I am the Deputy County Attorney for Multnomah County, Oregon. For nearly 20 years I have provided legal advice to the Multnomah County Department of Community Justice, and the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office. The issues I advise on involve every aspect of local corrections law, including constitutional law (search and seizure, conditions of confinement, Miranda warnings, and equal protection); criminal law (parole, probation and post prison supervision); and juvenile law. And, because corrections services are delivered by employees of the County, I also am involved in advising on labor and employment issues, some of which are unique to law enforcement agencies.
When I determined, as a senior in college, to go to law school, I did not even know that “corrections law” existed. And, when I graduated from law school after 3 years, passed the state bar exam, and started looking for work as a lawyer, I still had no clue that “corrections law” was an option. I spent the first seven years of my career as in house counsel to a large insurance company. I tried dozens of cases involving motor vehicle accident injuries, and worker’s compensation injuries.
While I was very successful in my job, I did not find it personally fulfilling, and the corporate world did not fit my personality. So, when a job opportunity came up with the Multnomah County Attorney’s Office, I applied. I was hired based upon my extensive experience with Worker’s Compensation Law, but very quickly was also tasked with advising both the Department of Community Justice and the Sheriff’s Office.
The learning curve was steep; I could spell “corrections” and “jail” and “parole” and “probation”, but becoming proficient in these areas of the law took years and many hours of reading and researching statutes and case law. By far my best teacher over the years, however, has been my clients. The parole and probation officers, corrections officers, and juvenile justice workers have guided me in understanding their work, and their passion for that work inspired me to learn and understand this exciting and dynamic area of the law.