Tampering with Public Records

Last spring, attorney Megan M. Perry resigned while under sixteen separate disciplinary investigations by the Oregon State Bar (OSB). A seventeenth complaint undergoing preliminary review waited in the wings.

Prior to this, Perry had amassed six complaints in the first few years of her brief career. Those featured allegations strikingly similar to the later complaints for which she would become notorious. All six were speedily disposed of by investigators at the OSB, without much ado or strain.

Roughly half of Perry’s total 23 complaints were custody cases with out of state parties, i.e. cases which potentially had federal implications.

In late February 2018, after a series of questions and revelations regarding her criminal conduct, Perry abruptly disbarred herself by submitting her Form B Resignation — the only way an attorney can put an end to the OSB’s scrutiny.

Less than six months after her resignation, I requested and paid for the complete record of Disciplinary Counsel Office’s (DCO) investigation of Perry.

What I received was far from complete, especially in two of Perry’s most problematic cases…

In the first, that of the Stewarts — a Linn County family involved in an interstate custody matter — the OSB failed to send me copies of the summaries and logs of numerous phone calls that DCO had exchanged with the family. The Stewarts told me that many of their calls with DCO specifically revolved around discussion of two forged documents that Perry had allegedly created and uttered in their case. Yet all of the records of those phone conversations were now conspicuously missing from their “complete” complainant file.

In the second case, that of the Harts, the OSB failed to send me several exhibits that Perry’s defense team had tendered to DCO to support their laughable explanation for yet another alleged forgery of Perry’s — a fraudulent divorce judgment. There were plenty of exhibits in the other 22 complainant files, but not in the Hart matter. What was included were the kind of phone records missing from the Stewart’s file. In the Hart file, these notes were left in, seemingly because they supported Perry’s wild tale of how the forgery ended up filed with the child support division of the DOJ.

I questioned the OSB’s spokesperson, Kateri Walsh, about the missing phone logs and exhibits, and the “demonstrably incomplete public record” for which they had charged me good money.

Walsh responded that the OSB had “a proscribed process for closing files according to [the OSB’s] retention policy,” and that the bar removed documents that could “otherwise be obtained from another source” as well as “duplicative documents.” Also removed were “client files that may raise privacy concerns” such as “dates of birth, social security numbers, and bank account numbers.”¹

My response to Walsh specifically pointed out that in the Hart case, for instance, I would not be able to easily “obtain from another source” Perry’s attorneys’ exhibits. Especially since I had no idea what they even were. I then sent Walsh another public records request asking specifically for the Stewart’s missing phone records, fully expecting for the bar to try to charge me twice for them.

Instead, Walsh responded — several weeks later — that the OSB’s search “did not indicate any records in [the OSB’s] possession responsive” to my request for the Stewart’s phone logs. Shortly thereafter, Walsh reported that the exhibits in the Hart matter “were destroyed per [the OSB’s] retention policy.”

Naturally, I replied to Walsh, requesting a copy of the OSB’s retention policy. Bizarrely, she treated my amiable email as an additional public records request — and one for which I should be charged!

This was unfathomable to me: these types of documents should’ve been available with a few clicks around the OSB’s website, just like one could do on other Oregon agencies’ sites.

The DOJ — who handles disputed records requests — quickly put an end to the OSB’s tantrums and attempted financial squeezing, and a week later the bar reluctantly provided me with their policies.

As one could have easily predicted from the Oregon State Bar’s recalcitrant behavior, nothing in the retention policy entitled “Disciplinary Process: Client Assistance Office through Supreme Court” supported any of Kateri Walsh’s claims regarding the public records that were missing from Megan Perry’s “complete disciplinary file.”

On page three of the policy, it stated that files “resulting in… Form B Resignation” were to be retained permanently.

Nowhere did it state anything about plucking out “duplicative documents,” or removing items that could “otherwise be obtained from another source.” Nowhere did it state that the “proscribed process for closing files” included anything but sliding a file cabinet drawer closed.

Permanent. The Oregon State Bar’s records retention policy said permanent.

It is virtually impossible that Kateri Walsh, of her own volition, decided to withhold these records from a member of the media, or quote non-existent passages of a retention policy, or simply invent rules of her own.

No. Walsh merely did what she was told, presumably by someone in Disciplinary Counsel’s Office or more likely General Counsel’s Office, who seems strangely accustomed to making evidence disappear.

Or maybe this mess goes up even higher up than that, with the Office of the Executive Director… I do know that accountability reaches at least that level.

Regardless, tampering with public records is a Class A misdemeanor. Even more concerning for these bad actors at the Oregon State Bar is that conspiracy to tamper with public records is also a crime.

And this most certainly is a conspiracy.

The Oregon State Bar is not supposed to lie to complainants or the media. They are not supposed to destroy or alter public records. They are not supposed to abet misconduct or criminal behavior by their coworkers or their licensees.

The Oregon State Bar is a regulatory agency which allegedly provides protection to the public. Unfortunately, the public now needs protection from them.

¹ The OSB has sent me pages of non-redacted personal information of Perry’s complainants.

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