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May-02-2014 00:27printcommentsVideo

Woman Falsely Convicted of Sex Crime and Set Free Talks to Tim King About Oregon Justice

Lucinda Hites-Clabough, says Oregon needs an Ombudsman to oversee the integrity of district attorneys, judges and even the attorney general. A similar program was launched in Washington in the late 90's.

Lucinda Hites-Clabough
Lucinda Hites-Clabough

(SALEM) - Lucinda Hites-Clabough is a school teacher who was falsely convicted of first-degree sexual abuse, and later had her conviction overturned. Her case is one of many in Oregon that involves a legal system that insiders say, has no check or balances. Years of official corruption clashed with a gross lack of skills in determining an actual suspect from a contrived one, today define Oregon's justice system.

Hites-Clabough says Oregon needs an Ombudsman to oversee the integrity of district attorneys, judges and even the attorney general. A similar program was launched in Washington in the late 90's.

One system that helped prevent false prosecution, the preliminary court hearing, was disbanded by Oregon. These hearings would often lead to weak cases being thrown out, helping oversee the unnecessary expenditure of Oregon's taxpayers.

A grand jury is a much easier way for the state to indict a suspect.

A family practice attorney named Rose Hubbard, a who was picked at random to serve as a grand juror in Clackamas County, said in a 2004 Oregon State Bar article:

    "What I saw consistently was the deputy district attorneys presenting cases to grand jury and not following the rules," says Hubbard, who complained about her experience to Clackamas County District Attorney John Foote, the state bar Bulletin and the Lake Oswego Review. "The grand jury system doesn’t work. I was very surprised."

    Under Oregon law, a grand jury’s job is to determine whether the evidence presented to it, if uncontradicted or unexplained at trial, is sufficient to support a conviction. ORS 132.390. Generally speaking, the rules of evidence apply, ORS 132.320, and national standards remind prosecutors to respect the panel’s independence and to not unduly influence its decisions.

One attorney quoted in the Oregon State Bar article suggests this system is failing.

    "There’s an inherent conflict of interest with the district attorney being allowed to present evidence with regard to officers he relies on on a daily basis," says Raymond Crutchley, a Portland attorney who is of counsel to the Portland chapter of the NAACP.

    "How can the community rely on a system in which all of the parties are on the same team?" he asks. "The DA has a great deal of influence over the grand jury. It at least gives the appearance that he may be able to control the outcome." 1

Ms. Hites-Clabough is a person who can speak about the end result of Oregon's legal system at length.

Evidence that would have cleared her from the allegation was ignored or dismissed. It seems apparent that the prosecutors who convicted her had little interest in anything but securing a conviction.

Now the incredible prosecutorial misjudgement in Marion County's Courthouse is clear for all to see. The truth is that this this case, like so many others in Oregon, involved superficial, flimsy evidence that could easily have been vetted and ultimately dismissed.

But that first requires a legal system that is honest and true, not just bent on tossing people like Lucinda Hites-Clabough into prison as a "chimo" (child molester) when a reasonable set of legal guidelines would have spared her the monstrous grief of being incarcerated for a crime she didn't commit.

Fortunately, a transgender ex-Marine in the prison watched over Lucinda and kept people at bay. She first met this woman during choir, "I approached this woman and told her I liked her bass voice and that it really made the choir sound much better, she appreciated that."

For eight months, this Marine watched over a wrongly convicted woman. A Quaker that likes to sing Mary Poppin songs.

In the Appellate Court Decision, it was noted by the presiding judge:

    Here, the defense theory of the case was that the event described by the victim simply did not occur, that the investigating officer was not trained in investigating allegations of child sexual abuse, and that as a result, his investigation was markedly deficient. The excluded evidence went to the heart of defendant's theory of defense. In those circumstances, the exclusion of the evidence was prejudicial.

    Reversed and remanded.

    BREWER, P.J. 2

At this point, Lucinda is looking for a lawyer with the guts to take her case, she deserves millions and millions of dollars for what she was put through, any attorneys who want to talk to Lucinca can write to me at newsroom@salem-news.com and please add Lucinda Hites-Clabough in the subject line.

I appreciate Ms. Hites-Clabough taking time to sit down with me and talk about her horrendous experience that was a state-sponsored nightmare no person like her should have ever been forced to endure.

Eric Mason of Mason Legal Services, says in regard to the overturning of the verdict in this particular case, "People fall through the cracks all the time, more often than the average person realizes; Lucinda was one of those people and it took a lot of energy, time and work to turn that ship around"

Mason worked on the case between the time of the verdict and the time of her release and found witnesses who the original defense had never spoken to. He says it was clear from the beginning that she wasn't guilty of anything except being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Tim King

02 May 2014

1 Oregon State Bar Bulletin — JULY 2004 Secrecy: A Help or a Hindrance? by Janine Robben

2 The Judicial View - Court of Appeals of Oregon.STATE of Oregon, Plaintiff–Respondent, v. Lucinda S. HITES–CLABAUGH, Defendant–Appellant.



Comments Leave a comment on this story.

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Amanda May 3, 2014 5:47 pm (Pacific time)

There are more cases which include corrupt lawyers in concert with parts of the judiciary, are all part of a "Fraternity". As social engieers of this society,they interpret the law as they see fit, Yes they need to be investigated,

Marlayne McHenry May 3, 2014 9:08 am (Pacific time)

Perhaps Salem-News will do a story covering what some citizens are doing to fight against and repeal the Sex Offender Registry (SOR) laws in Oregon. His name is Tom Madison of Gresham. OregonActionCommittee.Org

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