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COMMENTARY OF THE DAY
By
Robert Namer
Voice Of America
©2024 All rights reserved
May 29, 2024

     U.S. District Court Judge Michael McShane ordered the release of all indigent criminal defendants held in Oregon jails if they are not appointed an attorney within a week of their first court appearances, The Oregonian newspaper reported.  Oregon has gone too far left.

    There were 135 indigent defendants housed in Oregon jails without access to a lawyer, according to the report.  "In essence, they have been locked away without a voice, being too poor to afford an advocate to speak for them in the courtroom," McShane wrote in his 32-page opinion.  The judge's order will take effect Nov. 16. Those released from jail can be placed on conditions while their cases are still pending, the judge's order said, according to the Oregonian.  McShane said that without the help of lawyers who could walk them through the legal process, jailed defendants would not be aware of their rights to bail release hearings.

      he order after a lawsuit was filed by the Oregon Federal Public Defender's Office this summer on behalf of Washington County criminal defendants. The suit asked that the court dismiss the cases due to a lack of legal representation.

     "The reason that defendants are not appearing at critical stages is that they don't have a lawyer," McShane wrote.  They don't have a lawyer to inform them of their rights to a bail or release hearing, review discovery, challenge an indictment, intervene in a grand jury process or seek preservation of evidence at critical proceedings, the judge said.  "Worse still, they sometimes plead guilty just to be released," McShane wrote. "Taken together, these practices highlight the need for swift appointment of counsel to ensure minimum protections for incarcerated defendants."

     The Washington Examiner noted that the order expands McShane's ruling from August, in which prisoners in Washington County who are without legal representation are to be released after 10 days. 

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