Thursday, December 1, 2016

Hardy Myers

Hardy was a man of remarkable compassion, who took on tremendous leadership in the realm of victims' rights. Hardy's commitment to victims rights continued after he left office and his was an important voice for people too long ignored by the legal system. He was a real class act and will be terribly missed. Here is the Oregonian's story about his life and death::::::

Former Attorney General Hardy Myers dies at age 77
By Samantha Matsumoto
November 30, 2016 at 8:45 AM, updated December 01, 2016 at 9:37 AM

Former Oregon Attorney General Hardy Myers, who worked in state politics for more than three decades, died Tuesday night, his son said. He was 77.

Myers died from complications with pneumonia, his son Chris Myers said. He had also had been sick with lung cancer for the past two years, Chris Myers said. He left behind three sons, 10 grandchildren and his wife of 54 years, Mary Ann Myers.

Myers had a long and accomplished career in state politics. He served in the Oregon House of Representatives for five terms, holding the reins as speaker from 1979 to 1982. The Democrat was later elected attorney general in 1996.

Gov. Kate Brown lauded Myers' work to improve domestic and sexual violence laws and school safety policies after the Thurston High School shooting in 1998.

"Oregon lost a true statesman today. Hardy Myers dedicated most of his adult life to serving the people of Oregon as a legislator and Attorney General," Brown said in a statement. "His legal acumen was greatly respected by lawmakers, and he was beloved by many who worked for him."

During his career, Myers worked to improve consumer laws, including multistate settlements with drug companies. He bolstered services to victims of sexual assault and domestic violence. He helped negotiate a settlement between states and the tobacco industry in 1998. He also successfully defended the state's assisted suicide law, which the U.S. Supreme Court upheld in 2006.

Born Oct. 25, 1939, Myers was raised in central Oregon. He attended Crook County High School in Prineville before attending the University of Mississippi for his undergraduate degree. He graduated from the University of Oregon's law school in 1964.

Myers began his career in state politics in 1974 when he won a seat in the Oregon House from Portland. He served two of his five legislative terms as House speaker. After the House, he worked as a lawyer for the Stoel Rives law firm in Portland.

Myers ran for attorney general in 1996 after Ted Kulongoski announced he would not run for a second term as attorney general. Myers beat out then-Democrat Kevin Mannix and Victor Hoffer for the job.

Myers served 12 years as attorney general before he retired in 2009 at age 69. He is tied for Oregon's third-longest serving attorney general with Andrew Crawford.

Senate President Peter Courtney called Myers' death a giant loss. Myers was the first House speaker Courtney worked with, he said.

"He taught me everything," Courtney said in a statement. "He taught me to respect the institution. He taught me to respect the process. He taught me to respect other people and other viewpoints. He was a wonderful gentleman."

Chris Myers said he will remember family cross county road trips with his father, with many stops at historical sites.

His father was devoted to both his family and his career as a public servant, Chris Myers said.
"I think people really respected his integrity and fairness," Chris Myers said. "Those were the hallmarks of his career."

Myers' funeral will be at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 7 at the All Saints Catholic Church at 3847 NE Glisan St.
-- Samantha Matsumoto

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Earned Incarceration

I was asked to address the increasingly controversial  issue of mass incarceration. My contribution on behalf of America's prosecutors follow:::: 

One of the urban legends accepted by conservatives and liberals alike is the claim that mass incarceration is out of control, that America has become a virtual prison state filled with inmates serving time for nonviolent crimes. In the primary races for president, everyone from Carly Fiorina and Rand Paul to Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton decried the number of inmates in prison serving time for victimless drug offenses and harmless property crimes.

As the media are finally figuring out, our prisons are not filled with pot smokers.

The U.S. Justice Department found that only 3.6 percent of state inmates were sentenced for drug possession. When it came to marijuana, the number plummeted to three-tenths of 1 percent.

Yet the falsehood lives on because it’s politically convenient. Likewise the myth of nonviolent property crimes. Barely 25 percent of inmates are in prison for property crimes.

Prosecutors come face-to-face with the victims of these supposedly harmless crimes. If you think drug dealing is a victimless crime, you’ve never talked to parents trying to keep their children away from drug dealers. You’ve never seen someone whose life has been ruined by meth or heroin addiction. There’s nothing nonviolent about it.

And if you think breaking into someone’s home and destroying their sense of safety is no big deal, then you can probably afford private security.

The politically inconvenient fact is that the majority of inmates in our prisons are guilty of violent offenses. Do we now let them out so Republicans and Democrats who don’t live in high-crime neighborhoods can feel good about themselves?

We tried this in the 1970s, when the media was filled with optimistic stories of various social programs to rehabilitate violent criminals. The result? By the 1980s, crime was the No. 1 concern of many Americans.

Our prison population is not the result of overzealous prosecutors. Like it or not, our prisons are filled with people who earned their incarceration through their behavior.

What do we do about them? Require them to serve their sentences. Accountability and truth in sentencing are not political gimmicks. In the long run it will be cheaper. We will have fewer victims, and more criminals will focus on true change instead of trying to game the system.If you want to see what can happen if we let violent offenders out, consider what the Los Angeles Times found in 2006 when it looked at results of releasing jail inmates early because of jail closures: “Rearrests for violent and life-threatening crimes soared from 74 before the jail closures to more than 4,000.” What the Times story didn’t address, but prosecutors know, is that most victims of violent crime are poor and minority. These victims are invisible to even the most liberal politicians. This is the real reason for the bipartisan push to empty our prisons and save money. It is the poor whose safety will be sacrificed.

It has become a cliché that America incarcerates more people than any other nation. If America were a prison state, immigrants would not want to move here. They come here because of our freedoms and our justice system. In America, we attempt to control violent people who use their freedom to hurt others.

read all five opinions on the Violence and Redemption website.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

That wasn't his record

Guest Column: Story was too sympathetic to violent felon
by Joshua Marquis
Published on June 8, 2016 9:30AM
Last changed on June 8, 2016 12:02PM

A front-page story in The Daily Astorian ("A life in free fall," by Erick Bengel) on May 30 told the account of a local man, Vincent Davidson-Gilbert, who sounded like he couldn’t catch a break.

This highly sympathetic story claimed that Davidson-Gilbert had somehow gotten a 65-month prison sentence from Judge Cindee Matyas because of “misdeeds” somehow caused by his heroin addiction.

Readers should know that his defense lawyer’s claim that the “criminal justice system has criminalized the mental health disease of addiction” is flatly untrue. Davidson-Gilbert didn’t receive a five-year prison sentence for using heroin. He earned that sentence because in the course of two months earlier this year he armed himself with a gun and then burst into one home, threatened the people who lived there and then, two months later, broke into his ex-wife’s home and assaulted two people.

A home-invasion burglary is one of the most dangerous crimes. The writer attempted to wring sympathy for Davidson-Gilbert by claiming, “It didn’t matter that Vincent’s first felony occurred almost a decade ago. It didn’t matter that he had volunteered for a local food bank ….”

What mattered is that he had a gun and broke into two homes and terrified the occupants. The District Attorney’s Office does look at all factors of a defendant’s crimes, including his life and various second, third and fourth chances.

A reader of this story would assume Davidson-Gilbert got himself sent to prison for joy riding nine years ago, then held down a supervisor’s job at a local big box store. Except that wasn’t his record. The reporter just took the word of the defendant, his mom, and his lawyer and only did a cursory review of the record. The reporter also attended the sentencing on the two home-invasion burglaries yet never mentioned the tearful statement by one of the victims.

In Oregon, less than 7 percent of prison inmates are doing time for drugs. Davidson is part of the 70 percent who are in for violent felonies. Back in 2007, at age 18, he racked up eight felony convictions and three misdemeanors. The crimes for which he went to prison included another home invasion burglary and a felony assault. Although the article implied he had straightened out between 2008 and 2011, he had in fact spent most of that time in prison.

Despite Davidson-Gilbert’s appalling record, a local company took a chance on him and gave him a good job. By all accounts he had a supportive family. His mother is quoted throughout the article, blaming drugs and a less-than-perfect mental health system for her son’s failures.

Davidson repaid the fresh start that was offered him by racking up a second, then a third drunken-driving charge before arming himself (illegal for a violent felon) and breaking into two homes earlier this year.

Those of us in law enforcement don’t get rewarded for sending people to prison. We have plenty of customers and would much rather help those willing to show responsibility for their own addictions. Our drug courts reward participation in treatment and staying clean by erasing a felony conviction. Davidson-Gilbert was far beyond that. His drug of choice was heroin.

Prison is all that’s left for someone who has now reached double digits in felony convictions — half of them for violent crimes (DUIIs aren’t considered violent crimes).

There are participants in Judge Philip Nelson’s drug court who have inspirational stories of redemption. It’s an insult to their accomplishments when we continue to offer multiple chances to a man like Davidson-Gilbert.

Readers deserve to know what he did to earn his lifetime achievement award for crime. This is why his mom won’t get what she wants — her son released after a year or two. Still, Davidson-Gilbert may only serve 47 months of his 65-month sentence. His lawyer, Ms. Inhofe, got him a pretty good deal considering that if convicted of just the two new burglaries, sentencing guidelines could have meant a 130-month sentence.

As the district attorney for more than 22 years, I often see people who really screw up but deserve a second or third chance. Vincent Davidson-Gilbert isn’t one of them after 10 felonies and six misdemeanors.

Joshua Marquis has served as the district attorney of Clatsop County since 1994.