Prosecutor Excludes Judge from Trying Criminal Cases

Was Judge Matarazzo the victim of a play against "criminal justice reformers" ["Judging Judy," WW, Aug. 30, 2017]?

Ten years ago she presided over a rape trial.  The victim felt a consistent lack of respect. All were appalled with her refusal to rein in the defense attorney, who told the female prosecutor to "bite me." She prevented the jury from hearing of similar assaults by the defendant. When, nevertheless, the jury found the defendant guilty and the verdict was set aside because of the attorney's conduct, the prospect of a retrial before her led to a compromise sentence that was inadequate.

In about 2010, based on her overall conduct, I met with her to express our concerns. Despite this, she portrays herself surprised when she was excluded from criminal cases. Let me suggest she was only "surprised" because she fancied herself such a powerful figure the DA would be forever reluctant to exclude her.

As to the diversion program, it is not based on law but was created through an agreement between the DA and judges other than her. It would not exist without their support. They are its heroes, not Judge Matarazzo.

Ironically, on the day she said DA Underhill informed her of his decision, he was actually in New York at a conference of DAs dedicated to "criminal justice reform."

Finally, Rod Underhill's brother is "a convicted meth dealer." One should also know he took his brother's daughter into his family and successfully raised her as his own. Sometimes criminal justice reform begins at home.

Norm Frink
Chief Deputy District Attorney (Retired)

Multnomah County Minority Access to Capital Required a Team Effort

The piece by Thacher Schmid ("Elevated," WW, Aug. 30, 2017) rightly showcases the astonishing difference investments can make in sparking innovation and success.

We're thrilled with job that Nitin Rai has done in carrying out our project that started at a roundtable at my home with the Rev. Jesse Jackson in 2015 when talk turned to the lack of investment for African-Americans.

Not long after, then-Portland development director Patrick Quinton and I went to work.

Our idea was to bring together public and private investors to create a seed fund focused on minority- and women-owned businesses. Access to capital, especially in the early stages of business, can be hard to come by, especially for entrepreneurs of color and women. This fund is one of the first of its kind in the nation to build this sort of partnership.

Since opening the fund with Multnomah County and Prosper Portland allocating $500,000 each, we worked with Elevate Capital and Nitin Rai to secure more than $1 million in public funds from the county, the city of Portland via the Portland Development Commission, the city of Beaverton and the state of Oregon, as well as $800,000 from private investors.

Nitin Rai and Elevate Capital have been tremendous stewards of this program. I am grateful for the forward thinking at Multnomah County and our partners at PDC/Prosper Portland, without which this first-of-its-kind fund would never have come to fruition.

Loretta Smith Multnomah County Commissioner District 2

CORRECTION

Last week's cover story ("Judging Judy," WW, Aug. 30, 2017) reported on a meeting between Multnomah County District Attorney Rod Underhill and Circuit Judge Judith Matarazzo that Matarazzo initially said occurred June 6. Matarazzo now says the meeting took place May 23, but the effect was the same.

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