Welcome to the Comment of the Week, where we highlight good comments in order to inspire more of them. You can help us choose our next one by replying with “comment of the week” to any comment you think deserves recognition. Please note: These selections are not endorsements.
Last week’s article about a witness who was nearly hit by an alleged car thief who drove recklessly on the Springwater Corridor path engendered a lively discussion in the comments section. Several commenters wanted to know how someone with such a long rap sheet could be caught yet again, only to be released while awaiting trial. Isn’t someone with this history of run-ins with the law considered dangerous? One reader decided to try to get to the bottom of it, and he did the unthinkable.
Joseph E. jumped out of the bowl!
He sent an email to the DA’s office “expressing my concern about the release of the suspect too soon,” and he got a response.
But Joseph E. didn’t stop after receiving a response, no, he sent followup questions — and the DA’s office responded to them too! The DA’s office answers (which came from former executive director of The Street Trust, Jillian Detweiler who now works for DA Mike Schmidt) are informative, and serve to move the conversation forward, but they are not the final word on this complicated issue. If you are interested in delving further, two topical BikePortland interviews from a couple of years ago can be found at the in the related posts section at the bottom of this article.
Here is the exchange between Joseph E. and the DA’s office:
I wrote the District Attorney an email expressing my concern about the release of the suspect to soon and they responded:
Thank you for your email. The Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office share your concern for the very dangerous behavior Lucas Lujan is alleged to have committed. Pretrial detention is determined by the courts, not the district attorney. I am attaching the Presiding Judge Order that governs pretrial release in Multnomah County. It’s a complex matrix and I share it to demonstrate the complexity. Our records indicate Lujan is not being held in jail, but he is being supervised rather than released on his own recognizance. MCDA will do what it can to bring this case to a speedy resolution. However, the defendant will be represented and the defense may not view a speedy resolution as being in the defendant’s best interest. That, along with a case backlog, can drag out the process. Again, thanks for your email and concern for preserving the safety of folks using the Springwater Corridor. Regards, Jillian Detweiler (she/her) Executive Assistant to Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt
This was the attached document from Judge Judith Matarazzo:
My email reply to the above:
1) What does it mean in this case that “he is being supervised rather than released on his own recognizance.”
Does Mr L. have a known address? Were his prior attempts to evade officers not considered by the DA and Judge?
2) Did the DA write anything in opposition to the Judge’s order, or was your office in agreement with the guidelines?
3) The current standards do not appear to be working to prevent repeat vehicle thefts. Can the policy be changed by the judge or the DA, or is a change in the law required?
The DA office response:
1) Pretrial supervision is provided by: https://www.multco.us/dcj-adult/specialized-programs/pretrial-services-program-psp2) The Presiding Judge has the authority to determine pretrial detention standards. It was not a negotiation with the DA. 3) There is likely some room for the Presiding Judge to modify the order but significant change probably would require a change in laws and the state and U.S. constitution. Jillian Detweiler