Friends and Family of Clients:
Here at the Public Defender of Marion County we recognize the impact on the people who are close to a person that has been charged with a crime. We do our best to keep these people informed of court dates and the well being of their loved one. However, our duty is to our client alone. We further our client’s interest to the best of our abilities and this often includes not discussing their case with anyone but them.
Please help your friend or family member by not asking about their case. All phone calls made by an inmate to anyone not the inmate’s lawyer are monitored and recorded ; visits to an inmate are monitored and recorded; mail to or from the jail is read and sometimes copied. Any information acquired by these means can be used agains the inmate at trial. Any person with whom the inmate communicated can be subpoened and made to testify against the inmate. In addition to that information being used against them in the current case, any information learned through monitoring inmate communications can be the basis of additional criminal charges.
If you believe you have information that would be helpful to your friend or family member, and you wish to speak with the assigned attorney, please call our office and leave a message for them with your name and contact information, the name of the client you are calling about, and a brief message about why you are calling. The attorney will contact you if he or she needs to talk to you. If the attorney does not contact you, do not panic. The attorney may already have the information you are offering, or that information may not fit into the defense the lawyer and client are preparing.
If you need to find out when your friend or family member is scheduled to appear in court feel free to call our office and speak with a secretary. They will be happy to tell you when the next court date is scheduled. If you go to court to support your family member or friend please remember that if they are in custody you are not going to be able to speak with him or her. It is best to leave young children at home with a sitter even if they are the inmate’s children. If the inmate wants to see his or her children you should arrange a visit at the jail. This link will take you to the Jail visiting policy.
If you are planning to come to court to support your friend or family member, remember Marion County Circuit Court has two locations. The Annex at 4000 Aumsville Hwy., Salem Oregon, and the main Courthouse at 100 High St. NE. Salem, Oregon. The two locations are approximately five miles apart, so be sure you go to the one where the appearance is being held.
In most cases the attorney assigned to the case will be happy to speak with you. However, we represent the accused person and all of our professional commitment is to the client and the client’s case. We cannot and do not represent your interests. Moreover, we may not give information to you without the client’s permission and we cannot provide you with information that might potentially be used against the client. That said, we are usually quite happy to hear anything you might wish to tell us. We are also willing to facilitate the resolution of child visitation issues, arranging to have the client’s property removed from a common residence, etc.
Press and Media Outlets:
PDMC respects the Fourth Estate and the First Amendment. The office has a policy of cooperating with the media to the extent such contact is ethically permitted, and as long as the communications are not adverse to any client’s interest. In general that means while a case is pending we will be able to communicate with you only about procedural matters and fact-specific information that is already a matter of public record. Once the case is resolved the ethical restrictions are somewhat relaxed, but our principle obligation remains to our client or former client.
If you are seeking general information about the criminal justice system, comments on a particular law, or a piece of legislation that impacts the criminal justice system our attorneys are happy to speak with you as time permits. Questions of such a general nature should probably be directed to the Executive Director, however.