Oregon

Madras Wrongful Imprisonment Case Returns To Court

OPB | Nov. 26, 2007 7:48 a.m. | Updated: July 17, 2012 1:18 a.m. | Madras, OR

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By Ethan Lindsey

A month ago, we reported on the tragic case of a Madras 18-year-old who pled guilty to a crime that should never have been prosecuted.

Eventually the court discovered the mistake and the case was thrown out of court, but only after the defendant served 30 days in prison. Monday, the case returned to court. From Madras, Ethan Lindsey reports on the future of the case.


David Simmons wasn't in court Monday, he now lives in Texas.

But the courtroom drama continues on without him in Madras.

His attorney requested a judge dismiss the four sexually-related misdemeanors against him.

The state Supreme Court already declined to hear a similar request this summer.

That decision, in effect, meant the prosecution can pursue the sex abuse charges.

This all follows a legal mistake last year that put Simmons behind bars for 30 days, on a case that all agree should never have seen the inside of a courtroom.

Simmons' attorney is Steve Richkind.

He admits that since the state didn't throw out the case then, a dismissal from the county now is unlikely.

Steve Richkind: "Basically they are in denial that what they did to him has any legal effect.”

Richkind also argued that if the case does indeed move forward, a jury should be able to hear about the mistaken prosecution and conviction.

In that trial, Simmons pled guilty to a felony for having sex with his 14-year-old girlfriend. Under Oregon state law that's statutory rape.

The case is possibly the first time, on record, that an Oregon district attorney mistakenly prosecuted a defendant after a grand jury ruled there wasn't enough evidence to go forward.

The state's attorney told the judge that a new jury would be biased if it were to find out about the mistaken prosecution.

The trial drew several onlookers and journalists to a cramped courtroom in Madras.

David Glenn is a local defense attorney who is intrigued by the case.

David Glenn: "It is a very unusual case, you know, hopefully it will never happen again. It was just a horrible mistake that everybody made. Just doesn't look good at all on our judicial system. But I don't see it as a cover-up, when the mistake was discovered everybody did everything they could to correct it.”

Glenn is referring to attorney Steve Richkind's courtroom argument. He said that the motive for trying to get a conviction in  this new case is to quash any lawsuit against the state for the former wrongful imprisonment.

Richkind says he plans to file a federal lawsuit against the local attorneys and judges — and the state.

He says recent press coverage about the case has added a whole lot of firepower to his legal team.

Steve Richkind: "As a result, former U-S attorney Charles Turner wrote a scathing indictment against the system that's trying to use this young man again, just to cover its own self from liability.”

The judge on the case says he will rule on the dismissal, and other procedural motions, next week.

The case is scheduled to go in front of a jury in January.

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