A former Sunriver Police officer entered a plea of not guilty Friday in Deschutes County Circuit Court weeks after he was subpoenaed to testify in a separate case in which he was the arresting officer.
Kasey Samuel Hughes answered “not guilty” when the judge asked how he pleaded to two counts of official misconduct. Later Friday, Hughes abided by the court’s order he be photographed and fingerprinted at the Deschutes County jail.
In the first count, Hughes, 40, is accused of leaving his post without permission on the night of Nov. 11 to be with a woman in Bend. The second count alleges he failed to formally process the same woman’s report of sexual assault.
The case raises several interesting legal questions. One is whether Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel went too far in a news release detailing the state’s case against Hughes.
Hughes’ attorney, Jaime Goldberg, said he will file a motion next week requesting a change of venue in his client’s case. Goldberg said Hummel’s initial news release about Hughes’ case prejudiced the local jury pool with inaccuracies and flawed legal analysis.
“The DA just wants a circus. He wants to make a ridiculous spectacle of these misdemeanor charges,” Goldberg said. “They are very weak charges, and the facts are going to show they don’t fit. The whole purpose is to embarrass these people.”
Goldberg’s motion will include an email from the woman whose report of sexual assault Hughes is said to have disregarded Nov. 11.
For a change of venue to be approved, a judge must first grant the use of a survey of potential jurors. If a judge determines poll results show Hughes can’t get a fair trial in Deschutes County, the case would be moved to another part of the state.
But changes of venue are rarely approved in Oregon, and when they are, it’s rarely on behalf of a witness or victim, according to Shaun McCrea, executive director of the Oregon Criminal Defense Attorney’s Association.
Hummel told The Bulletin his office would oppose a motion to change venue.
“There’s no legal basis for it,” he said.
Goldberg said his client intends to fight the charges at trial, set for November in Bend.
Another legal matter in the Hughes case is that the state still intends to use the former officer as a witness in at least one pending criminal case he participated in as an officer.
“This is concerning because obviously Mr. Hughes is incentivized to testify and be helpful to the state while he is currently charged by the state,” said Bend public defender Shawn Kollie.
And Kollie said prosecutors have yet to turn over evidence of Hughes’ criminal charges to attorneys of the defendants in those cases.
“I’m confident there will be future litigation regarding the state’s refusal to provide that information,” Kollie said.
Hummel said his prosecutors won’t call Hughes if they think he’s unreliable.
“We’ll have to consider that on a case-by-case basis,” he said.
If Hughes is called to testify in other cases, defense attorneys would likely hammer him on the stand, according to McCrea.
“If I was his lawyer, the last thing I would want is to put my client under oath,” she said.
Hughes could be offered immunity in his misconduct case in exchange for cooperating in other cases. But even a mere accusation can damage an officer’s credibility, McCrea said.
“It’s out there,” she said. “There’s no taking it back.”
— Reporter: 541-383-0325, email@example.com