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Crash probe clears Orf

MEDFORD &

The Oregon State Bar has found no evidence that local attorney David Orf violated any rules of professional conduct during a police investigation of a fatal two-car crash in Medford.

In February 2006, Randy Schoen, then deputy chief of the Medford Police Department, filed a complaint with the bar alleging that Orf interfered with the investigation of the February 2005 crash caused by Ashland teen Kevan Thatcher-Stephens.

Thatcher-Stephens sped through Medford in a Jeep Cherokee with a Jackson County sheriff patrol behind him and collided with a Chevrolet Blazer driven by Charles Ashley Bench of Shady Cove. Both Thatcher-Stephens, 17, and Bench, 26, were killed and a passenger in each vehicle was injured.

Police could never confirm where Thatcher-Stephens, who was intoxicated, had been drinking before the crash, but some witnesses said he had been partying at Orf's home in the previous week. David Orf and his wife, Jackson County Circuit Court Judge Rebecca Orf, were out of the country, but their son Drew, then 17, was at home.

Detectives noted that the Orfs resisted cooperating with police and Schoen filed the bar complaint against David Orf and a complaint against Judge Orf with the state's Commission on Judicial Fitness and Disability.

Schoen's complaint to the bar cited three possible ethics violations by David Orf &

providing legal advice to someone who isn't a client and could have interests in conflict with the adviser, engaging in conduct that would harm the administration of justice, and engaging in criminal acts that reflect adversely on a lawyer's honesty, trustworthiness or fitness to practice law.

"Early allegations suggested that illegal alcohol consumption may have occurred at the Orfs' residence, and that consumption may have contributed to this accident," Schoen's complaint read. "It appears there is a conflict of interest with Mr. Orf advising potential witnesses not to talk to the police. Mr. Orf's conduct appears to have been done in a manner that would protect his son, his personal and property interests."

Schoen, who is now Medford's police chief, referenced several conversations detectives had with Ashland High School students who said they should not talk to police upon the advice of an attorney, believed to be David Orf.

Schoen was in training and unavailable for comment Wednesday. David Orf did not immediately return phone calls seeking comment.

The bar's investigation concluded there wasn't enough evidence to show that Orf had committed a crime.

The association found that Orf did recommend to the students that they not speak with the police without an attorney present, but that he did not cross an ethical boundary, according to a letter written by Oregon State Bar Assistant Disciplinary Counsel Martha M. Hicks.

"Finally, I have received no evidence that would support an inference that when he advised people of their rights, Mr. Orf intended to hinder the apprehension, prosecution, conviction, or punishment of anyone," Hicks wrote.

"It appears that Mr. Orf's conduct was merely careful responses to several people who contacted him with questions about the situation. He did not initiate any of the contacts and made only the most general statements about the law relating to their contemplated participation in the police investigation."