Oregon judge slams OHA staffer’s honesty, holds overall health agency in contempt for concealing defendants’ therapy progress

A Washington County Circuit judge on Friday issued an extraordinary rebuke of the Oregon Wellness Authority and one particular of its policy analysts for undermining the court’s efforts to monitor defendants’ compliance with court-ordered substance-abuse therapy specifications.

In a blistering 20-web page ruling, Judge Brandon M. Thompson held the state agency and its driving-beneath-the influence-of-intoxicants coordinator, Marisha Elkins, in contempt for “intentionally interfering with this court’s lawful authority” to receive urinalysis benefits and therapy specifics as permitted beneath Oregon law.

He wrote that it was “without question” that Elkins had “intentionally resisted and obstructed this court’s authority” and produced clear that she dangers 5 days in jail for each and every future try to undermine the court. He mentioned the overall health authority also faced a $ten,000 fine for each and every future obstruction.

“This court orders OHA and Ms. Elkins to cease and desist with any and all efforts to interfere and obstruct this court’s authority,” Thompson wrote.

3 overall health authority spokespeople did not quickly respond to emails late Friday looking for comment. Elkins also did not quickly respond to an e mail and voicemail looking for comment.

Thompson’s ruling caps a extended-operating dispute among the public-overall health agency and the Washington County Circuit Court more than irrespective of whether the courts are entitled to know if defendants have complied with mandated substance-abuse therapy in impaired-driving instances.

Thompson’s ruling suggests Elkins was behind a adjust to the type that therapy providers comprehensive for the courts the revised type did away with space for providers to detail a defendant’s progress. That adjust was produced in 2019.

Although the opinion has implications for impaired-driving instances in Washington County, it is unclear what impact it may well have on instances statewide. Final year, the county saw an estimated 1,200 felony and misdemeanor impaired-driving instances about ten,000 have been filed in Oregon.

According to the U.S. Centers for Illness Handle and Prevention, 1,176 people today have been killed in Oregon in wrecks involving an impaired driver among 2009 and 2018.

Typically, people today accused of driving beneath the influence of intoxicants for the 1st time are ordered to diversion applications. They usually prevent a conviction if they comprehensive court-ordered therapy. As element of the procedure, defendants sign a type granting the court access to details about their compliance with therapy.

According to Thompson’s ruling, Elkins operates with therapy providers and the regional agencies that serve as a go-among for the courts and providers.

Throughout a Dec. 16 hearing presided more than by Thompson, Elkins was questioned about alterations to the type therapy providers comprehensive for the court, as nicely as the path she offered to providers about what details they can disclose to the court and irrespective of whether defendants can authorize the release of details to the court.

Thompson located Elkins “not credible,” describing her responses as “either evasive or misleading in an try to conceal her actions.”

The judge declared some of Elkins’ responses in the course of the hearing as “reminiscent of Oliver North in the lran Contra hearings,” a Reagan Administration scandal in the course of the 1980s.

Elkins was represented in the hearing by the Oregon Division of Justice. A DOJ spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.

Throughout the December hearing, Elkins acknowledged that she had also been accused of interfering with supplying therapy specifics to the Clackamas County Circuit Court.

Thompson pointed out in his ruling that the law says courts are entitled to know about a defendant’s completion or failure to comprehensive “all or any element of the therapy.”

He concluded Elkins had lied many instances beneath oath in the course of the hearing, such as when she testified that she did not give legal guidance when Thompson mentioned it was clear she had on many occasions. For instance, the judge noted, she told therapy providers that only “enrollment and completion” details could be offered to the court. Elkins is not a lawyer.

“Ms. Elkins is not only supplying legal guidance, but it is guidance to not stick to the law,” the judge wrote.

The judge also referred to as out the Oregon Division of Justice, which he mentioned knew Elkins was providing “inaccurate” legal guidance, calling its actions “terribly troubling.”

Washington County alcohol-and-drug-screening specialist Deanna Kemper testified “about other misinformation Ms. Elkins is spreading each straight and indirectly,” Thompson’s ruling notes. Kemper is accountable for informing the court about a defendant’s compliance with therapy.

She testified that Elkins told her that “she does not think people today who voluntarily enter therapy and people today who are court-ordered need to be treated differently.”

— Noelle Crombie ncrombie@oregonian.com 503-276-7184 @noellecrombie

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