Hot topics | Coronavirus pandemic

Lawyer hired to review prior convictions, sentences, and other similar charges abruptly resigns from the Multnomah County DA Office. Multhnomphea County prosecutor who was hired for review of past conviction, sentence, or other circumstances abrupt renunciates from Mulnnomnomheh county prosecuting attorney

Lawyer hired to review prior convictions, sentences, and other similar charges abruptly resigns from the Multnomah County DA Office. Multhnomphea County prosecutor who was hired for review of past conviction, sentence, or other circumstances abrupt renunciates from Mulnnomnomheh county prosecuting attorney

Ernest Warren, a longtime criminal defense lawyer who was hired to lead statewide review of convictions and sentences, quit the Multnomah County District Attorneys Office on Wednesday.

District Attorney Mike Schmidt declined to elaborate on why Warren resigned, saying only that he and the veteran attorney decided to separate ways.

Warrens switch from defense lawyer to prosecutor, according to Schmidt, was a long transition.

We gave it a try and it didnt work out, he said. Ernie has a lot of respect in my heart. A defense attorney coming in to serve as a prosecutor is no small deal. We agreed today that it wasnt working out for us.

Schmidt declined to give any details on what prompted the departure, which was high-profile. The post, which is responsible for the agencys Justice Integrity Unit, was the focus of Schmidt campaign platform, that focused on reforming the prosecutor office.

The fit didnt work out, Schmidt said.

After a younger woman colleague complained to the prosecutors union that Warren had remarked repeatedly on her appearance, though not sexually, Schmidt on Wednesday offered Warren the option of stepping down or facing termination, according to sources. Schmidt was also informed that Warren had reportedly fallen asleep during a meeting with national counterparts who hold similar positions in oblivion.

Warren disputed the claim that he had fallen asleep.

I did feel a little dozy, but I didnt go off, he said.

He stated that the woman mentioned her outfit in conversation and he responded that lawyers should be careful when dressing for juries.

I'm a trial lawyer, he added. We dress down for trials. We dont dress up. You don't look fancy. You dont want to appear more fancy than the jury.

He called the circumstances of his resignation overblown.

But thats okay, he added. If thats what they are reporting, Im willing to assume full responsibility for it, she said.

Warren was hired last month to lead a task force that is supposed to examine wrongful convictions and prison sentences for people serving time. According to Schmidts office, he would be paid $203,351 a year. Schmidt noted that Warren founded the first black-owned defense law firm in Oregon.

People who've stayed out of trouble and want to see their felony convictions reduced to misdemeanors so they can seek housing and employment, according to Schmidt, will be looked at in detail.

Warrens resignation is a temporary setback for his priorities, according to Schmidt.

The Justice Integrity Unit is extremely important to me, he stated Wednesday. We tried something here. We tried something creative in this case and it didnt work out, said Hanks.

He said the program and the idea behind it are more complex than any individual.

Schmidt stated, We have to get it right. We both came to that conclusion, he added.

-- Noelle Crombie; ncrombier@oregonian.com; 503-276-7184; @noellecrombae

You may also like: