Juvenile Law Advocacy Award

2017 Recipient Dick Garbutt


Award Presentation to Dick Garbutt
Friday, April 21 • 5:00 p.m. • Hallmark Resort, Newport




Dick Garbutt has had a long and successful career in public defense in Klamath Falls, although he started his career as a deputy DA in Klamath County. He has defended clients in all types of cases and prosecuted and defended several murder cases to trial. He has served as a contract administrator for Klamath Defender Services (KDS) and has been a sounding board and mentor for his fellow attorneys. Most recently, he’s dedicated his practice to representing children involved in juvenile court.

Dick appreciates the significant needs of parents and children in the dependency system. He recognizes that a lawyer alone isn’t sufficient—parents and children need advocates to serve as motivators, coaches, and relationship builders. As an early adopter of the principles of holistic defense, Dick initiated the Dependency Case Manager (DCM) program within KDS. He convinced his consortium to hire several case managers to serve as part of the defense team in dependency cases. DCMs have proven essential: they ensure children’s needs are met, they use motivational strategies to support parent engagement, and they work with parents and children to overcome barriers.

After the successful launch of the DCM program, Dick moved on to an even greater challenge. While representing children, he was consistently dissatisfied with the frequency and quality of visits provided by DHS, particularly to babies. He recognized that frequent contact between parents and children is a necessity. Children need this contact to develop healthy attachments, and parents need this contact to learn and practice parenting skills. Determined to address this unmet need, Dick developed a plan for O.U.R. House (“Our” stands for Opportunity Understanding Responsibility), a homelike visitation center where parents and babies bond through frequent, often daily, visitation. Under Dick’s leadership, KDS leased an adorable home, turned it into a safe and welcoming visitation center, hired a qualified parenting coach, and even managed the transportation for babies to and from foster homes.

O.U.R. House is now embarking on a new chapter. KDS is in the process of passing the torch to Lutheran Community Services, and O.U.R. House will continue to grow as part of a new children’s relief nursery. Dick’s brainchild, a safe and homelike center for babies and parents to bond in a healthy way, will continue to serve the community for years to come.

Dick Garbutt’s impeccably high practice standards and compassion make him a worthy recipient of the Juvenile Law Advocacy Award.


— Amy Miller, Office of Public Defense Services