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Judge: DA doesn't have to offer felony discharge to Hagey

A judge has ruled the Jackson County District Attorney's Office does not have to allow former Jackson County Community Justice director Shane Hagey into a felony discharge program for first-time drug offenders.

With a conditional discharge, a first-time drug offender who successfully completes requirements can have a felony drug conviction wiped from his or her criminal history. 

Josephine County Circuit Court Judge Lindi Baker ruled Monday that the district attorney's office does not have to offer a conditional-discharge path to Hagey, who resigned in March after he was arrested in December 2015 for allegedly buying meth from an informant.

His criminal case is pending. Hagey faces a charge of possession of methamphetamine.

Baker said it's up to the district attorney's office to decide who gets into a conditional-discharge program — and who does not.

"They're the gatekeepers of this particular program," said Baker, who was brought in from neighboring Josephine County to avoid any potential conflict-of-interest issues with Jackson County Circuit Court judges over Hagey's case.

District Attorney Beth Heckert has denied Hagey's request to enter a conditional-discharge program, citing his former position in the law enforcement field. As director of Community Justice, Hagey oversaw adult probation and parole, juvenile probation, the juvenile detention facility and the Community Justice Transition Center.

"Conditional discharge is not something everyone is entitled to. It requires the consent of the district attorney," Heckert said.

Carl Caplan, defense attorney for Hagey, said the government should treat everyone equally.

"We argue that everybody should be treated the same," Caplan said.

Caplan called local defense attorney Justin Rosas to the witness stand. Rosas said he has been a criminal defense attorney in private practice in Jackson County for eight years and before that worked as a public defender.

Rosas said he has never seen a drug offender denied entry into a conditional-discharge program, unless the offender has a disqualifying factor, such as a past drug conviction. He said indigent people as well as professionals — including those in the medical field — have been offered conditional discharge.

Caplan said Hagey has already undergone drug treatment and is in after-care treatment.

"There's no question about it, judge. This was an addiction," Caplan told Baker.

Caplan said the purpose of conditional-discharge programs is to help people who are committed to recovery get out of the downward spiral of addiction and become contributing members of society again.

Caplan said Hagey continued to do a good job at work despite his addiction, but his career in law enforcement is over because of the drug arrest.

"He's done. It's over," Caplan said.

Medford police began investigating Hagey after an informant claimed Hagey had been buying small amounts of meth from the informant at various Medford locations. Hagey was arrested after allegedly buying meth from the informant at a Purple Parrot outlet in Medford.

Following the judge's ruling, Caplan said he would discuss with Hagey whether to go to trial on the meth charge or enter a conditional plea.

With a conditional plea, a defendant is giving notice of an intent to appeal. With a regular guilty plea, a defendant waives appeal rights, Heckert said.

Staff reporter Vickie Aldous can be reached at 541-776-4486 or valdous@mailtribune.com. Follow her at www.twitter.com/VickieAldous.

Shane Hagey