Call us old-fashioned, but we here at Rogue Central cherish the notion that judges must be both cool-headed and above reproach--which is why we are perturbed by the record of Portland trial lawyer Al Bannon, who is running for the august post of Multnomah County Circuit Court judge.
Last November, Bannon was backing his BMW into a parking space down the street from the Hatfield Courthouse just as Edward Roberts was trying to maneuver his Corvette forward into the spot. The two got out of their cars and disputed the merits of their respective claims, after which their stories diverge.
Roberts told police that Bannon jumped into his BMW and backed into Roberts' Corvette--denting the bumper--before driving away.
Bannon had a different version. He told Officer Craig Dobson that Roberts was the one who drove his car into Bannon's BMW.
Unbeknownst to Bannon, two witnesses told police that Roberts wasn't even inside his Corvette when Bannon backed into it.
One of the witnesses, Susan Tong, told the Rogue Desk she was "floored" by Bannon's behavior. "I saw the Corvette move when it got hit--you could see it jiggle," she said. When she approached the Corvette, Tong saw a "huge gouge" in its bumper.
In December, the district attorney's office charged Bannon with hit-and-run. Later, prosecutors dropped the charges as part of a settlement in which Bannon agreed to reimburse Roberts and pay a $500 fine.
Bannon denies admitting to police that there had been a collision, and says he only paid to make the problem go away. He told WW there was "absolutely" no visible damage, adding that the prosecutor decided to drop charges after hearing Bannon's side of the story.
But Chief Deputy District Attorney Fred Lenzser disagrees, saying the agreement is standard practice with first-time offenders. "It's not because we didn't feel we had a case," he says. "There was an obvious dent."
Bannon may not be off the hook. The Oregon State Bar, which regulates lawyers, is investigating the incident.
The Rogue Desk is now accepting nominations. Call 503-243-2122 ext. 380 or email suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.