Johnson v. Dept. of Public Safety Standards and Training

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Procedure
  • Date Filed: 11-07-2012
  • Case #: A147361
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Schuman, P.J. for the Court; Wollheim, J.; and Nakamoto, J.
  • Full Text Opinion

ORS 135.970(2) imposes a duty solely on the defense attorney to inform a crime victim of the “identity and capacity of the person contacting the victim” and the victim’s other rights under the statute. A crime victim’s constitutional right to refuse an interview request does not include an obligation on the person seeking the interview to inform the victim of that right.

Lance Johnson was a licensed private investigator who worked for defense attorneys. His license was revoked by the Department of Public Safety Standards and Training (DPSST) after an ALJ hearing. The ALJ concluded that Johnson violated Or. Const. art. I, § 42(1)(c) and ORS 135.970(2) when he allegedly misrepresented himself as a police officer when he conducted interviews with crime victims. DPSST adopted the ALJ’s finding as their final order and Johnson sought judicial review in the Court of Appeals. The Court agreed with Johnson that while the Constitution does confer on crime victims the right to refuse an interview, it imposes no obligation on the person conducting the interview to inform the crime victim of this right. The Court also agreed with Johnson that ORS 135.970(2) imposes an obligation on the defense attorney alone to inform the crime victim of the investigator’s identity, and does not impose any such obligation on the defense attorney’s agent(s). The Court held that DPSST erred in its interpretation of the Constitution and ORS 135.970(2). DPSST based its conclusion that Johnson violated DPSST’s other rules and ORS 703.450(15) on its erroneous conclusion that Johnson violated the Constitution and ORS 135.970(2). Reversed and remanded for reconsideration.

Advanced Search