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Public defenders office suspends lawyer

Attorney Justin Neal Rosas has been suspended by the local public defenders office because of a criminal citation related to drugs in Lexington, Ky.

Herbert Putney, administrator of Southern Oregon Public Defender Inc., which serves Jackson and Josephine counties, said Rosas was suspended Friday after Putney learned of the citation. Putney said he didn't know what effect this would have on Rosas' continued employment.

"I have to look into it more," he said. "Then I'll make a decision."

Rosas was cited Sept. 28 in Lexington for possession of drug paraphernalia, cultivation of marijuana, trafficking marijuana and trafficking a controlled substance, said Putney.

A preliminary hearing has been waived and the case will go before a grand jury, which will determine whether it should be pursued, he said.

Rosas was hired in December. His Kentucky citation came after the Oregon State Bar conducted its background check and Rosas passed the bar exam.

Public defenders represent those who cannot afford an attorney in criminal proceedings.

The state bar will review Rosas' case to determine if further investigation is needed, said Kateri Walsh, bar spokeswoman.

"We will likely wait until more information is forthcoming from the criminal investigation," she said.

Attempts to obtain a copy of the police report from the Lexington police department were unsuccessful Monday.

Reach reporter Meg Landers at 776-4481 or e-mail mlanders@mailtribune.com.