority of Oregon citizens. Finally, my understanding of Marquis' opinion in regard to the death penalty, is that it is reserved for only the most grevious offenders. These facts seem to be ignored in this post.

  • Atlanta Bills (unverified)
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    true blue", if by "blue" you mean progressive.

    Blue, red and black are the colors of choice for power, and corporate America. Green is progressive. Or is Big Blue true blue? They're certainly not progressive, but aren't as backward as Tyson or Wal-Mart. Just like the Dems, Reps and independents. Blue, red, green. The best I've seen on here is some distinctly aqua tones.

    And stop using snarky as a word. You want to call names to someone that's calling names so you made up a name that isn't a name. Get over this gen X,Y thing that any challenge is a vicious physical assault. Yeah, we know you've grown up with never being challenged, only suggestions for improvement when your behavior is unacceptable. Maybe your parents never told you that a lot of people in society don't accept that everything in the environment should be arranged to not cause you offense. I have a simple policy. I don't hire you. I'm not here to provide an environment for another useless body. If you work here you work for the company and no gen X/Y er has ever put more energy into a task than they consume performing it!

    It's time for us to wake up. Washington wants to turn corporate America into the kind of secure environments that grade schools have become. That's why you raise a generation with the idea that to be monitored is to be loved. When someone starts acting all hurt because you weren't perfectly PC, turn and savage them viciously! The liberty you save is your own! Your parents were warned when Reagan took office and they all had to acquire a baby and imprint stupid police state ideology into your flesh that they were creating a lot of future bad situations because freedom loving, independent individuals are not going to sit there and take it, regardless of how much they rob, stigmatize, marginalize, criminalize and marginalize anyone that doesn't worship every rat they squirt out.

    "Hope lies with the youth. They are our future" has become "our youth have destroyed all hope for the future". The meaning of a word is it's use snarklets, not how it sounds.

    And not a word of whining about this being off-topic (which it really isn't). When you discuss the US Attorney for Oregon for 3 days and not one person mentions their position on Medical Marijuana/Assisted Suicide and dealing with the non-alignment between Federal and State law, anything is fair game that is mentioned.

  • Close Emphasis attempt (unverified)
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  • Green (unverified)
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    "And not a word of whining about this being off-topic (which it really isn't). When you discuss the US Attorney for Oregon for 3 days and not one person mentions their position on Medical Marijuana/Assisted Suicide and dealing with the non-alignment between Federal and State law, anything is fair game that is mentioned"

    And what was Marquis' position on these issues?

    He wrote speeches in the 70s for the DA who championed decriminalization, which was a big deal back then.

    He got on the bad list of the Bush Drug Czar for writing an op-ed denouncing the administration's obsession with marijuana in 2004.

    He's consistently supported assisted suicide (ask Barbara Coombs Lee)

    He editorialized against capital punishment for detainees in 2008 (which means a lot more coming from someone who supports capital punishment.)

  • LT (unverified)
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    "Public safety is not stealing from education. (Check the salaries of school superintendents lately?) Public safety and education are related. "

    John V, I hope you will be actively lobbying legislators to rein in school administrator pay if that is your view.

    There are lots of us who live nowhere near Portland who are tired of the budget debates which ignore tradeoffs.

  • fbear (unverified)
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    Josh Marquis is the DA of a very small county--as of the 2000 census the population of Clatsop County was a little over 35,000. Compare that to Multnomah County, with a population of 660,000, or about 19 times larger.

  • Mark Lang (unverified)
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    I was a strong Obama supporter and volunteer. I worked with Josh as a Deputy District Attorney in Clatsop County until August 2007. I did that position for over nine years. It is my belief that Josh Marquis is the best qualified person for Oregon US Attorney Position.

    I have never seen anyone as dedicated to the law and the spirit of justice as Josh. Josh deeply cares for the citizens of the State of Oregon, his staff, the courts and the State Bar of Oregon. Josh may be viewed by some to be controversial; however, there is no one who can challenge his ethics or his devotion to the ideal of equal treatment under the law. Josh is supportive of Capital Punishment, but he does not take that responsibility lightly. I am not a strong supporter of Capital Punishment; however, I never felt any moral dilemmas working with Josh because he was very thoughtful on this issue.

    Josh inspired me in my work as a prosecutor. His ethics are impeccable. He treats everyone fairly and with respect. Josh was very devoted and loyal to his staff. He taught me to make sure that the victims and the citizens were treated with kindness, dignity and respect. He never pushed me or any other prosecutor in his office to do anything unethical or illegal. Josh taught me that justice should mean something and was not just a word. Josh is not intimidated by status and believes that rich and powerful people or entities should be held to the same legal standards as the ordinary people. Josh always was respectful and listened to me when we disagreed. Josh always sought out contrary opinions to challenge his own beliefs. This same practice is what made me support Mr. Obama for President. I hope that Josh gets the position.

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    Green:

    We could also talk about Marquis' hardcore and unyielding position on Measure 11. You seem to have left that off your list.

  • Eddie G (unverified)
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    Marquis indeed comes from a small (in population) county on the north coast of Oregon. That county is Clatsop, which has been a solid member of the "C" that makes up Oregon's Democratic landscape for so many years. The county seat is Astoria, a complex society of fishermen, loggers, and sophisticated, liberal, arts community. Anyone who has dealt with small-pop politics, particularly in positions that require tough decisions, knows how difficult it can be to maintain good, broad-based relationships in such communities. Also how difficult it can be to build and retain a highly professional staff. Marquis does both.

    Marquis understands the importance of networking, both to share his own and to learn from the experiences of others. He has not stopped learning and growing, and has reached leadership positions in statewide and national organizations dedicated to victims rights, animal rights, and prosecutorial ethics. The biggest complaint about him, among those who know him even the smallest bit, is that he's a Boy Scout: he doesn't do favors for friends or for political gain and he doesn't drink with the boys (or the girls).

    He has worked all his life to promote Democratic causes and candidates, not always an easy task among prosecutors who have not been so well treated by Oregon's Democrats. Two years ago he was the first official to speak out publicly in opposition to an LNG facility on the lower Columbia River, and has only been joined in that position recently, after approvals were given by local, state and federal agencies.

    President-elect Obama holds almost exactly the same opinions about the larger issues of law and justice as Josh Marquis. At the core of their beliefs is the strong opinion that a strong and just society begins with personal responsibility, with the emphasis on "responsibility" -- that everyone has choices and must be held accountable to them.

    Some complain that Marquis seeks media attention. What person who works to change public policy doesn't? And how could you change public policy without the media? Given the wide range of organizations that look to Marquis for reasoned, thoughtful opinion, either for background on an article, a juicy quote or a skillful speech -- from Beijing to Zagreb, from Portland to DC to New York -- he must be making good relationships there too.

    Out here on the Coast, Marquis obtained the biggest fine ever against a major fish processor who was cheating fishermen. My understanding is that he could have doled that money out to local charities of his choice. Instead, he gave it all to the Oregon Community Foundation, no strings, to start the Clatsop County Fund, managed entirely by OCF without any input from Marquis, which can be leveraged with much of the rest of OCF's dollars and provide grants to the community for years to come.

    I'm sure Senators Wyden and Merkley will have a few good candidates from which to choose the next US Attorney. But it seems to me that Marquis' high standards of professionalism and ethics; his deep respect for the people and places of Oregon; his years of service for the Democratic Party locally, statewide and nationally -- all that would be a terrific complement to John Kroger's statewide vision, serve us all well, and maybe even help to make Oregon a national standard of law and justice.

    But that's just my opinion.

  • Zarathustra (unverified)
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    Thanx, Green. That's news I can use.

  • Squirel (unverified)
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    I enjoyed reading the link that Axtman posted about Measure 11 and a so-called hardcore and unyielding position. Read the link, it is the most pro-Marquis thing on this web and makes one think twice about having voted no on Measure 11.

  • Zarathustra (unverified)
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    I can see how you can be "hard core" about something that's black and white, but I can't get my head around being hard core about a fuzzy catch phrase like "Truth in Sentencing". For my money, any attempts to discredit have brought him attention as a good candidate.

  • Tom Carter (unverified)
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    Carla, I'm not sure Biden is really a member of Obama's "close circle." He wouldn't be the first VP to be less than influential with the President.

    It probably would have been the same way with Palin if McCain had been elected. Frankly, given the people involved, I can't see Obama depending on Biden's advice much more than McCain would have depended on Palin's. As far as this appointment is concerned, Biden might be able to call in one of a limited number of markers, but I doubt that he'll be able to do it often.

    Maybe this appointment will be a early indicator of Biden's influence.

  • Susan Shirley (unverified)
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    I have known Josh Marquis for 17 years. He prosecuted my parents Rod & Lois Houser’s murderer, Randy Guzek. He is a reluctant supporter of the Death Penalty and believes it is the sentence to be reserved for only the most evil of people such as Guzek. He is fair and balanced in his actions. He should be very proud of his work for victim’s rights, for which he has worked tirelessly as one of our country’s best advocates. I know I am proud of him. Our state would be very fortunate if he were chosen for the US Attorney’s job Susan & David Shirley

  • Madam Hatter (unverified)
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    Have any of you read "The Smoking Gun" by Gerry Spence? Read it and tell me if you think Marquis is so wonderful.

  • Mad Hatter (unverified)
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    Since Marquis beat Spence in the homicide case the subject of the book back in 1985 one might expect Spence does not portray him in a positive light. What a surprise? A prosecutor disliked by a famous defense attorney who was defeated in court.

  • Squirel (unverified)
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    Gerry Spence? You mean that great progressive who defended Imelda Marcos? Yes, I am sure his side of the story is much more honorable than a public servant like Marquis's.

  • Madam Hatter (unverified)
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    Perhaps you should actually read the book since Marquis did not "beat Spence" as you claim. Sandy Jones was found not guilty and the Oregon Court of Appeals reversed her son's conviction.

    Anyway, Spence does way more than just portray Marquis in a less than positive light. This book is a blow-by-blow of this whole sordid affair, and Marquis' ruthless ambition and willingness to subvert justice and the rule of law to pursue it, is undeniable. If this book is so wrong, where's the libel case?

    Seriously, read the book.

  • Madam Hatter (unverified)
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    Yeah, Gerry Spence. That great progressive who defended Brandon Mayfield and Karen Silkwood.

  • Newportite (unverified)
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    Libel suit? We have this little thing called the First Amendment, despite the Bush's Administartion's efforts to limit it. In this country you can say a public official is dealing crack to first graders and there is nothing the official can do about it. Spence's book was an abysmal flop and Marquis wasn't involved in the mother's case. Anyone interested "in the rest of the story" can check out Marquis' website where two reviews of the book are posted.

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    In this country you can say a public official is dealing crack to first graders and there is nothing the official can do about it.

    Actually, if you make that statement knowing that it is false, or with "reckless disregard" for whether it is true or false, a public official can sue you for libel and win, even under the First Amendment, according to Times v. Sullivan.

  • Deborah Boone (unverified)
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    Carla, Don't you know, as a Merkley staffer, that DA Josh Marquis was one of the very first to endorse your boss, Jeff Merkley, for the US Senate seat? That he enjoys one of the best reputations among constituents that a DA could have? That he is probably more well-known nationally and internationally than he is known in his own state? I have many more statistics and facts about Marquis that I would be happy to share if you are interested. Maybe your readers would appreciate 'the rest of the story'.....DB

  • fbear (unverified)
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    My main problem with Josh Marquis is that he's not been "a reluctant supporter of the death penalty", he's been one of it's most rabid proponents, even penning op eds saying that we haven't been executing people enough, and that has cost lives.

    The fact is, the evidence supporting a deterrent effect for capital punishment is flimsy at best, and countered by the prosecutorial misconduct that seems to happen all to often in death penalty cases, and an issue that Marquis ignores.

  • Mad Hatter (unverified)
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    "My main problem with Josh Marquis is that he's not been "a reluctant supporter of the death penalty", he's been one of it's most rabid proponents, even penning op eds saying that we haven't been executing people enough, and that has cost lives"

    Before saying this why not read what Marquis has actually written about capital punishment. That "any sane prosecutor is ambivalent about it" and that it should be reserved for the worst of the worst. There is a big difference between outspoken (and widely quoted) and rabid. What cases has he pursued the death penalty in real life? One. Randy Guzek. Read Steve Duin's prize-winning series on Guzek at oregonlive.com

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    Deborah:

    I haven't been a Merkley staffer since May. I'm not particularly moved by Marquis' endorsement..although its nice that he didn't endorse Gordon Smith, if that's what you're driving at.

    There would appear to be several highly qualified individuals who are under consideration for the position of U.S. Attorney for Oregon. I submit that they may in fact be more well-suited for the job than Marquis--and I've yet to see any effective argument to the contrary.

    I also agree that Marquis is more well-known outside of Oregon, which seems weird. It's too bad that people here don't know him--and given his length of time in office and obvious ability to self-promote seems odd.

    Marquis appears to have some high profile disagreements with at least two Obama advisors and its reported by Wally Edge that Marquis is out-of-step with Obama on the issue. To what degree their disagreement exists is unclear..at least at the moment.

    I've not bagged on the man's qualifications (meaning his experience and schooling) for the job..and those who've rushed here in rabid defense of Marquis seem kinda over the top.

    It's not like I beat the shit out of him in the post. I simply noted Marquis' own videotaped words and position. I don't see how that's a problem--especially for people who support the guy and his positions.

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    Before saying this why not read what Marquis has actually written about capital punishment.

    I think that's entirely appropriate and a very good idea. Here are some of the pieces that Mr. Marquis has penned. Readers should decide for themselves if Marquis is a hardcore proponent of the death penalty.

    America Is Not A Rogue State

    Support (for the death penalty) Remains Strong in America

    Keep the debate honest

    Let's not squander our moral capital

    There are quite a few more--but the spam catcher is going to flag this comment as it is...

    These look like pretty unyielding and hardcore pieces to me..but I'm willing to consider that perhaps Mr. Marquis isn't as serious and hardcore a supporter/defender of the death penalty, and might consider serious reforms to the practice to eventually end it, or at least curb it severely.

    Perhaps he'll stop by here himself and offer his own comment on the matter.

  • Mahtma (unverified)
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    Thanks for the links Carla. They seem to show a much more nuanced view of capital punishment, particularly the last one about Guantanamo. The larger issue is why was it so pressing to roll out the objections to one of a number of qualified candidates for a job that hasn't even come open yet? Is the death penalty a big issue? Rep. Boone makes the point that Marquis was willing to do something 32 other DAs weren't willing to do...actively endorse the progressive running against the established incumbent. In any event doesn't this decision rest with Senator Wyden and Senator-elect Merkley?

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    Mahtma: The general consensus I get from reading Mr. Marquis' pieces is that he's pretty unyielding on the death penalty and not especially nuanced in general.

    Your assumption that its somehow "pressing" to post something about Marquis is interesting, if not kinda over-the-top. Of all the people whose names appear on the short lists I've seen, Marquis is the most outspoken and promoted. The fact that there's such an overblown response to this blog post emphasizes that for me.

    A total of four DAs endorsed Merkley....and that's great. Lots of attorneys supported and endorsed Jeff. But I don't see how that qualifies any of them for the Oregon U.S. Attorney. Perhaps you could explain why?

  • RabbitOSU (unverified)
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    Come on Carla, you say "I also agree that Marquis is more well-known outside of Oregon, which seems weird. It's too bad that people here don't know him," then find some 8-year old CSPAN video which presumably stands for the proposition that if someone invited to testify before the Senate and who disagrees with a senator is forever damned and doomed. Give Biden more credit. You've worked on campaigns and didn't you help put Jeff's web campaign together? Why do you seek out and identify people like "District Attorney...." as an endorser? Because the fact that a law 'n order prosecutor endorses a progressive candidate helps inoculate against swipes from the right. And the job of US Attorneys is essentially that of federal district attorney for Oregon, so those positions do matter.

  • Zarathustra (unverified)
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    The fact that there's such an overblown response to this blog post emphasizes that for me.

    I thought you were supposed to write provocative pieces for BO. Are you saying you meant it to be boring, and someone turned it into a hot topic? If you meant it to be provocative, then it's not overblown, right? Reminds me of Python's "...if I haven't paid, why are you arguing? I might be arguing in my spare time".

    Not a criticism, just seemed like an odd statement.

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    Uhh..okay Rabbit. So which part of what I've posted here mischaracterizes the positions of either Marquis or Biden? Please enlighten.

    Zarathusa....are you saying that there can't possibly be an over the top response to something I write?

  • JG (unverified)
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    Yeesh, why is everyone bagging on Carla for having an opinion? Since when does BO have to present an equal level of support for every potential candidate on a yet-to-be-made list of potential nominees? If you'd like to write an article criticizing the positions or qualifications of another spoken-about potential US Atty, then by all means write one. Who is stopping you?

    As to the substance...for some people, the death penalty is an important issue, for some people, it is not a huge deal. Regardless, it is an issue with which Josh Marquis is very much identified (whether you think that is a positive or negative).

    This is all speculation anyhow, so why can't Carla express her view that it might be a problem? You can disagree with her, but why does that somehow translate into a "how dare you post this" kind of tone? Sheesh.

  • Zarathustra (unverified)
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    Of, course, I just didn't think this qualified. JG puts it more eloquently.

  • Cyn (unverified)
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    Please, Please people. Don't jinx it for us. This is the only chance we've seen in years to get rid of Josh in Clatsop County once and for all. If he gets bumped up he will have supervision and he won't be able to screw all the little people like he does in his present position. Please write whomever and request Josh be appointed. We can't take him here any more.

  • CB (unverified)
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    Yes we are tired of liberal Democrats like Josh here in Clatsop County. He's against LNG and we have three very brave commissioners who stand up against him and for LNG!

  • Geri Hardie (unverified)
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    Deb Boone's comments make me ill. 6,666 people voted against Josh Marquis' pay raise, despite the fact that his very good friend, the editor of the Daily Astorian, ran daily articles for six months in favor of everything Marquis. Despite the fact that the Daily Astorian refused to run the paid ads for the other side that was against the forced stipend. The Daily Astorian ran ONE ad that was against Marquis' pay raise and refused to run any more. Marquis spent five times his supposed "enemy" Richard Lee on the campaign and still lost. He then used his position as the DA and had the Oregon Department of Justice investigate Lee not once, but twice. Each time they came up empty. Marquis' stipend was restored AFTER he finally did the performance measures that were asked of him for five budgetary years. His friend on the commission said, "Since Josh has provided the performance measures as part of his budget I recommend that his stipend be reinstated." Which it was, however, not until the new fiscal year started in July, 2008, a full four and a half months after Lee's recall.

    To imply that Marquis' ability to have Lee recalled frightened the other commissioners into giving Marquis his stipend back is not an endorsement of Marquis integrity. Marquis is the DA for a county of 36,000 people yet he has 6 ADAs! That's one ADA per 6,000, the lowest average in the state. EVERY other county has an average of 1:10,000-12,0000! Yet, this DA whines that he is in court every single day and his county undermines him and his staff by not supporting him "enough". His staff each only average 3-4 full blown court cases a YEAR! All the rest are settled. He is the laziest DA for a county that there ever was. He works HARD for ONE person, and that person is Josh Marquis.

    Yeah, that sure is a man with a lot of integrity, Mark Lang. Sure, Boone, that's someone that 6,666 people wanted to be sure got what he deserved.

  • Astorian (unverified)
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    The vote was a last ditch attempt to change the county charter or constitution to require the DA get a certain supplement. Many voters strongly supported the DA but didn't think it should be part of the charter - much like the state-wide effort to incorporate tobacco taxes into Oregon's constitution which also failed in the very same election. What was interesting is that 6590 voters thought it was so important to over-rule the county commission they were willing to change the county charter. The campaign run against the initiative - which fathered 2000 signatures in less than 48 hours - was financed almost entirely by right wing Richard Lee and his extended family. Lee was the county commissioner later recalled by a 2 to 1 vote. Immediately afterwords the County Commission decided suddenly that the DA should get his stipend back. The whole fiasco pitted the entrenched right wing Republicans on the County Commission against the Clatsop County Democratic Central Committee, that supported Marquis.

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