Jean Stacey of SLEEPS, Safe Legally Entitled Emergency Places to Sleep, filed Oregon State Bar complaints against County Counsel Stephen Dingle and former county administrator Liane Richardson in regard to testimony they gave Aug. 19 in the cases against Alley Valkyrie and 21 SLEEPS protesters in the Free Speech Plaza that were later dismissed. The Lane County Commission is currently discussing making changes to the “free speech area” of the Wayne Morse Terrace, as the county is now calling it.
Stacey’s Sept. 2 complaints allege both attorneys perjured themselves under oath: Richardson perjured herself when she testified about the feces she and a Lane County sheriff smelled in the plaza prior to enacting a closure order, but the sheriff testified he smelled the feces 48 hours after the closure order. A deputy from the sheriff’s work crew also testified no feces were found or smelled on cleanup after the plaza was closed.
The bar complaint against Dingle alleges he should have recused himself from the investigation into Richardson’s pay issues that led to her firing because of his entanglement in pay raise issues, and it mentions an alleged “romantic relationship” between Dingle and Richardson. The complaint alleges Dingle perjured himself when he said Stacey, “falsely testified that I came to the county administration office very confused, waving a checkbook around and insisting that I wanted to ‘pay’ for a permit to use Free Speech Plaza.” Stacey does not own a checkbook, she says, and “both my sworn testimony and the county receptionist’s sworn testimony contradict Mr. Dingle’s sworn testimony.” She writes, “It is of grave concern to me that Mr. Dingle would perjure himself over such a trivial matter and leads me to be considerably more concerned about his integrity as a lawyer in the state of Oregon and as the chief counsel for Lane County.”
The Eugene Municipal Court judge later found the feces-based closure order was unconstitutional.
Lane County said in a statement that any member of the community can file a complaint with the state bar and that “we believe this complaint is baseless and the innuendo, libelous.” The county says that under Oregon law any lawyer, including the judge in the case referenced in Stacey’s complaint “must report a lawyer who is operating in an unethical manner” and none of the lawyers involved have filed a bar complaint against Dingle.
The Lane County statement in full says: "Any member of the community can file a complaint with the state bar at any point. Most complaints go nowhere. We believe this complaint is baseless and the innuendo, libelous. Lawyers and judges are held to a higher standard than community members and are required to file a complaint under Rule 8.3, in the Oregon Rules of Professional Conduct. This rule states that any lawyer, including the judge in the case referenced by Ms. Stacey, must report a lawyer who is operating in an unethical manner. To our knowledge, none of the five lawyers involved in this issue, filed a bar complaint against Mr. Dingle. So while Ms. Stacey has filed something with the Oregon Bar, we believe it is baseless in its far-reaching complaint against Mr. Dingle."