Local

DA, Defense Attorney Face Charges In Washington County Case

OPB | Sept. 27, 2012 8:45 p.m. | Updated: Sept. 28, 2012 8 a.m. | Portland

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A judge, a district attorney, and a defense attorney are facing charges in an unusual case involving the commitment of a mentally ill man in Washington County.

The Oregon State Bar has confirmed it is prosecuting Washington County DA Bob Hermann and defense attorney Robert Axford for their roles in the indefinite commitment of a man at the Oregon State Hospital.

Some have suggested a magistrate order to commit Donn Thomas Spinosa is unique in the judicial system, and outside the regular process of civil commitment.

Kateri Walsh is a spokeswoman for the State Bar. She says the next stage of the inquiry will be open to the public.

“It’s very similar to a criminal or civil trial. We would present the prosecution. The accused would present their defense through council. The three-person trial panel comes back with a  written opinion about whether misconduct has occurred.”

The bar prosecutes 50 to 70 such cases per year, but prosecutions of district attorneys are relatively rare.

A retired state judge, Jim Hargreaves, initiated the complaints with the bar.  He confirmed to OPB that he also filed a complaint about Judge Thomas Kohl with the commission that oversees judicial conduct in Oregon.

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