Minor victim of sexual asserts right to be consulted regarding plea and the right to be heard at sentencing
The Oregon Crime Victims Law Center continues to assist victims in asserting their rights in criminal cases.
Recently Legal Director Rosemary Brewer represented the family of a minor victim of sexual assault in asserting the right to consultation with the prosecutor regarding plea negotiations. Ms. Brewer was able to work with the victims and the prosecutor to craft sentencing recommendations that the family felt were necessary for the minor victim's safety. After a plea agreement was reached Ms. Brewer assisted the family in preparing their victim impact statements for the sentencing hearing.
A judge in Polk County denied a defense motion to subpoena a child victim's prior medical records after OCVLC Staff Attorney Melanie Kebler objected on behalf of the child victim and her mother. Ms. Kebler worked with the Deputy District Attorney handling the case, and both attorneys argued against the defense's request to reveal personal medical information in records unrelated to the charged crime. The judge agreed and the records were not released to either party.
OCVLC has represented victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking in protective order proceedings in Multnomah County. Staff Attorney Melanie Kebler has helped victims through contested restraining order hearings, modification hearings, and renewal hearings. OCVLC has also assisted with one Sexual Abuse Protection Order, under the new Oregon law which took effect January 1, 2014. Many of these victims also require counsel and advice regarding a parallel criminal case, which OCVLC has been able to provide.
OCVLC represented a victim of sexual assault in both her civil restraining order case and the criminal case against her abuser. OCVLC Staff Attorney Melanie Kebler was able to successfully argue to the court that the restraining order deposition should be stayed while the criminal case was pending, which prevented the victim from going through the trauma of being interviewed by the defendant's attorney. In the criminal case, Ms. Kebler also argued against invasive subpoenas from the defense that requested the victim's counseling records, emails, and even information from OCVLC's own file. The case was ultimately resolved by a plea, and Ms. Kebler assisted the victim in asserting her right to be consulted, so that her input on the plea deal was considered by the District Attorney. The victim was able to give a statement to the judge at sentencing, with the support of OCVLC and advocates from Portland Police, the DA's Office, and Parole and Probation. OCVLC will continue to help this victim through the process of asking the sentencing judge to order the defendant to pay full restitution for the victim's past and future medical and counseling costs.
On February 18, 2014, the Oregon Board of Parole and Post-Prison Supervision deferred the release date of inmate Dail Yates for a period of four years. In a unanimous decision, the Board found that Yates has a present severe emotional disturbance that cannot be sufficiently controlled to protect the health and safety of the community.
Yates pleaded guilty in 1990 for the murder of Shelley Elkins, 20, in Clackamas County. Ms. Elkins was the fiance of Yates' cousin, and was attacked by Yates in her home. After strangling Ms. Elkins to death, Yates called his mother, then held a gun and refused to allow police or medical personnel into the home for hours.
During lengthy questioning by the Board, Yates called the murder of Ms. Elkins "a bad choice" that he made. The Board found that Yates displayed a total lack of understanding why he committed the murder, and that he showed "no remorse or empathy" for the death of Ms. Elkins. Board member Sid Thompson said he was struck by how "cold and emotionless" Yates was as he described killing Ms. Elkins.
Yates' release was opposed by the Clackamas County District Attorney's Office, represented by Bill Stewart, as well as by Ms. Elkins' sister, mother, father, other family members, and friends of the family. Rosemary Brewer, Legal Director of the OCVLC, argued against Yates' release on behalf of Ms. Elkins' father.
As a nonprofit focused on providing no cost legal services to crime victims, the Oregon Crime Victims Law Center (OCVLC) has been busy the past few months providing a variety of services to crime victims of all types and from areas around the state.
In Columbia County, OCVLC successfully helped a child sex abuse victim and her family assert their right to a speedy trial in a case that had been pending since 2012. After OCVLC got involved, no further continuances were requested and the defendant ultimately settled the case through a plea deal.
In Clackamas County, OCVLC agreed to help a stalking victim with the legal issue of clarifying her Stalking Protective Order, originally granted in 2001. Since that time, due to court error on the original judgment, it had become unclear whether the order was permanent and should be entered into law enforcement databases. OCVLC filed a motion to correct the judgment on the victim’s behalf, and the Court granted the motion and signed a new, corrected, permanent Stalking Protective Order.
In Clatsop County, OCVLC attorneys were able to persuade the court to seal the testimony of the victim in a rape case after the victim discovered that a person not associated with the case was attempting to get a copy of it. Upon a showing of good cause to seal the records, the court agreed that the victim would only be "re-victimized" were the testimony to be released.
Finally in Multnomah County, a crime victim who had also obtained a restraining order requested help with an upcoming contested restraining order. OCVLC represented the victim in the restraining order case and also helped the victim through the process of the defendant pleading guilty in the criminal case, by helping her assert her right to speak at that critical stage hearing. After pleading guilty, the defendant withdrew his request for a contested restraining order hearing.
OCVLC has once again prevented the pretrial release of a victim’s private records, challenging invasive defense subpoenas in a child sex abuse case.
In December 2013 and January 2014, a Klamath County Circuit Court judge quashed two rounds of defense subpoenas seeking personal medical and counseling records of a minor sex abuse victim. OCVLC stepped in on behalf of the victim and asked the court not to allow the defendant to abuse the subpoena process to go on a “fishing expedition” for information about the victim’s past. OCVLC argued that the defendant had not made a sufficient showing that the records were material and favorable to the defense, and therefore those records had been inappropriately subpoenaed prior to trial. The Court agreed with OCVLC’s arguments and quashed the subpoenas, allowing the defendant only the ability to subpoena the records directly to trial, where the Court would then require a threshold showing by the defense before reviewing any of the records.
On January 22, 2014 the Oregon Crime Victims Law Center (OCVLC) helped to persuade the Oregon Board of Parole and Post Prison Supervision that an inmate who bludgeoned and strangled a Portland man to death in 1987 should serve at least another two years in prison. Scott Wickee, along with co-defendant Kevin Roper, were found guilty of aggravated murder and sentenced to life in prison.
Board member Candace Wheeler told Wickee that he "continues to minimize" his role in the murder of Eddie Lee "Bobby" Gibbs. "You seem to just feel sorry for yourself," Wheeler noted. The Board set a new potential release date of April 2016.
The Board unanimously found that Wickee has a "present severe emotional disturbance that would make (him) a danger to the community if released." In his description of the murder of Mr. Gibbs, Wickee downplayed his role, and claimed that he never expected the murder to happen, despite evidence of significant planning in advance by Wickee and Roper.
Wickee's release was opposed by Multnomah County Deputy District Attorney Amity Girt, as well as Mr. Gibbs' mother, sister, and brother. Rosemary Brewer, Legal Director of the OCVLC, argued on behalf of Mr. Gibbs' brother-in-law, Dennis Doern.
We are excited to announce that the Oregon Crime Victims Law Center has moved to a new location!
Our new physical/mailing address is:
7412 SW Beaverton-Hillsdale Hwy
Portland, OR 97225
The new office is in an accessible and desirable location for our clients, attorneys and professional staff. It is close to major highways and public transportation, and, unlike our previous downtown location, it offers free parking!
Photo of our new building, courtesy of American Property Management.
We are pleased to announce the hire of Melanie Kebler as our new staff attorney. Melanie spent four years as a prosecutor in both Lincoln and Yamhill Counties, focusing on crimes of domestic violence and sexual assault. Throughout her career as a prosecutor, Melanie worked closely with victims and victim advocates to ensure that crime victims understood the criminal justice system and were treated fairly within it. She also worked hard to achieve just results in each criminal case, to hold offenders accountable, and to achieve protection and restitution for victims.
As a staff attorney for OCVLC, Melanie will be handling cases involving victims of any crime around the state. We are confident she will continue to uphold the OCVLC’s standard of providing expert, no-cost legal representation that clients of OCVLC have come to expect. Prior to attending law school at Lewis and Clark Law School in Portland, Melanie graduated from the University of Michigan in 2005. She joins legal director Rosemary Brewer and administrative director and victim advocate Cristina Damiani.
The Board of Parole and Post-Prison Supervision has deferred the release of inmate Sidney Dean Porter, convicted of aggravated murder in the 1992 beating death of John Day police officer Frank Ward. Porter's new projected release date is in June 2015. The Oregon Crime Victims Law Center represented Ben Ward, the brother of Frank Ward, at the Parole Board hearing held on September 30, 2013.
According to the Board of Parole, Porter "failed to demonstrate a full understanding of his criminal offense." During the hearing, Porter's version of the events of the evening of April 8, 1992 differed substantially from witness accounts and investigative reports.The Board found that Porter "minimized his actions" in describing the murder of Officer Ward, and that he "understated his history of domestic violence."
"I'm just glad the whole truth came out. The Board heard what really happened that night," said Ben Ward.
Rosemary Brewer, legal director of OCVLC, submitted a memo in opposition to Porter's release on behalf of Ben Ward, who spoke at the hearing. Grant County District Attorney Ryan Joslin also argued against Porter's release.
On October 9, 2013, the Oregon Crime Victims Law Center helped to persuade the Oregon Board of Parole and Post-Prison Supervision that an inmate who orchestrated the beating death of a 21-year-old Oregon City man that he should spend at least another 48 months behind bars.
The Board had previously set a release date for Tony Wik of January 24, 2014, but after deliberating unanimously concluded that the inmate had a present severe emotional disturbance that would make him a threat to the safety of the community.
At the hearing, Wik continued to deny that he planned and carried out the murder of Rob Elledge, a man Wik said he considered his "best friend." After questioning Wik for more than two hours, board vice-chair Candace Wheeler told him, "Frankly. you're not credible."
Wik was convicted of felony murder, burglary and hindering prosecution, and given a sentence of life with a minimum of 25 years with five years consecutive for hindering prosecution in 1987 by Clackamas County Circuit Court Judge Raymond Bagley. An Oregon Supreme Court holding in 2010 required the board to set a possible release date for the inmate if it found that he was likely to be rehabilitated, even though he has not yet completed his 30 year minimum sentence.
OCVLC represented Rob Elledge's parents, Mary and Robert, in opposing Wik's release. Also appearing at the hearing were the victim's sisters and brother-in-law. Clackamas County Deputy District Attorney Al French also spoke in opposition to the release. Rosemary Brewer, legal director of OCVLC, argued on behalf of Robert Elledge.
The Oregon Crime Victims Law Center successfully represented the family of murder victim Eddie Gibbs at a hearing before the Board of Parole and Post-Prison Supervision on July 16, 2013. Gibbs was 20 years old at the time he was murdered in 1987 by Kevin Roper and Scott Wickee. Wickee and Roper pleaded guilty to aggravated murder and received sentences of life in prison.
After hearing from Roper, a supporter of Roper, a Multnomah County Deputy District Attorney, OCVLC Legal Director Rosemary Brewer, and family members of Eddie Gibbs, the Board decided to defer Roper's release date for two years. He has a potential release date of February 14, 2016. Two members of the Board found that Roper has a present severe emotional disturbance that makes him a danger to the safety of the community, while one Board member was in favor of Roper's release.
The family of Eddie Gibbs asked the Board to defer Roper's release for as long as possible, arguing that he is still a danger to the community and that they themselves feel they would not be safe were he to be released. OCVLC's Legal Director, Ms. Brewer, spoke on behalf of Dennis Doern, brother in law to Eddie Gibbs.
The hearing for Scott Wickee was a continuation of the release hearing that was held in January of 2012. The Board has not reached a decision in that matter.
On March 29, 2013, Multnomah County Judge Diana Stuart rejected a request by double murderer Mark Beebout to change his name to Yunus Mohammed -- questioning his stated intention that he wants to make the switch for purely religious reasons. Beebout’s name change petition was opposed by the family of Nikayla Powell, one of Beebout’s victims, who was represented in the matter by OCVLC’s Legal Director, Rosemary Brewer, and Pro Bono Attorney and OCVLC Board Member Erin K. Olson.
Beebout filed his name change petition shortly before being sentenced to two consecutive life terms following his guilty pleas to two counts of aggravated murder. OCVLC’s attorneys cited cases from other states in which convicts’ efforts to change there name were rejected by courts as being inconsistent with the public interest. Oregon law also contains a public interest exception to the otherwise absolute right to change one’s name, and Judge Stuart relied upon that exception in denying Beebout’s name change petition. In addition to questioning his stated religious motivation, Judge Stuart made reference to the fact that Beebout is a registered sex offender whose registration and underlying sex offense conviction (for sexually assaulting a 14 year-old girl) is in his “Beebout” name, he has been convicted of failing to register as a sex offender in the past, and that the victims’ families and friends are members of the public who had made it clear in their letters and e-mails to her that allowing Beebout to change his name was not in their interest.
Beebout can appeal the denial of his petition to the Oregon Court of Appeals if he so chooses.
The Oregon Crime Victims Law Center (OCVLC) has successfully prevented the release of victims' private records in several cases recently, helping victims protect their privacy and assert their rights. First, in Klamath County, a defendant filed a subpoena for a number of a juvenile victim's records, including school and counseling records. The OCVLC challenged the subpoena on behalf of the victim, arguing that the subpoena was overbroad, the records were privileged and the defendant had no constitutional or statutory right to the records. The judge, following a hearing on the matter, agreed to do an in camera review of some of the counseling records and quashed the subpoena for the majority of the records.
In a case in Columbia County, a defendant had filed subpoenas for a victim's school, counseling and medical records. Again the OCVLC responded on behalf of the victim, challenging the subpoenas on the grounds that they were overbroad, immaterial, and nothing more than a "fishing expedition" on the part of the defendant. The Court agreed, and quashed all of the subpoenas.
The OCVLC also stepped in on behalf of a victim in Jackson County. In that case the defense was seeking the counseling records of a minor victim. Again the OCVLC filed a motion to quash the subpoena, arguing that the defendant had not made a sufficient showing that the records were material and favorable to the defense, as required. The Court agreed with the legal argument put forth by the Center and granted the Motion to Quash.
Protecting the right to privacy is critical to preventing re-traumatizing a victim who has already suffered harm, and the OCVLC will continue to fight for victims' protection from invasive discovery requests.