No Lie: Oregon Law Halts Undercover Operations 

No Lie: Oregon Law Halts Undercover Operations 
Posted by FoM on July 30, 2001 at 09:31:32 PT
By Kim Murphy, Los Angeles Times
Source: Seattle Times
If you're a federal agent in Oregon these days, the law requires you to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth  even when you're working undercover. And that has brought major law-enforcement operations all over the state to a virtual standstill. "I am a drug cop; please sell me some heroin. That's literally what's required," explains Joshua Marquis, the Clatsop County district attorney. 
A sweeping ruling last year by the state Supreme Court mandated that all lawyers  even government prosecutors overseeing organized crime and narcotics cases and state investigators conducting consumer-fraud and housing-discrimination probes  must abide by the Oregon state bar's strictures against dishonesty, fraud, deceit and misrepresentation. Under the court's interpretation, a prosecutor who encourages an undercover officer or an informant to lie or misrepresent himself could lose his license to practice law. The provision has been most problematic for federal prosecutors, who typically have a much more intense day-to-day role in overseeing major investigations conducted by the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to ensure they comply with complex provisions of federal law. As a result, the state attorney general's office, the FBI and the DEA have halted virtually all big undercover operations, and local police agencies have canceled most covert operations in drug cases that could end up in federal court. "People in this state are not receiving the protection they're entitled to," said Philip Donohue, acting special agent in charge of the FBI office in Portland. "This has impacted a substantial amount of the criminal work that would ordinarily be done within the state of Oregon." Lawyers for the state bar have met repeatedly in recent months in an attempt to craft a way around the restriction, perhaps by exempting government prosecutors. But they have run into deep philosophical divisions over the role of lawyers in overseeing covert probes  and whether modern law enforcement is simply relying too heavily on trickery and misrepresentation. Because no one really wants to halt police-undercover work, "It sounds like there should be a very simple solution," said Ed Herden, president of the state bar and a Portland lawyer. "Everyone agrees that lawyers should not misrepresent themselves as something other than what they are. But (with the restrictions in place) ... how do we provide the police with meaningful advice as to how to act in a legal manner?" The dilemma began with a private attorney who, seeking to gain information for a civil lawsuit in an insurance case, conducted his own sting operation and made phone calls in which he represented himself as a doctor. The Oregon Supreme Court last August found that the lawyer had engaged in dishonest conduct in violation of state bar rules. The court also ruled that the ethics code does not contain exceptions for government lawyers overseeing legal law-enforcement operations. Although the Justice Department always has required its lawyers to abide by individual states' legal ethics rules, a controversial federal law passed in 1999 known as the McDade law makes it explicit, legally requiring federal prosecutors to abide by all state bar ethics rules. As a result, the U.S. attorney in Oregon, Mike Mosman, has pulled his lawyers out of undercover operations. And the FBI has suspended a child-pornography investigation developed by undercover agents and halted the use of cooperating witnesses in at least two major drug cases, three extortion cases and a major white-collar crime investigation. Local district attorneys do not have the McDade law holding their feet to the fire. But most police agencies prefer to have a prosecutor overseeing complex investigations. "The federal agencies are now not willing to look at our cases if they involve any kind of undercover activity," said Lt. Gary Stafford of the Portland Police Bureau's drug and vice division. "That kind of puts a big roadblock in our way as far as taking down any of the substantial quantity dealers that should be prosecuted federally." Earlier this month, according to Stafford, federal prosecutors rejected a major case involving "club" drugs, such as Ecstasy, because it involved undercover operations and confidential informants. The state bar attempted one fix, an amendment to the ethics rules that exempted lawyers who are conducting or supervising operations involving "legal covert activity"  as long as they didn't participate in the operations. The Supreme Court in April rejected that policy as too broad, so the state bar's board of governors is trying to draft another amendment. The problem is, many lawyers, especially defense lawyers, think that undercover operations have gone too far and that government prosecutors are taking too big a role in conducting them. Source: Seattle Times (WA)Author: Kim MurphyPublished: Monday, July 30, 2001 Copyright: 2001 The Seattle Times CompanyContact: opinion seatimes.comWebsite: Articles - FBI
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Comment #11 posted by freedom fighter on July 31, 2001 at 17:36:30 PT
Son of a gun!
In Colorado, they just released 300 sexual offenders...Make you wonder which state I would prefer to live now..I cannot leave the state...all becuz I grew one little plant...When they killed my plant, it had no buds...They claimed I had 4 ounces of buds..ff
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Comment #10 posted by lookinside on July 30, 2001 at 20:00:43 PT:
a more level playing field...
as others have said, it might give the cops incentive tohunt down violent criminals instead of hunting big headlinesabout busting peaceful growers of REAL policework...some police in our area are making $100k peryear...FOR WHAT?i'd also like to see ALL cops drug tested weekly...too manyof these undercover cops seem to play both sides of thestreet...when i was arrested, the police bragged to the newspapersthat i had 8 pounds of usable bud...i dunno, i didn't weighit...when the case got to court, only 4 pounds wereavailable as evidence...i wonder why?
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Comment #9 posted by jorma nash on July 30, 2001 at 15:18:20 PT
ethics? what a concept.
or, to put it another way,maintain a scrap of ethicsand persecution of victimless crimes becomes impossible.(and yes, i meant persecution, not prosecution.)
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Comment #8 posted by mayan on July 30, 2001 at 14:37:09 PT
Ever met an honest cop?
Nicely put Sam Adams. Man, you must be ancient by now! Hopefully not to old to help us fight this Amerikan Revolution!It is good that law enforcement now has to abide by some laws. Too long they have gone unchecked & hence they are corrupted to the core.
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Comment #7 posted by greenfox on July 30, 2001 at 11:03:53 PT
""People in this state are not receiving the protection they're entitled to," said Philip Donohue, acting special agent in charge of the FBI office in    Portland." translation:"People in thios state are not recieving the rapings that they are entitled to.."
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Comment #6 posted by TroutMask on July 30, 2001 at 10:48:36 PT
First no infrared detection of grow lights and now this!?!? I feel so sorry for the DEA....not.-TM
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Comment #5 posted by Sam Adams on July 30, 2001 at 10:34:40 PT
What a bummer......
Oh, the police can't just have someone lie about you and then break into your house, loot all your possessions, and throw you in jail. Poor guys, how will they do their jobs now?  Maybe they'll have to resort to actual police investigative work, like law enforcement in other civilized countries, where police are subject to the same laws as ordinary citizens.Happy to see there are some sane judges out there in Oregon. 
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Comment #4 posted by New Mexican on July 30, 2001 at 10:30:54 PT
Follow the lead!
Lets put law enforcement on notice everywhere by following this example of how to highlight the crimes involved by federal agencies in their lust for matching fed dollars (your hard earned tax dollars) for highly questionable results. Literally breaking the laws while putting others in jail for victimless crimes...thats your Amerikan government at work for you! This is great news, now let's expand this approach nationwide! C'mon ACLU, this is a precedent setting situation.
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Comment #3 posted by Doug on July 30, 2001 at 10:18:51 PT
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Comment #2 posted by Doug on July 30, 2001 at 10:17:26 PT
Boo hoo
"People in this state are not receiving the protection they're entitled to,"As a person who does live in this state, I would  say that only now are people receiving the onstitutional protections that they are entitled to. But of course the police don't see it that way -- they never do.
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Comment #1 posted by Ethan Russo, MD on July 30, 2001 at 10:17:14 PT:
Fascinating Development
Could we get truth in law enforcement as a result? It might be a nice ideal. Obviously, abuse of the system has been rampant. I have a solution to most of the problem: Stop the Drug War, and make drugs legally and safely available. No profit means no commerce, and less crime, less violence. One could argue the same for prostitution. Holland's system is again notably better than ours. Could something be done about gambling? Soon organized crime has little to support it. Surely it is time to get more creative about fighting crime. Our available police will be far more effective at fighting the murderers, rapists, predators and other perpetrators of violent crime with victims. 
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