Saturday, January 29, 2011

Lane County Settles Lawsuit with Creswell Student for False Confession Case

The Eugene Register-Guard reports that Lane County has agreed to accept a judgment against itself for $20,000, to settle the lawsuit against it and a former deputy sheriff for violating a Creswell Middle School student’s rights by coercing him to falsely confess to shooting a neighbor’s dog.

The lawsuit was filed by the father of Levi Dunn on his son’s behalf in February 2010. It named Creswell School District and two employees as well as Lane County and a then-deputy sheriff.

In December, Creswell and its two named employees agreed to accept a judgment against itself for a total of $22,000.

Levi's Attorney C. Michael Arnold said that Levi and his father chose to file this lawsuit for two reasons: to clear Levi’s name, since he was still being picked on and called “dog killer” even after the juvenile case against him was dismissed; and to deter law enforcement from engaging in these misguided interrogation tactics in the future.

According to Arnold, “There are clear guidelines set by the Oregon Attorney General on how to interview a child witness, to protect the child from being unduly influenced and making statements that aren’t true. Child witness statements are even video recorded. Why aren’t these same guidelines in place for children accused of crimes? Aren’t child suspects as vulnerable to influence as child victims?”

The answer is “yes,” says Arnold, which is why Levi would only settle his case if a judgment was entered against the defendants. This allows for future victims of heavy-handed interrogation tactics to have definitive proof that this issue has been resolved in favor of another child, giving them a leg up in research and investigation. Typically, lawsuits are settled with a release of claims and a dismissal of the lawsuit, Arnold stated. Both the district and county could have attempted to negotiate a dismissal and a release of claims. However, here a judgment will be entered similar to what would have happened if the case went to trial and Levi won any of his claims.

Arnold explains, “From our perspective this case settled the way it did for the same or similar amount of damages as if we went to trial and prevailed with a jury. A judgment is in place and Levi’s name is cleared. And, the defendants had to pay a considerable sum of money, which hopefully will have a deterrent effect on other government agencies who engage in this sort of conduct at the expense of citizen rights and at the expense of the truth. The message should be clear: ‘Obtaining false confessions may make an investigation quick and easy, but it will eventually catch up with you.’”

Arnold’s law firm has also placed a model school district policy on their website to encourage parents to lobby their district’s policy committee to draft policies that protect their children. It can be found at

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Best Biscuits and Gravy in Oregon: Stockman's Cafe

It has been a struggle to find biscuits and gravy in Oregon, since moving here from the Midwest. Many places out here try to improve upon the basic recipe. Every time we sell livestock at the Eugene Livestock Auction in Junction City, Oregon, we eat at their cafe. Give it a try, even if you travel sheepless.

Directions to the Stockman's Cafe.

Mike's Professional Bio

Mike Arnold grew up in Parkville, Missouri, outside of Kansas City. He received his Bachelor of Arts in political science from Truman State University in Kirksville, Missouri, where he graduated summa cum laude.

He received his Juris Doctorate in 2001 from the University of Oregon School of Law, where he was a Wayne Morse Fellow, the law school's prestigious fellowship for law and politics.During law school Mike clerked at the Lane County District Attorney's Office, where he prosecuted misdemeanor and felony jury trials. Before joining Arnold Law Office, Mike was an associate attorney at a Eugene personal injury firm.

Mike represents clients in both state and federal courts and has extensive jury trial experience as both a civil litigator, criminal defense lawyer, and a criminal prosecutor for the city of Eugene.

Mike enjoys spending time with his wife Jacy and their daughter while working their small farm and winemaking. When not farming, he tends to spend his time whitewater rafting Class IV/V rivers and running waterfalls in a raft, most recently the White Salmon's 28-foot Big Brother Falls. Mike started playing rugby in 1992. Since 1998, Mike has been a member of Eugene Rugby Football Club, competing in the Pacific Northwest Rugby Football Union until he retired from playing in 2008