Former Portland attorney Joel Mathew DeVore, disbarred in 2020, was indicted in Multnomah County Circuit Court this Wednesday, charged with two counts each of Identity Theft and Simulation of Legal Process, both class C felonies. A warrant for DeVore’s arrest was signed by Judge Cheryl Albrecht on the same day, and remains active.
The fraudulent documents central to the case were allegedly created by DeVore in a legal matter he was handling; and he seemingly created them to get his client, Jessica Mozeico, off of his back. The fraudulent documents include a declaration of service and a court judgment.
The victims whose identities were stolen are Portland process server Desiree White and Multnomah County Circuit Court Judge Patricia L. McGuire. Ms. White was a witness before the Grand Jury, but stated that she had no comment for this article.
DeVore is the son of a well-respected Oregon Court of Appeals judge, The Honorable Joel DeVore, who was reelected in 2020.
The younger DeVore’s indictment sends a strong message that nobody is above the law, not even attorneys — a message that has not always been clear in Oregon. This is especially true in cases in which attorneys had already been sanctioned for ethics violations by their licensor, the Oregon State Bar. That is to say, suspension or disbarment may be the consequence of an attorney’s criminal conduct, but that consequence is in no way a substitute for actual punishment administered within the criminal justice system. The bar exists to protect the public from unethical attorneys, not determine when an attorney is done paying for his crimes.
Unfortunately, the bar’s handling of the 2019 ethics complaint that was filed against DeVore did not protect the public: The bar failed to immediately suspend him when they first knew of the forgeries (or suspend him period), and it would take over a year to disbar him, even as he failed to cooperate with or respond to their investigation.
Worse, after DeVore’s disbarment, the bar neglected to report the alleged crimes to law enforcement, an actual duty of the bar under its own bylaws.
Tell the Oregon State Bar that you expect them to do a better job of protecting the public from unethical and criminal attorneys; and tip your hat to the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office for taking attorney-committed crime seriously.