Wednesday, October 31, 2007

State's Incompetence Keeps Snowball-ing

From Oregonian reporter Jessica Bruder's State defies court order today:

They won't let the doe go.

Oregon Department of Justice officials announced Tuesday that they will defy a court order to return Snowball to her former keepers by the end of the day today.

. . . .

On Monday, Clackamas County Circuit Judge Eve L. Miller ordered the state to return Snowball within 48 hours to Jim Filipetti and Francesca Mantei.

Stephanie Soden, a spokeswoman for the Justice Department, said the state doesn't have to comply with Miller's order because state attorneys are in the process of appealing her decision.

"By filing the notice of appeal, that entitles the Department of Fish and Wildlife to an automatic stay of the judge's order," Soden said.

I wonder if that would have worked if Filipetti had said that to ODFW officials when they came to seize Snowball and Bucky. Or any of the rest of us when presented with a court order by the State of Oregon? I doubt it. But, the State can pick and choose which laws it obeys.

The Department of Justice spokeswoman went on to decry the possibility of setting a dangerous precedent:

Miller's decision could set a dangerous precedent, she [Stephanie Soden] said.

"We believe the implications of the ruling are broader than this one specific case," she said. "We believe it has the potential to impact numerous future cases, including criminal cases in which property is in the hands of someone who is not legally entitled to have it."

In cases that a district attorney decides not to prosecute, she suggested, the ruling might compel law enforcement agencies to return stolen property to thieves.

"I think right now prosecutors face dwindling resources, and they're not able to prosecute every case that comes across their desk," she said.

I guess defying a court order isn't setting a dangerous precedent. Not to mention seizing property under the guise of using it for evidence in a criminal case and then refusing to return it. If ODFW or the Department of Justice seize your car or wallet or anything else they say they want as evidence in a criminal case and decide not to use it, I guess they can just keep it.

The State's incompetence in this matter keeps Snowball-ing. And now seems to be morphing into malfeasance. Is there anybody with any sense at the helm of government in Oregon?