HILLSBORO, Ore.- Three district attorneys—Clackamas County DA John Wentworth, Marion County DA Paige Clarkson, and Washington County DA Kevin Barton— jointly sought and were granted amicus status to appear in federal court to address an issue that has significant public safety implications in communities across Oregon.

Disability Rights Oregon and Metropolitan Public Defenders have asked a federal court to supersede Oregon law and impose new rules and restrictions to address capacity issues at the Oregon State Hospital. (Disability Rights Oregon, Metropolitan Public Defender et. al. v Patrick Allen et. al. case no. 3:02-cv-00339-MO).

The new rules and restrictions drastically reduce the amount of time the Oregon State Hospital has to evaluate and treat defendants for their mental illness so they are fit to proceed to trial. This would result in a high number of defendants who have mental health challenges and are charged with significant crimes being prematurely discharged from the state hospital and released to the community. 

The court has, for now, granted the plaintiffs’ motion to reduce the treatment time periods, but has also granted the request by local counties and district attorneys to brief the matter further. The three district attorneys are taking this unusual step because the Oregon Health Authority and Oregon State Hospital, represented by the Attorney General’s Office, have indicated they do not oppose these new rules and restrictions.

“As district attorneys representing our communities, we are very concerned about this issue,” said Washington County District Attorney Kevin Barton. “Because we believe the restrictions will have a negative impact on public safety, we felt compelled to act.”

Media contact information
Stephen Mayer
Public Information Officer
August 29, 2022