Ginger Mooney & the Saudi Passport

Less than a week ago, an in-depth article was published about five Saudi Arabian students who had fled Oregon while facing jail time for serious offenses, including rape and the hit and run death of a fifteen year old. Four of the men fled after officials from their government paid their bail.

Besides their nationality, the only thing tying them together was that they shared an attorney, Ginger Genevieve Mooney.

This Wednesday, Mooney made a dramatic announcement: that she had temporarily closed her law office and “taken measures to protect herself,” allegedly in the face of “dozens” of “terrifying” personal threats, apparently triggered by the article.

Mooney has also hired one of the state’s top ethics attorneys, Allison Martin Rhodes of the firm Holland & Knight. According to another local professional, Rhodes mainly represents “wealthy lawyers who are in big trouble.”

Speaking from Rhodes’ office, Mooney said that while she understood the public’s outrage that the Saudi men fled while awaiting prosecution, she was astonished by the allegedly vicious reaction to her representation of them.

Mooney steadfastly denies that she abetted any of the men’s flights from justice, but neither will she discuss their cases nor disclose who paid for her services, citing the ethics of her profession.

However, it is clear that Mooney feels that she is facing an ethics investigation for her representation of the Saudi men, or she would not have hired Rhodes.

Legal ethics and bar rules are mainly related to an attorney’s duties to their client and the tribunal. There are no bar rules related to an attorney’s duty to the community they serve, or to the greater public.

Mooney is a criminal defense attorney with over 15 years of practice in Oregon. Despite her sparing online presence — unusual for attorneys in this day and age — there is much to be learned about her career and her prior ethics issues.

She is part of the Oregon Post-Conviction Consortium based in Salem, which has a contract with the state agency, the Office of Public Defense Services. It is unknown at time of writing how much of their approximate $300 million 2017–2019 budget Mooney received.

According to the article which debuted Mooney’s allegations of “vile” threats against her, she has “never faced a complaint with [the] Oregon State Bar” regarding the Saudi cases. While that may be true, in 2011, Ms. Mooney entered into a “diversion agreement” with the Bar.

OSB’s Disciplinary Counsel Office 2011 Annual Report

This type of disciplinary measure is the result of “misconduct [that] stem[s] from an apparent cause that is likely to be dealt with successfully through a remedial program.” In agreeing to this diversion, Mooney would have had to “stipulate to a set of facts” which would “be deemed true in the event the lawyer fails to comply” with the terms of the agreement.

No mention of this sanction against Mooney was listed in the OSB’s monthly Bulletin; nor is news of the sanction available on the OSB’s online directory, where they helpfully provide an attorney’s disciplinary history via drop-down box.

The broken Bar rule which prompted Mooney’s 2011 visit to remedial ethics diversion camp was RPC 1.15–1(a), (b), and (c), Safekeeping Property. Among other things, this rule states that:

“A lawyer shall hold property of clients… that is in a lawyer’s possession separate from the lawyer’s own property;” that “Other property shall be identified as such and appropriately safeguarded;” and “Complete records of such… other property shall be kept by the lawyer and shall be preserved for a period of five years after termination of the representation.”

In one of the Saudi cases, Mooney’s client, student Abdulaziz Al Duway, was charged with Rape in the First Degree and five other felony counts in Polk County Circuit Court case 14CR30024. At the direction of former Judge Sally Avera, Mooney was holding Al Duway’s passport, i.e. safekeeping his property.

Again, Mooney denies any personal criminal wrongdoing in these five Saudi Arabian men’s cases. And again, Mooney has hired herself a powerful ethics attorney.

And perhaps most interestingly, Mooney has suddenly shuttered her office.

Is this in anticipation of a visit from federal authorities? Or is this — the claims of threats against her personally — all a cover story for the fact that her office is already a crime scene, she is already a federal witness, etc.

Regardless, Ms. Mooney appears to have some reason to be terrified. Time will tell for what.

As an interesting non-aside, Rhodes did state that the Saudi cases were referred to Mooney by a “well-regarded Portland lawyer” — a very strange and deflecting non sequitur for an ethics attorney to offer.