Unequal Protection

Private influence and regulatory theater at the Oregon State Bar

Attorney Andrew Long under the Bar’s magnifying glass.

Personal problems, powerful interests

On their own website it clearly states that the Bar “generally does not investigate matters that arise in a lawyer’s personal life, such as disputes with neighbors, creditors or spouses.”

Therefore, it strongly appeared that the Oregon State Bar had materialized solely at Vanessa Sturgeon’s beckoning.

Even more disturbing, on the last day of the eviction trial, the Bar informed Long that they would seek his immediate suspension.

Since that moment, Long has been thwarted from deposing Sturgeon by both the Bar and the courts, where she clearly wields considerable influence. But he has learned that Sturgeon was personally in contact with his wife’s custody lawyer at that time, feeding her false information and shrieking, once again, about an imaginary threat of danger.

From bad to worse

At the time of his eviction, Long had just learned that Roach and his then-office assistant Morgana Alderman had been communicating with his wife to arm her with information to use against Long in their custody fight. In texts Long later obtained, Roach referred to the women’s conspiratorial scheming as a “secret alliance” and said that it might be “entertaining” to watch Long “waste all the rest of his money” fighting the eviction case. Roach further posited that his wife “might be home free” in the custody case because of it.

Vanessa Sturgeon and staff literally lobbying Portland Police to arrest Andrew Long

But it wasn’t just any weekend, as Sturgeon made clear that she knew in an interview with Pamplin’s reporter.

On Monday morning, Long was supposed to be in Florida to oppose his wife’s motion to suspend his visitation with his kids, which was based mainly on — and yet filed on the exact same day as — the Bar’s petition for his suspension.

Now broke, Long was assigned a public defender. But shortly thereafter, a new public defender substituted into his case: the son of a former mayoral candidate whose campaign had allegedly received illegal donations for which Sturgeon had been charged with a felony. That case had quietly disappeared without trial even after an Oregon Supreme Court opinion reinstated it.

Interim suspension

It’s important to remember the timing of this mess: The Bar thrust Long into the spotlight in fall 2017, at the very height of the #MeToo movement, which, coincidentally, was the nadir of due process.

In plain English: Now-former Chief Justice Thomas Balmer suspended Long for truthfully telling a disgusting human being that she was disgusting.

The very next day, December 21, 2017, Portland attorney Erik Graeff drove black out drunk across town and fired six shots into a colleague’s office, narrowly missing the head of a worker inside.

Custodianship over a law practice

Just two days after Long was interim suspended, and with little warning, the Bar petitioned the court for custodianship over his law practice under a seldom-used statute generally reserved for dead, jailed, or formally disciplined attorneys.

Essentially, Williams, a felon, said that a friend told her that Long stole her money.

That friend, coincidentally, was unavailable for trial because he was evading a warrant related to his conviction for stealing $25,000 from someone else.

The Bar didn’t cut Williams a check until just after she testified in June 2019, despite having approved her claim for payment months earlier. Apparently, the Bar wanted to be sure they got their money’s worth before Hollister signed the check.

Credible allegations of forgery by an attorney are supposed to be grounds for immediate suspension, according to the Oregon Supreme Court. Yet the Bar did almost nothing for over four months, while Deveny blew off their inquiry letters and the Bar blew off their duty to protect the public.

The Bar even failed to alert the other licensee in Lori’s household, Robert Deveny, that his wife was probably a forger, a thief, and a fraud, and was avoiding their very important calls.

Robert committed suicide — according to Lori, the sole witness — on March 12, 2018.

The Bar wrote a petition to suspend Deveny two weeks later. She finally responded and attempted to gain sympathy by invoking Robert’s death. The Bar then allowed Deveny to stipulate to the suspension and dictate her own favorable terms.

Unfortunately for her clients, the Bar gave Deveny a two week heads up about the petition.

And rather than kick her door down with sheriff deputies in tow as they had done with Long, the Bar instead allowed Deveny to casually bring over cherrypicked files now and then, and only when it suited her interests.

Deveny tactically withheld certain files for years, and may even now still be withholding some.

The Bar’s dishonest filings in their custodianship case reveal that their actions were not intended to protect the public, as the custodianship statute was designed for, but to protect Deveny from legal consequences by laundering her files through their own office and sheltering evidence there.

Lori Deveny’s name was nowhere to be found in Amber Hollister’s dishonest article, despite Hollister’s personal knowledge that 26 CSF claims were presently pending against Deveny, amounting to nearly $2 million in stolen client funds.

The same year that she calculatingly used Long to distract from Deveny, Hollister was the current President of Oregon Women Lawyers. It was under her watch that Deveny’s name was discretely removed from the list of past presidents on the Oregon Women Lawyer’s website.

A Supreme failure

All of the false charges that the Bar used to suspend Long in late 2017 simply evaporated, like the thin gruel they were.² According to plan, they were replaced with a new set of false charges that the Bar mined from his files after they seized his practice.

Cournoyer stated, “The bar intends to… see what we can do about getting [Long] disbarred.”

And that’s precisely what they did. The Bar decided to disbar Long, then set about finding ways to do it.

Long, his girlfriend, and a client who testified on his behalf all recall how strange it seemed to them, at that February 2018 hearing, when they saw Sturgeon, an allegedly busy and important businesswoman, sitting in the front row and staring vigilantly at the Bar’s supposedly neutral judge for nearly two full business days, more than any other person not required to be there. Why would a person’s landlord spend such a large chunk of time at a hearing in which she was not a witness?

Long states, “What really troubles me about the Oregon Supreme Court’s opinion is that nothing in it suggests that the author had ever read my briefs. I pointed this out in a motion to reconsider, which I also have no reason to believe was actually read.”

That’s not acceptable in any case, but particularly when someone’s very life and liberty are at stake. And while the Oregon State Bar may be precisely the regulatory agency that its apathetic or oblivious licensees deserve, the public requires better.

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store