What's up with the Washington County DAs?

Carla Axtman

Are these just a couple of bad apples or is this a trend?

A few weeks ago, Willamette Week discovered that the Washington County District Attorney's office was twisting the intent of a domestic violence statute. After a car accident in July in which an airbag deployed and struck a juvenile passenger (who was strapped in and using a child seat as required by law), Assistant DA Jason Weiner used the statute to try to get a felony charge against the driver:

Weiner’s reasoning behind the charge: The 15-year-old brother witnessed the alleged assault on Alondra. But Secretary of State Kate Brown, who wrote the law 12 years ago when she was a state senator, says it was meant to punish domestic violence and she’s “horrified” it’s being used in this case by Washington County.

Interesting, given my own experience serving as a juror in Washington County, feeling along with the other jurors that the DA had brought a weak case and wasted taxpayer dollars.

And now the Oregon Bar Association has suspended former senior Washington County Deputy District Attorney Gregory W. Olson for misrepresenting information about a 2006 sex trial:

The suspension stems from a July 2006 trial when Olson was representing the state against a father who was accused of sexual contact with his minor child. During that trial the child’s grandmother testified on behalf of the father, who was later acquitted.

The child’s mother had custody, but six weeks after the verdict, she was arrested on drug charges and the child was taken away. DHS was looking to place the child with the grandmother, but agency officials say Olson told them that during the trial she had lied multiple times and was warned about her behavior by the judge.

The child was subsequently put into protective custody with the state.

After an appeal from the grandmother, an administrative judge found that the grandmother had not lied during the trial and was never warned by the judge while on the stand. In 2007, the child was remanded back to the mother’s care.

Oregon State Bar documents say that Olson was convinced that the father was guilty and, because the grandmother testified in support of him, Olson was worried that she would, or could, not protect the child from the parents.

Oregon District Attorneys Offices have historically been well-funded in this state, even while other areas of the budget went under the knife. Perhaps a thorough fiscal and management review is in order?

  • Lord Beaverbrook (unverified)

    Past responses to similar topics have considered:

  • The system is rotten to the core
  • Much is symptomatic of the fact that it's a "surrogate" system; the victim can't bring or not bring a complaint
  • Areas dominated by developers call the shots and get these kinds of prosecutors elected
  • What is "frivolous prosecution" to you is big bucks to DHS
  • Washington County shares few values with inner SE, which is the "Portland image" that outlaying areas leverage
  • Substance abuse statutes are used to grease the wheels of the prosecutor's case and are lifestyle litmus tests, shoring up prosecutions in areas that normally wouldn't stand without adding some victimless (read, state) crimes to the docket and not one of those points has been seriously considered. As that leaves nothing to say on the point, that's what I'll add. Which is probably quite good, seeing as how your first response to the guy ruining lives with reckless abandon is to threaten his head count. How Washington Co.