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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Deputy DA Arraigned On DUI Charge

Posted by Matt Davis on Thu, May 14, 2009 at 1:05 PM

Deputy District Attorney Lucy Heil was arraigned and pled not guilty this morning on DUI and reckless driving charges. Heil was arrested on April 29, en route from a party attended by fellow attorneys and court staff to raise cash for the courthouse's childcare program. Her measured blood alcohol level on arrest was confirmed at 0.22% by her attorney this morning.

"My client was arraigned for a DUI and reckless driving, she is diversion eligible, and we immediately informed her employer," says Heil's attorney, Jim McIntyre. "It's a regrettable incident, and she's taking every step she can to correct the mistake and we expect to get it resolved."

"My client is being dealt with as anyone else in Multnomah County who would be similarly charged," McIntyre insists.

The District Attorney's office has also brought in an outside prosecutor on the case, to avoid a conflict of interest where Heil could potentially be prosecuted by one of her own colleagues. Both the District Attorney's office and the special prosecutor, Robin Springer from law firm Bullivant Houser Bailey, are yet to return calls seeking comment.

"She has an active law license and we haven’t received any word of the arraignment or arrest,” says Oregon State Bar spokeswoman Kateri Walsh. “OSBAR has had some complaints in the past involving DUI, and sometimes there are circumstances that might lead us to take action, but they would have to have an impact on the person’s ability to practice law, and to determine that we would have to go through our full disciplinary process.”

Heil has prosecuted plenty of DUI cases, personally.

Oregon law defines a DUI as over 0.08% blood alcohol level. Wikipedia says a blood alcohol rating of 0.22% represents "very serious intoxication," and lists "stupor, loss of understanding, impaired sensations, severe motor impairment, loss of consciousness and memory blackout" as potential side effects of a blood alcohol level over 0.21%.

Update, 2:30pm: Senior District Attorney Norm Frink says the DA's office has "initiated appropriate disciplinary action" under the terms of the DA's contract with the Prosecuting Attorney's Association. Frink couldn't comment further, pending the investigation, but said he expected it to be resolved "fairly quickly."

"I got the call on the weekend as soon as it happened," says DA Mike Schrunk. "The only awkwardness is getting someone outside the office to prosecute the case."

"It's my understanding that she's going to go into diversion, we'll take the appropriate action and deal with the internal part of it," he concludes.

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