The Oregon State Bar on Saturday dismissed a complaint against Sean Riddell, the former chief of the Oregon Department of Justice's criminal justice division.
Riddell, a former gang prosecutor in the Multnomah County District Attorney's office, came to DOJ in 2009 as the protege of then-Attorney General John Kroger, himself a former federal mob prosecutor.
Riddell's aggressive approach cost a couple of county sheriffs their jobs but landed him in a potentially career-ending conflict with lawyers at the powerful Eugene-based Harrang Long firm. Those lawyers, Bill Gary and former University of Oregon President Dave Frohnmayer, took offense at the way Kroger and Riddell handled a 2010 investigation into contracting practices at the Oregon Department of Energy. DOJ's investigation led to the the suspension of Energy chief Mark Long, Gary and Frohnmayer's client, and three other Energy employees.
Although the four employees were eventually restored to their jobs, Frohnmayer and Gary pursued Riddell in a a variety of ways. They sued DOJ in Marion County Court for withholding public records; sued the state for besmirching Long's reputation; and last May, filing a bar complaint against Riddell, alleging he had lied to a witness in the Energy investigation.
The Bar's rules of professional conduct prohibit lying, which can result in sanctions ranging from reprimands to license suspension, and so the bar complaint cast a cloud over Riddell's entry to into private practice.
Bar spokeswoman Kateri Walsh told WW that the complaint was dismissed over the weekend but did not immediately provide documents explaining the dismissal. The Bar's disciplinary reports are subject to the Oregon public records law.
But Walsh cited complications caused by protective order from Marion County Court relating to the Energy investigation and said it is unclear when or whether further information will be available.
Here is the letter the Bar sent to Gary and Frohnmayer, the lawyers who filed the complaint.
Dear Mr. Gary and Mr. Frohnmayer,
At a meeting held on September 22, 2012, the State Professional Responsibility Board reviewed the matter you brought to our attention concerning attorney Sean J. Riddell.
After carefully considering this matter, the board found no violation of the Oregon Rules of Professional Conduct by Mr. Riddell. I was directed to advise you and Mr. Riddell of this decision and to close our file.
Thank you for your assistance and cooperation in this matter.
Very truly yours,
Mary A. Cooper
Assistant Disciplinary Counsel