Legal Ethics

Bar drops complaint against DA and defense lawyer over 'undeniably invalid' court order

The Oregon State Bar has decided to drop an unusual legal ethics complaint against a sitting district attorney and a defense lawyer accused of knowingly urging a judge to issue an “undeniably invalid order” to commit a mentally ill man to a state hospital for treatment.

Washington County District Attorney Bob Hermann and defense attorney Robert Axford had been accused of crafting a so-called mental illness magistrate hold order knowing that there was no legal basis for such an order. However, it now appears that their intention was to supplement rather than circumvent the law, a bar spokeswoman tells the Oregonian.

“Most notably, the OSB’s case rested on a belief that Hermann and Axford crafted an order essentially to bypass Oregon’s civil commitment process in order to permanently institutionalize a criminal defendant without due process of law,” spokeswoman Kateri Walsh said Tuesday in a written statement. provided to the newspaper.

“During the course of the investigation, OSB staff concluded that the attorneys had not sought to bypass the civil commitment procedure, but to initiate that very same process. … The allegation that the attorneys were knowingly taking a legal position without any merit became untenable.”

The subject of the disputed order, Donn Thomas Spinosa, has been indicted but has never been convicted in the 1997 slaying of his wife. After the October 2011 order was entered, he was civilly committed for treatment using a standard legal process.

See also: “Did DA and defense lawyer use ‘undeniably invalid order’ to commit schizophrenic man?”

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