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Oregon Legislature Interim Committee Meetings
Wednesday, December 7, 2022 at 8:00 am
Legislative Committee hearings
Oregon Capitol



Protect Parental Rights during Legislative Days
Wednesday, December 7, 2022 at 11:00 am

Show up to protect parental rights.
Tour the House and Senate offices.
Arm yourself with educational materials to share with legislators and others.
Attend legislative committee meetings.
Contact your legislators now tp meet with them while you're at the Capitol -- we can accompany you.
Meet at the Ike Box, 299 Cottage Street NE at 11:00 and 1:00



Oregon Legislature Interim Committee Meetings
Thursday, December 8, 2022 at 8:00 am
Legislative Committee hearings
Oregon Capitol



"Protect Parental Rights" during ALL the Legislative Days
Thursday, December 8, 2022 at 11:00 am
Show up to protect parental rights. Tour the House and Senate offices. Arm yourself with educational materials to share with legislators and others. Attend legislative committee meetings. Contact your legislators now tp meet with them while you're at the Capitol -- we can accompany you.
Meet at the Ike Box, 299 Cottage Street NE at 11:00 and 1:00



Oregon Legislature Interim Committee Meetings
Friday, December 9, 2022 at 8:00 am
Legislative Committee hearings
Oregon Capitol



Protect Parental Rights during Legislative Days
Friday, December 9, 2022 at 11:00 am
Show up to protect parental rights. Tour the House and Senate offices. Arm yourself with educational materials to share with legislators and others. Attend legislative committee meetings. Contact your legislators now tp meet with them while you're at the Capitol -- we can accompany you.
Meet at the Ike Box, 299 Cottage Street NE at 11:00 and 1:00



82nd Session of the Oregon Legislature Begins
Monday, January 9, 2023 at 8:00 am
The 2023 Session of the Oregon Legislature begins. Legislators are sworn in and bills are introduced.
Oregon Capitol, Salem


View All Calendar Events


Prison Inmates Play Lawyer
Oregon State Bar refuses to investigate -- or protect the public

In March 2020, two complaints were filed with the Oregon State Bar’s Unlicensed Practice of Law Committee alleging outrageous criminal conduct by a pair of inmates in the custody of the Oregon Department of Corrections. The two unrelated complaints alleged that the inmates were performing legal work, without a license, and in violation of Oregon law, punishable by fine or imprisonment under ORS 9.990.

Each of the two complaints was submitted by a government official with direct knowledge of the situation. The disturbing details of the complaints—and the credibility of the officials who filed them -- did not stop the Oregon State Bar from refusing to do even a basic investigation, and summarily dismissing the complaints.

The first complaint was against inmate Robert Jerome Byers, a violent rapist who injected his victim with methamphetamine and who will die in jail before his release date in 2083. The complaint alleges that Byers assisted other inmates “with their [legal] filings, specifically small claims, for a fee.” This is the kind of standard jailhouse lawyering that commonly happens in every prison.

But alarmingly, Byers had graduated by last March to far more predatory behavior: According to the complaint, Byer sought “to establish himself as the legal guardian of other inmates” by claiming that he had witnessed “abuse of individuals” that Byers had himself decided were “vulnerable or disabled.” These guardianships seem to have been designed by Byers to gain control over his fellow inmates’ prison funds.

The complaint against Byers was submitted by Morrow and Umatilla County Circuit Court Trial Court Administrator Roy Blaine, who brought it to the Bar’s attention after receiving a handwritten letter from Byers requesting copies of court forms for guardianships and “restraining orders” to be imposed upon “vulnerable or disabled” people. “I felt, based on paperwork received in several cases, that all were prepared by Mr. Byers’” Mr. Blaine told me. “[The Bar] did not feel it warranted further action.”

But most would agree with Mr. Blaine: that a violent rapist like Robert Jerome Byers, convicted for drugging his victim into submission, should not be permitted to do legal work for fellow inmates, particularly by becoming the legal guardian of vulnerable people and gaining access to their prison funds.

The Oregon State Bar, however, disagreed. Their summary dismissal of Mr. Blaine’s complaint, without conducting any investigation whatsoever, was memorialized by letter from the Bar’s Deputy General Counsel, Nik Chourey, thanking Mr. Blaine for his “interest in Oregon consumer protection.”

The second of the two egregious Unlicensed Practice of Law complaints the Bar ignored was against Joshua Vincent Walsh, a convicted burglar eligible for release from the Oregon State Penitentiary as early as March, 2022. The complaint, filed by Oregon Department of Justice Investigator Debra Seeck, alleges that Walsh may have accepted payment from other inmates for his help in filing up to 31 copies of his own lawsuit—one for which he received $27,000 in state settlement funds.

Ms. Seeck stated, that as of March 2020, two of the 31 clones of Walsh’s lawsuit that had been filed in the courts—under the names of inmates Chris Hoffman and Blake Humphers—had already settled. “The vast majority” of the other suits, Ms. Seeck said, were awaiting summary judgment or trial in the circuit courts.

Ms. Seeck told the Bar that she had “listened to Walsh’s recorded phone calls,” including a conversation between Walsh and his father about the Hoffman and Humphers suits, in which Walsh described the compensation he expected from his fellow inmates for his unlawful legal work. Walsh stated:

“Chris [Hoffman] got out about eight months ago and I gave him $500. He settled out, two of my friends, one got $18,000 and then Christopher, my one friend, we don't know what he got. He won't answer his phone. And so, he's not going to have the money until a couple weeks from now, probably about a week. Here's the thing. I have this number for him. You know how it would be for getting a large sum of money. He might not get around to giving me my cut. Would you give him a call and ask him if he is okay and why he's not answering his phone? He's supposed to pay back that $500 and then I'm supposed to get a third and it will be anywhere from $6,000 to $15,000.”

Ms. Seeck also alerted the Bar that Walsh’s trust account was being monitored for “any large sums of money transferred” to him, and that officials were “taking other actions to thwart further ‘counseling’ by Walsh.” Acting officially as a DOJ Investigator, Ms. Seeck explicitly stated, “We are asking for help from the Oregon Bar to investigate the actions of Joshua Walsh for his Unlawful Practice of Law.”

The Oregon State Bar’s Unlicensed Practice of Law Committee is a committee of twenty lawyers and judges whose sole duty is to investigate such reports of individuals, like Walsh, illegally acting as attorneys in Oregon. The Bar is required under ORS 9.164 to “investigate any alleged violation” of those laws.

Most would agree with Ms. Seeck that a convicted felon operating an illegal scheme to file multiple copies of a lawsuit under the names of other inmates should not be permitted to continue doing so. After the Bar refused to investigate, and summarily dismissed the complaint against Walsh, the Bar’s attorney Nik Chourey also thanked Ms. Seeck for her “interest in Oregon consumer protection.” Only time will tell how much this blizzard of copied-and-pasted lawsuits may end up costing the State of Oregon, but generally, basic math suggests that 31 lawsuits x $27,000 settlements = $837,000.

Basic logic tells us that the Oregon State Bar is beyond negligent in failing to perform what Oregon law defines as is its most basic function: that of a state regulatory agency obligated by law to protect the public—including those who are incarcerated—from the harm inflicted by illegal and unlicensed practice of law, and the financial fraud and victimization that it enables.

A search of the e-court registry shows that to date, no injunctive or criminal proceedings have been brought against Robert Byers or Joshua Walsh for the conduct reported by officials from the Oregon Judicial Department and the Department of Justice. If the Oregon State Bar is derelict enough to ignore such shocking complaints by such credible sources, then the Oregon State Bar cannot be trusted to protect you and me—and should not be in the business of regulation.

And there is absolutely no need to thank them for their lack of interest in Oregon consumer protection.




--Stephanie Volin

Post Date: 2021-04-21 17:37:56Last Update: 2021-04-21 18:23:15



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