OCDLA Board of Directors

2019 Election

 

Candidates

Please check back for updates.

 

District 3 — Coos, Curry, Douglas, Jackson, Josephine counties.

 

Gina Stewart, Roseburg

 

 

 

District 5 — Multnomah County

 

Ellen Pitcher, Portland

 

 

Since my second year in law school, forty years ago, I have spent my entire legal career practicing criminal law: first at the Metropolitan Public Defender as research clerk, certified law student and attorney; then at Pitcher & Wright, the law practice my husband and I founded in Hood River in 1983; as an Assistant Federal Public Defender, then Senior Litigator at the Federal Defender’s Office from 1991 to 2015; and finally in my slow “descent” into retirement (not there yet!), as a sole practitioner focusing on post-conviction and habeas litigation.

During these decades, I have tried cases in Medford, Eugene, Moro, The Dalles, Hood River and of course Portland, as well as argued before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Occasionally I have heard those magic two-word verdicts or received good news from the Ninth Circuit. However, like the vast majority of OCDLA members, most of my cases have ended with a sentencing, and the recognition that my client would be entering our vast system of incarceration, often with an excessively long sentence, leaving him or her upon release with little to no ability to lead a productive life, thus resulting in ridiculously high rates of recidivism in comparison with other “civilized” societies.

My first motivation to seek this Board position is to join OCDLA’s lobbying efforts as an advocate for prosecutorial and sentencing reform in ways that will benefit our clients and society. I have been blown away at the effectiveness over time of our lobbyists and want to do whatever is in my power to support and amplify their efforts.

My second motivation is more focused on us, as attorneys and as people. I now serve on an Oregon State Bar committee curiously entitled “Quality of Life.” However, it has been an eye-opener, especially concerning the percentage of bar members who suffer from addiction, mental health issues and, simply, the stress of practicing law, which is highest for the youngest among us.

I know that the heartbreaking stories we hear every day, which run the gamut from our own clients’ sad life stories to the traumatic facts of our cases, combined with the stress of deadlines that sometimes seem impossible to competently maneuver, occasionally leave many of us feeling overwhelmed. I have welcomed the evolution from “toughing it out,” often with a shot of bourbon, to adopting helpful strategies like meditation and exercise, and sharing our burdens rather than hiding them. If elected, I hope to strengthen our efforts to keep our members healthy.

I have been a proud member of OCDLA since 1980, serving on several occasions as a board member. As my workload lessens and my harried life as the mother of two growing sons has morphed into proud grandmother-hood, I would welcome the opportunity to do so again!

 

John Schlosser, Portland

 

 

Apparently I engage in ‘full contact’ lawyering. For those of you who haven’t heard, I was assaulted by an ICE officer in April while representing a client. This, of course, qualifies me for nothing, but it did get me thinking about what we do to protect our clients. It also got me thinking about how I can do more.

Then I ran across an email asking for board nominees. It got me thinking about what this organization does: the trainings, educational materials, legislation (thank you, Mary). I want to do more to advance our fight, and this organization. I would be honored to receive your vote.

 

Patrick Sweeney, Portland

 

 

I have lived in Multnomah County all of my life. I received my BS from Portland State University and my JD from Lewis and Clark Law School. I have been involved in criminal defense since joining Metropolitan Public Defenders as a Certified Law Student in 1995. I have been a member of OCDLA since that time. I worked at MPD for five years, obtaining the position of Chief Major Felony Attorney. Since leaving MPD, I have run my own criminal defense practice, focusing almost exclusively on homicide and sexual assault cases. Presently, I handle retained cases as well as public defense contract work for Jessica’s Law cases, murder and capital murder.

While practicing criminal law, I have been active within the criminal defense community. I have spoken several times at OCDLA CLEs on topics such as vouching, OEC 104 hearings, hearsay notice in child sex cases, Crawford/hearsay, Brady/discovery and most recently on capacity hearings. I wrote chapters for and edited OCDLA’s Major Crimes and Defenses manual.
For the past 10 years, I served as board presidasnt for the Columbia County Indigent Defense Consortium, which provides attorney services to indigent persons accused of crimes in Columbia County. As board president, I have been involved with both the Public Defense Services Commission and the individual contractors providing services.

Criminal law is an ever-evolving practice. The OCDLA is vital in helping to keep its members organized and informed. I have almost 25 years of experience in handling criminal cases and assisting lawyers directly and indirectly through speaking engagements and written materials. I am familiar with the needs of attorneys for large-scale public defense agencies, individual contractors and those handling a retained caseload. I believe my experience would prove to be an asset to the OCDLA board and provide me with insight and judgment regarding how the OCDLA can best serve its members.

 

District 6 — Clackamas, Linn, Marion

 

Jon Weiner, Salem

Photo coming soon.
Statement coming soon.

 

Shannon Wilson, Oregon City

 

 

I started my career working at a nonprofit juvenile law firm. After two years and a surprise burnout, I worked construction and listened to Zen podcasts until I was ready to return to the practice of law. As a young lawyer, I admittedly did not possess the emotional capacity to deal with the realities of public defense work. Ninety percent of my caseload is now court-appointed work, but it took time to build the knowledge and stamina necessary to become an effective defense attorney.

In 2009, I hung my own shingle (in what was debatably a shared office space) and I started taking defense cases through the OSB Modest Means program. From there, I took work wherever I could get it and met many of you while traveling this beautiful state. I made appearances throughout Oregon from Jefferson County to Coos County. I drove a beat-up Toyota Corolla and often camped when I could not afford a hotel (not as romantic as it sounds).

Now, I have a thriving practice and offices located in both Clackamas and Marion counties. I hold an executive board position with the Clackamas Indigent Defense Corporation (CIDC) and recently accepted the position as Specialty Court Coordinator for CIDC. I am currently the chair of the CIDC education committee. I am also part of Clackamas County’s interagency team implementing and monitoring pretrial reform and a member of the subcommittee tackling concerns around domestic violence risk assessment tools. Last year, I had the pleasure of co-creating the very first public defense law clerk externship program in Clackamas County. We are about to receive our second group of students and are excited to be an integral part of their practical legal education. Most recently, I founded Compassionate Justice, a criminal justice professionals’ meditation and mindfulness community.

I am always looking for ways to give back to the lawyers who helped me become the practitioner I am. I have been a member of OCDLA for the past ten years, and I could not do this work without the support of our defense community. My candidacy comes from a desire to serve you all and contribute in a meaningful way to this incredible organization. When I couldn’t afford to attend a CLE, scholarships were available, or volunteer opportunities helped with the cost. When isolated while working my private caseload, I used the Pond as a sounding board and had access to seasoned practitioners with patience to chat over the phone or even in person about a legal issue. I respect the giving nature of this organization. I am aware of the changes happening within our defense community and public defense services at large. We truly are in this fight together, checking the government, building platforms for the oppressed, and demanding the best from ourselves and each other.