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Editor’s Note: On Sept. 15, “An Oregon Murder: A New Book Brings Back Courtroom Memories,” by Joshua Marquis, appeared on this page. Marquis, an Oregon prosecutor, discussed a new book by Gerry Spence, the noted trial lawyer and author, about the trials of a son and mother for a murder committed in rural Lincoln County, Ore., 18 years ago. Marquis recounted his recollections of the trials, the media attention and the disciplinary complaints that grew out of the cases. Marquis and Spence clashed back then and they continue to disagree about the meaning and fairness of the events of those days. Now, Spence responds. Reading Joshua Marquis’ rant and rancor about my new book, The Smoking Gun, one wonders why he cannot let loose of this case. He tried a 15-year-old boy, Mike Jones Jr., for murder before a juvenile court. The boy was trying to protect his mother from a man who had previously fired his rifle in the direction of the boy and his little sister, had run down the boy’s father with a pickup truck and (said the children) had tried to poison the family by throwing a dead raccoon into their cistern, and had unsuccessfully filed criminal charges against the boy’s parents for various petty misdemeanors. This was a man who, through endless harangue and harassment, was attempting to force a supposed county road through the Jones’ property to serve his subdivision-eventually denied by the courts. A juvenile judge without a jury convicted the boy of manslaughter (not murder as charged by the state) and, on appeal, the child was acquitted of even that charge. This is where Marquis’ case should have ended. The Smoking Gun is not about Marquis, nor about me, nor those Marquis sullies in the passing. The book is about the insurmountable hurdles that ordinary people face in nearly every criminal case, of the monstrous power of the state and of zealous prosecutors who are successful in convicting, in one way or another, more than 90% of those they charge, guilty or innocent. The book exposes the myth of liberty and justice for all, and if you want to experience the hell of defending yourself against the likes of those who took after the Joneses, take a look at the book. And now for Marquis-who hangs onto this case like a snapping turtle-casting himself as the lonely baby prosecutor who took on this Goliath of half-truths, wild stories and buttered-up judges. One wonders what’s in it for him other than his boasting over and over that he beat Gerry Spence-at least until the Oregon Court of Appeals could take a look at his case. Still, a few facts may be of interest here, if facts are finally permissible in this deliberation. The juvenile court judge before whom Marquis prosecuted the case had decided not only to convict the boy, but to sit on the mother’s case as well. We wondered how a judge who had wrongfully concluded that a boy was guilty of manslaughter could fairly sit on the case of the boy’s mother, Sandy Jones, for the same alleged murder. We took that issue to the Court of Appeals, which ordered that judge off the case. Judge Harl Haas from Portland was then appointed. Then we asked Judge Haas to remove the Lincoln County prosecutor’s office, headed by District Attorney Ulys Stapleton (and which included Marquis) from the case for a variety of causes, including harmful statements made by the district attorney to the press, statements intended to discourage me from representing Sandy Jones. In a moment of candor, the district attorney admitted that my absence from the case might make it easier to convict Sandy. At the outset, Judge Haas tried to bring the war between counsel to an end. He said: “I think the [DA's] publication of the statements concerning ethics and disbarment was a substantial error of judgment. I am fearful that the question concerning this lady’s innocence or guilt is going to get lost in the smoke of the cross-fire between the prosecution and the defense. It seems to me that the danger that this talk of disbarment and unethical conduct represents is that [she] cannot receive a fair trial.” When the judge removed the Lincoln County prosecutor’s office from the case, Marquis jumped up and wanted to know if the judge’s order excluded him from participation. Marquis said, “Just so I understand, Your Honor,” -and he was as pale as a turnip-”you said you were going to reserve the ruling on the issue of my participation?” “Yes,” the judge replied. “I want to think about it. But I’ll give you a ruling tomorrow morning.” “Before we proceed with other matters?” Marquis pressed on. “Yes.” “Our position is going to be-whether we would go along and agree with the court’s ruling and not contest it in any way-depends to some degree on whether I’m going to be excluded from participation in the case. This all can happen prior to . . . .” At that point, I saw Judge Haas sit straight up and stiffen. “Is that a threat, Counsel?” I asked. “You know, why tell me that?” the judge asked Marquis. “I don’t have any problem if you want to appeal it. Appeal it!” The next morning, Judge Haas ruled Marquis and all of the Lincoln County prosecutor’s office out of the case. Still, over the years, Marquis continued to insert himself into the Sandy Jones trial. On one occasion, with District Attorney Stapleton on the stand, I asked, “Did you know that Mr. Marquis wanted this case returned to Lincoln County so he could prosecute it?” He answered, “I believe he’d like to prosecute it, especially if you’re the defense attorney.” This war between counsel couldn’t be brought to an end, not by the removal of those prosecutors from the case, not after the judge ordered Marquis into court concerning his continued intrusions into the case, not even after Sandy Jones was acquitted. And after that, the Oregon bar went on wrestling with charges brought by Marquis against Judge Haas, Michele Longo and me for two more years before the charges were finally dismissed. Sadly, the war continues with his latest foray in NLJ’s pages and other newspapers. The eternal life of this vendetta remains an oddity as is Marquis’ claimed authority on the case, since he didn’t attend Sandy Jones’ trial. But what is clear is the man’s ability to fiddle with the language. Take for instance his intimation that something must be awry because I dedicated The Smoking Gun to Judge Haas (and to Michele Longo as well). I wrote, “To Judge Harl Haas, a role model for every judge, who at great personal cost proved once again that he cared more about justice than judicial efficiency, more about a fair trial than the power of his judgeship.” I stand by it. A pity we can’t acknowledge outstanding judges without suffering gratuitous shoddy innuendos; Marquis shows his extraordinary half-truthmanship when he says that the judge “was so enamored of Spence that he later became a visitor to Spence’s Wyoming ranch.” The judge has been invited to my ranch on several occasions where we conduct the New Judicial College, open to all judges and attended by judges of many states as well as the federal judiciary. On occasion, he has been a valued member of the staff. But enough of this. The book is based on the actual day-by-day record of the trial. The case and the book speak for themselves, in ways I hope will bring a better understanding of our criminal justice system. My hope for Marquis is that he can somehow put this case behind him and go on from here applying his considerable talents to the common good. As an epilogue, consider: Recently, an Oregon court ruled that there never had been a county road across the Jones property; Mike Jones Sr. died of a heart attack attempting to save a drowning person in the Siletz River; and Little Mike, now a man, stays on the family farm with his mother and remains, as he always was, a law-abiding citizen.

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