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Complaint against Judge Orf dropped

MEDFORD &

An Oregon commission governing the conduct of judges dismissed a complaint against Jackson County Circuit Court Judge Rebecca Orf, alleging ethical misconduct during a police investigation into a fatal, two-car crash in Medford.

The Oregon Commission on Judicial Fitness and Disability declined last June to investigate the complaint, filed in February 2006 by Randy Schoen, then deputy chief of Medford police. Neither the complaint nor the June letter are public record. The Mail Tribune learned of the letter this week and obtained a copy of it from Rebecca Orf's attorney, Brad Tellam.

Orf decline to comment Friday, saying she would only confirm that she received the letter dismissing the complaint.

Schoen had also filed a complaint against Orf's husband, defense attorney David Orf, with the Oregon State Bar. Schoen alleged that the Orfs had interfered with the investigation of the February 2005 crash caused by Ashland teen Kevan Thatcher-Stephens.

The bar announced on April — it had found no evidence that David Orf violated any rules of professional conduct.

On Feb. 11, 2005, 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 the Orfs' home in the previous week. The Orfs were out of the country at the time, but their son Drew, then 17, was at home.

Detectives expressed frustration during their investigation, alleging the Orfs had contacted several people who may have had knowledge of Thatcher-Stephens' drinking and told them not to cooperate with police.

Schoen, who is now Medford chief of police, was in training for the week and unavailable for comment Friday.