The high-profile witness-bribery trial of lawyer Randy Richardson has revealed that some of his alleged transgressions should have been exposed years before.
Richardson is on trial on charges of bribing and witness-tampering while he was a defense attorney in two cases-one in 2001, the other in 2002 (see "Randy Richardson was a hotshot criminal-defense lawyer. Now he needs one," WW, May 28, 2003). Before becoming a criminal-defense lawyer, he had been a star prosecutor for six years in the Multnomah County District Attorney's office.
Last Thursday, former Richardson client Ali Houdroge testified in a downtown Portland courtroom that Richardson urged him in the 2001 case to do whatever it took to keep his ex-wife from testifying against him-including paying her-in a domestic-violence case. Houdroge gave $500 to his ex-wife, who never testified, and the case was dropped.
Houdroge first told that story back in 2001 as part of a complaint to the Oregon State Bar, which regulates legal ethics. But it went nowhere, in part because the bar lacks law-enforcement powers, such as examining bank accounts and forcing people to testify. And instead of forwarding its suspicions to the Multnomah County District Attorney, who does have those powers, the bar let the allegations gather dust for two years. During the more recent criminal investigation, police learned of the Houdroge case and obtained evidence the bar could not.
Contacted for comment, bar officials referred WW to a policy saying district attorneys are only alerted of potential crimes if the bar has found sufficient evidence to file ethics charges. They declined to discuss whether bar rules need beefing up, citing the pending case.