After six weeks on the job, the head of the newly formed Justice Integrity Unit at the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office resigned.
Ernie Warren, a longtime Portland defense attorney, resigned with little explanation on Wednesday. He declined to comment and said in a post he “wished them all the best”.
In a message to staff, Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt said he wished Warren the best of luck and that he will continue to be an ally for the integrity of the criminal justice system.
âWe always knew that bringing a career defense lawyer into a prosecutor’s office was going to be a difficult transition, and in this case, it didn’t work,â Schmidt wrote. âErnie and I agree that the work of ITC is more important than that of any person. “
Warren founded the first black-owned defense firm in Oregon and has spent years representing clients indicted by the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office. The mission of the Integrity of Justice Unit, as defined by Schmidt, is to review previous convictions, ensuring that all steps in the process have been properly followed.
In an interview with OPB’s Think Out Loud last month, Warren spoke of his desire to review the jury’s non-unanimous convictions, following a U.S. Supreme Court ruling last year. who found them unconstitutional. During that same interview, Warren spoke about his enthusiasm and his overall vision for the job.
“I have gone to great lengths to defend those accused of crimes,” Warren told Think Out Loud. âI had 100 tries. I believe in the truth. I believe in innocence and watch people who may have been wrongly convicted and who may be exonerated by DNA. Watching excessive sentences is really what I did all the time as a one man team, and now I have the DA’s office behind me doing the same.
The prosecutor’s office would not say what the next step is for the office’s new conviction integrity unit or how it plans to move forward.