June 22, 2016
Ellen F. Rosenblum
Attorney General Oregon Department of Justice 1162 Court Street NE Salem, OR 97301-4096
Sheriff Craig Roberts
Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office 2223 Kaen Rd. Oregon City, OR 97045
To Our Law Enforcement Leaders:
Alexander Hamilton is credited with a quote that adorns the first floor marble wall of our Federal Court House, a basic but complete directive that “the first duty of a society is justice.” But there will always be a definitive question asked and that is Justice for Whom?
Statues of Justice found in courthouses hold a balance scale in her left hand and a sword in her right. She is sometimes depicted wearing a blindfold representing equality of persons before the law. And I trust we will agree that equality is both a moral and ethical mandate.
The Oregon State Bar is vested with absolute immunity in a very specific set of circumstances, while designing (and perhaps even executing) duties assigned to them by our state. The Oregon State Bar Professional Liability Fund is not.
Three months ago I filed a lawsuit in Clackamas County against two attorneys and the Oregon State Bar for defamation, related claims and racketeering. The two attorneys are, for some reason, represented by attorneys hired by the PLF. A motion to dismiss my claims was heard before Skip Winters, a pro tem Judge. Naturally the motion to dismiss was intended to deny my opportunity to have my claims heard before a jury of my peers. The motion was successful, the PLF prevailed, and my motion for reconsideration is pending. The argument proffered by the PLF is contrary to judicial precedent, meaning on its face it should not have survived independent review by a competent Judge.
The actions taken by the PLF and Judge Winters are noteworthy because Skip Winters is a partner in a law firm, namely Bodyfelt Mount, LLC, with offices in Portland. His firm provides defense representation to the PLF. Mr. Winters therefore has an economic interest and relationship with the PLF and should not make any judicial decisions that could in any way benefit the PLF. Doing so would be the antithesis of Justice.
Has a crime been committed? I think so. First though I need to assert to you that Skip Winters, The Bar, The PLF, Counsel for the Defendants and the Defendants all had a separate duty of disclosure as to the conflict that exists with Skip Winters. That being true, in part or whole, the actions of deceit take on more meaning and meet the definition of criminal racketeering.
As of this writing, the Oregon Department of Justice claims that they do not have jurisdiction to investigate my complaint. Based on my review of their authority, that does not appear to be true but as a matter of procedure the ODJ would prefer to engage directly with local law enforcement. The Clackamas County Sheriff’s office has refused to even investigate the complaint filed with them. The Oregon City Police and West Linn Police believe jurisdiction for investigation is properly with the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Department and the Oregon Department of Justice.
Choosing to not open a file and investigate is quite a different matter from investigating and finding insufficient information to prosecute. Not choosing to investigate a matter involving a pro tem Judge is contrary to “the first duty.” Most of the evidence is public. To suggest for example that the Skip Winters did not know that his firm represents the PLF is incorrect. The firm’s website lists the PLF as a client. To suggest that he does not benefit is incorrect since he is a partner and benefits from all economic relationships of the law firm. I suspect there is very discoverable communication between the PLF and Skip Winters on this matter that law enforcement could subpoena.
What are you afraid of? Do you believe that the judiciary will retaliate against you in the event you determine there is wrong doing? Is that the standard of faith that we as members of this county and state are called upon to accept? I don’t think so. In fact I have reason to believe that the Clackamas County Judges take their integrity and public trust very seriously. I doubt a criminal prosecution on Skip Winter’s actions should be prosecuted in Clackamas County given that Skip Winter is married to Judge Weber.
You can and should do more. Empowering the Bar and the PLF with an unfettered belief in their absolute immunity is not in the public’s interest. We may not be able to solve the racketeering problem in our state, but you can in this small and important matter take action to protect our County. Some law enforcement agency needs to step up and investigate.
Very truly yours,
/s/ Timothy C. Rote
Timothy C. Rote
Cc: Willamette Week The Oregonian The Portland Business Journal The Pamplin Group The New York Times FBI Task Force on Public Corruption The Honorable Robert E. Jones