Clatsop County District Attorney Joshua Marquis was named 2003 DUII Prosecutor of the Year at a ceremony in Tigard earlier this month.
The award, signed by Gov. Tud Kulongoski, is presented each year to the city, county, or state prosecutor who best exemplifies commitment to and action in the deterrence and prevention of impaired driving. The awards ceremony topped off a two-day conference of the DUII Multi-Disciplinary Training Task Force, attended by more than 300 police officers, prosecutors, probation officers and treatment pro-viders.
Marquis was singled out for his work on several pieces of DUII legislation, most particularly Senate Bill 301, which now requires drunk drivers who enter a diversion program to plead guilty as a condition of participation in the program.
"Before this bill someone could delay entry into diversion treatment for as much as a year. Now they have to make a decision within 30 days whether to go into the program or fight the charge," Marquis said. "Clatsop County handles more that 300 DUII cases each year and with the guilty plea diversion there will be many fewer trials and a reduced cost in both officer, lawyer, and court expenses."
Chuck Hayes, a retired State Police Captain who chairs the DUII Task Force, also cited Marquis as one of a very few elected district attorneys who continues to personally try DUII cases.
Marquis said that he has tried more than 300 DUII trials in his 20-plus years as a prosecutor and believes it is important to try them to keep in touch with the problems police officers face on the street and to make clear how seriously the District Attorney's Office takes DUII cases.
Last year Marquis and Deputy District Attorney Mark Lang convicted Astoria resident Kalen Painter of second-degree manslaughter for a fatal crash that killed 73-year-old Ruth Guenther in February 2003. Painter, who was also found guilty of two prior DUIIs from 2002, was sentenced to six years, three months in prison by Judge Paula Brownhill after the jury's guilty verdict.
"It is cases like Painter that show the need for an early recognition of an alcohol problem," Marquis said.
Under the new law a person who successfully completes the diversion program will continue to have the charge dismissed. The guilty plea only is used if the person flunks out of the diversion program.
Marquis said that the number of DUII cases his office tried decreased in 2003. Although part of that drop is "an unfortunate result of cuts in the Oregon State Police, part of the reason is that we are holding impaired drivers accountable," he said. "Our goal is be prosecuting even fewer of these cases by making the consequences as swift as certain as possible."