In the Matter of Andrew Long
*** Update: The disciplinary case against Long was remanded by the Oregon Supreme Court back to the Bar, because of the their violation of Long’s due process rights, concluding that he “did not receive a fair hearing” because “Long in effect received no hearing at all.”
**For the latest on Andrew Long’s saga, see my most recent article, Unequal Protection: Private influence and regulatory theater at the Oregon State Bar.***
Recently, I delved into the bloated Oregon State Bar (OSB) disciplinary file of their licensee, attorney Andrew Long of Portland. At the time I ordered it, in June 2018, Long was facing fourteen open prosecution cases, nine “new matters” and one “open complaint” that had walked in the door just a week earlier. That’s an unusually high number.
At that time, my own relationship to the Bar was as a mild to moderate irritant, trying to get the bottom of what had happened in the matter of another Oregon attorney, Megan M. Perry. Perry, who had been under sixteen separate complaints¹ of her own, all of which had reached the OSB’s Disciplinary Counsel Office (DCO), had recently abandoned her Willamette University legal education and scanty four years of practice rather than contest the allegations against her, which included forgery of court orders and other documents.
The Bar actually seemed briefly excited by the prospect that someone other than the usual local media was exploring Long’s alleged misconduct. They correctly understood that I was using his file to contrast their breathless and relentless white-Bronco-chase coverage of Long against their ‘possums-n-tumbleweeds campaign of silence in the matter of Perry. Even though I was annoying them, it seemed as though they’d tolerate it to advance awareness of Long.
Then, starting in late July, the OSB’s attitude towards me went from cool but helpful to growing alarm, as I caught one of their employees in a lie and dared to write about it — an experience that clearly they had never been subjected to. Attorneys, as officers of the court, are accustomed to their word being accepted as true. OSB employees seem to think of their word as being worth even more, like the gold-standard of truth… even, apparently, when they are actually lying.
The next piece I wrote, which contrasted Long and Perry in a way that likely caught them off guard, caused the OSB’s alarm to increase exponentially. Two more pieces quickly followed, combined with an appeal to Oregon’s Attorney General (AG) regarding a fee waiver for my public records requests.
Ultimately, the OSB had to resort to falsehoods, exaggerations, over-charging for public records requests, mischaracterizations, and ad hominem attacks in their near-hysterical efforts to get me off their case. The OSB’s General Counsel, Amber Hollister, wrote pages of material about me in their attempt to prevent the release of thousands of pages of records at a reasonable cost.
Basically, I was doing too good a job at shining a disinfecting light on the Bar’s own conduct in the very different matters of Perry and Long, and I needed to be slowed down considerably.
This was particularly true in Long’s case, which was built on a very unstable foundation of perjury; held together by the absolute absence of due process; and topped with the cherry of a myth that this spectacle was somehow protecting the public.
In fact, it was literally the opposite of protecting the public.
Instead, it seemed to be benefitting a small handful of people and concurrently destroying many of Long’s clients and their cases. To put it very plainly, someone at — or aligned with — the Oregon State Bar developed an unhealthy obsession with Long, for some reason, and decided to extinguish him. There is no other way to describe it.
When I first got a good look at Long’s file, sent by the Bar, it was the legal equivalent of pimento loaf: a turgid mess of documents with crooked scans of scribbled-upon envelopes providing filler to the low-quality meat. It was deliberately unappetizing, yet stuffed with tantalizingly glistening clues that only the strongest of stomach would care to pick out, let alone eat.
The material that Long himself forwarded me last month furthered my understanding of his matter as something into which extraordinary amounts of resources, energy, and paper were being funneled. And with every additional filing and counter-filing, exhibits were attached and reattached, causing the file to distend grotesquely, trebling and even tribbling in size.²
This is easily recognized as one of the cheapest moves in those playbooks heavily-thumbed by malignant types and garden-variety victimizers: stuffing a file so full of material and documents and third-generation Xeroxes spilling out that it becomes overwhelmingly unapproachable to those tasked with making sense of the mess: the first few pages are skimmed, eyes glaze over, and the mess is rubber-stamped with “headache” and “thumbs up” emojis.
As recently as July 2017, the DCO was handling four fairly average complaints against Long in their usual unhurried manner. If proven, the matters were sanctionable, but not career-ending. There seemed to be no urgency by the DCO, and certainly no signs that the OSB thought of him as a ticking time bomb.
Then, in early fall 2017, all hell broke loose. A convoluted ball of wax emerged regarding Long; his ex-wife, Amy (and their divorce and kids); his friend, Laura Roach; his ex-employee, Morgana Alderman; and his landlord, real estate mogul Vanessa Sturgeon. Two of the attorneys involved in the mess — Beth Creighton and Bonnie Richardson –provided the OSB with a whole lot of text and emails that Long sent to Alderman and Roach, causing the DCO to commence an investigation under Creighton’s name.
This mess rolled in and out of courtrooms and the DCO like a bar fight, trailing documents, affidavits, stalking orders, and even rape accusations unrelated to any actual proceedings and unreported to any actual authorities.
Then, starting in early October, Nick Budnick of the Portland Tribune penned what could best be described as the opposite of a think piece about an eviction proceeding against Long. His eviction from Sturgeon’s building was initiated solely on an allegation of violence by Long against Roach, which was also curiously unreported to any actual authorities.
Because that’s who I go to if someone hits me: my landlord.
Budnick’s article showed a giddy and breezy familiarity with the eviction case, Long’s divorce and custody case, and his prior disciplinary problems. Budnick quoted both Richardson and Creighton in the article. Their quotes are borderline defamatory.
It is indescribably difficult to write about this mess in an article of this size, in any coherent fashion.
It is best left to Long himself, who wrote a ten-page letter to Assistant Disciplinary Counsel Susan Cournoyer while in the thick of it in October 2017. The Tribune published this letter on the very same day that Cournoyer received it.
It is very credible, and typos notwithstanding, I believe Andrew Long.
Since first reading his letter, I have spoken with him at length, and I continue to believe Andrew Long. His story is consistent: he is the victim of traumatic domestic violence. Long also appears to be a victim of ongoing efforts by his ex-wife and others to discredit him personally and professionally.
On November 3, 2017, Nik T. Chourey of the DCO filed a Petition for Suspension During Pendency of Disciplinary Proceedings with the Supreme Court. In the 291-page document, the Bar rehashed Long’s original four matters, which were hastily approved for prosecution in mid-October; but the Bar also included new allegations based on Creighton’s complaint, which drew almost exclusively on allegations by — or on Long’s writing to — Alderman and Roach.
Chourey moved the Court to suspend Long immediately, stating that his continued “practice of law during the pendency of disciplinary proceedings will, or is likely to, result in substantial harm to his clients and the public at large.”
Again, this petition for a suspension to protect the public was based on Long’s alleged conduct towards a former friend and former employee.
Why yes, this is the same Bar that doesn’t usually deal with personal matters!
The Petition was lavishly exhibited with quotes from the numerous texts and emails that Long had sent them. Those cherry-picked texts and emails were specifically chosen to portray Long as a blood-obsessed caricature of a sadist or rapist… but also for his frequent use of the c-word. #EEK!!
By way of explaining these text and emails, Long claims to have found evidence that Alderman and Roach created a “secret alliance” (Roach’s term) with his ex-wife. He saw this alliance as the absolute worst kind of betrayal once he realized that his ex had set the final trial in their prolonged divorce to occur just after the allegations by Roach and Alderman had surfaced. His reaction, for better or worse, was to write to them incessantly, demanding an explanation and even a chance to talk with them about what was going on, and yes, to be angry at them for their betrayal.
Personally, I don’t see that as very interesting or shocking, or his texts as a whole as threatening. To me, they are indicative of the poorly understood “daddy grizzly” that emerges when a predator or other threat gets between a parent and his kids. It’s incredible to me that people think of the strong urge to protect children as a strictly female attribute.³
A few days after the Petition was filed, it was followed by a press release reiterating the OSB’s concern of “substantial threat of public harm,” due to “harassment and threats of violence against several individuals.”
The OSB seemed to have difficulty separating words from actions, and differentiating employees from the general public.
Long was not served with the petition for approximately two weeks. He first learned of it through a reporter asking for comment on it and the press release.
Meanwhile, at roughly the same time, the OSB was busy ignoring the conduct of another Portland attorney, Erik Graeff, who actually did pose a “substantial threat of public harm” due to threats and actual acts of violence against several people.
Incredibly — despite allegedly shooting up another attorney’s office, threatening violence in two matters, committing violence in a third, and possibly having a home meth lab in his basement — Graeff remains licensed by the Oregon State Bar. Apparently, the Bar doesn’t deal with actual authorities who are actually looking into actual incidents.
The Tribune got a few more salacious articles out of this mess, written in the lurching prose of someone checking off all the points that they were told to hit. Very importantly, the pieces were going off at exactly the same time that the #MeToo movement hit full-stride. Timing is everything!
The OSB got their interim suspension, and with it, they physically overtook Long’s practice, collecting all his client files and IOLTA trust account. Shortly thereafter, in early 2018, Cournoyer sent out a mass-mailing to all of Long’s clients.
It was essentially the ringing of the dinner bell… a call for people to come file complaints and/or claims with the Client Security Fund (CSF).
The CSF is essentially an attorney-funded slushy to cover the unethical conduct of Oregon attorneys that is not covered by their mandatory malpractice insurance.
Unsurprisingly, six new ethics complaints came rolling in in the first three months of 2018, and another three after that. As of early 2018, ten CSF claims had come in as well, totaling nearly $51,000 in money allegedly lost due to Long’s alleged misconduct.
CSF claims are generally filed in conjunction with or after a bar complaint, not before it; and CSF claims are not paid out until there is a finding of misconduct and/or loss. Yet only four of those CSF claimants initiated ethics complaints as well. Talk about putting the cart before the horse. One might even say that the appearance is that the OSB solicited and possibly dangled the promise of payment for testimony against Long. Two of these CSF claimants stated on their paperwork that they first discovered their loss when Cournoyer had somehow informed them of it.
Many of the new complaints were due directly to the seeming disappearance of Long when stuff started going down, and then the complete work stoppage that occurred when his license was suspended: no license = Long could not legally do work in their matters.
Now, in order to get his license back and keep it, Long had to credibly address the fifteen open complaints,⁴ and do so quickly, according to the Bar’s relentless timeline.
Dealing with one bar complaint is a lot of work on all sides. Complainants and attorneys alike have to write concisely and credibly, and provide exhibits that support their claims. You must set aside hours and even days to deal with these. And unless you’re politically [cough REGULATORY CAPTURE cough] connected, you don’t get to just half-ass your answers and say “EVIDENCE!1!!” in lieu of providing actual evidence.
Dealing with fifteen complaints became Long’s full time, non-paying job… and once combined with his interests in dealing with withheld parenting time, disproving false allegations lobbed at him, managing his ADHD, and getting a divorce from an abuser, Long pretty much only had free time enough remaining to work on his yacht-racing and panda-breeding.
Even under perfectly fair conditions, the seemingly insurmountable feat of timely answering fifteen bar complaints is difficult… maybe not even humanly possible due to the constraints of time and space.
But to handicap Long further, the OSB had denied and was denying Long his due process.
Now, this is a reeeeally ugly look for a state that doesn’t believe in having its own due process clauses like other states do — but likes to pretend that it does, whilst cribbing off of the federal gubamint’s [grumble grumble] fourteenth amendment… and only when pressed.⁵
To those unfamiliar with the concept of “due process,” which is not as set in stone as one would hope, it represents the protections that Americans expect if they are charged with doing something for which they can be penalized. The application of due process in attorney disciplinary matters is looser than the requirements for criminal cases, but it does exist.
Repeatedly, throughout Long’s matter, DCO lurched between the outdated Bar rules that govern disciplinary proceedings and the updated ones, with the carefree insouciance of people confident in the knowledge that the outcome was fixed. This was no small point, as the new Bar rules suggested a higher hurdle that the Bar had failed to clear.
Long also consistently faced decision-makers essentially selected by his accusers, such as the Special Master⁶ and Adjudicator — whom Long alleges were biased — who decided every pre-trial motion as the Bar requested for the duration of his case.
Most problematically, Long was not able to cross-examine his main accusers, Alderman and Roach, and instead had to contend with the testimony of their attorneys, Creighton and Richardson.
Both of these attorneys were opposing counsel in trial court cases against Long, personally, and the Bar was having them stand in for their clients to testify in his suspension hearing. This prevented Long from challenging their allegations in any meaningful way.
Moreover, Long was not served with the suspension petition until after there was a press release issued warning the public of the danger he allegedly posed. So, despite their being numerous opportunities to try Long in actual court, Long was instead tried in the court of public opinion, repeatedly and continuously, via the salacious and tabloidy sharticles that Budnick was constantly dropping.
The involvement and manipulation of the media could best be described as improper at that point.
Because of this due process vacuum and more — really, this is just the tip — and compounded by a sudden and violent illness at the end of the first day of his disciplinary trial (which caused him to miss the start of the second day), a default was declared on August 27, 2018. No default under these circumstances has ever happened in Oregon until now.
Andrew Long has petitioned to have it set aside.
Let’s rewind for a second and say Andrew Long did hit someone.
What should happen next is that the victim calls the police and presses charges. Then there’s a trial with evidence and witnesses. If convicted, maybe Long gets evicted due to some clause in his lease. Maybe he spends a little time in jail, but not likely if it was his first offense. Maybe he ends up with a restraining order against him. If convicted, the Bar could start an investigation or initiate proceedings against him, and he could contest those charges, and he gets his due process and etc. etc. and he moves on with his life.
What doesn’t happen is the absolute tsunami of events and vaporization of due process that happened to Long after he allegedly hit his friend.
In his own words, in addition to losing his livelihood and career that he loved, Andrew Long also lost his home, his car, his money, his kids, and “virtually all social connection” due to this entire shameful debacle.
That is simply not how it’s supposed to work. Despite some people’s insistence that it should be how it works, and their perpetuation of the appearance that it is working that way, it is not how it works.
I remain disturbed at the way Andrew Long has been treated throughout this mess. I am appalled by the clear attitude exhibited in Oregon in Long’s case — and in my own family’s case, too — that due process is for everyone else and that domestic violence against men is a punchline, or worse: a complete myth.
¹ Including one from my own family.
² Star Trek joke!
³ But maybe it’s just because I’m not sexist or stupid.
⁴ The final one was $22,000 of parking tickets which the OSB converted into moral turpitude.
⁵ Grotesque over-simplification of the situation.
⁶ The Special Master, Richard Baldwin, was appointed to conduct a hearing and write a report regarding Long’s suspension.