Wednesday, April 9, 2003
Hood River County attorney Teunis Wyers has been exonerated of “baseless accusations” filed against him by two Portland lawyers.
The Oregon Bar Association has dismissed allegations of ethical misconduct brought by Ralph Bloemers and Chris Winter of the Cascade Resources Advocacy Group.
“I don’t have a huge feeling of relief because I know that I didn’t do anything wrong, my personal and professional integrity is something that no one can take away from me,” said Wyers.
However, he does admit that it is a relief to be free from having to respond to CRAG’s “unfounded” claims brought before the Bar. Bloemers and Winter represent the Hood River Valley Residents Committee and one of its members, Mike McCarthy, in the current legal challenge over a 2002 land exchange between the county and Mt. Hood Meadows, Ltd. In December Wyers withdrew from the litigation out of “frustration” over the hours he was forced to spend defending himself.
CRAG declined to comment about the Bar’s denial of its conflict of interest allegations against Wyers.
Early last year, Bloemers and Winter took action independent of the HRVRC to level their first charge against the Hood River attorney. They contended that Wyers should not be involved in the legal issue because he had helped the HRVRC defeat a Meadows destination resort proposal nearly 25 years ago.
Wyers successfully defeated that claim by arguing that the current litigation had been filed over the county’s legislative action to undertake the land exchange with Meadows. He said the company did not even have a destination resort application on the table for consideration.
Winter and Bloemers then countered that Wyers had previously been corresponding with Meadows via e-mail about the mapping process for destination resort sites. Wyers then pointed out to the Bar that the e-mail in question had actually been addressed to his son by the same name who was working in the county planning department at the time it was sent.
At that time, Winter admitted that he did not know that Wyers had a son by the same name.
The third and final charge levied by CRAG asserts that Wyers used confidential information from a former client to gain advantage during questioning of McCarthy about his water rights claim. In December Wyers asked McCarthy, a Parkdale landowner who resides in the vicinity of the former county land, to provide information about the depth of his wells. That request followed McCarthy’s assertion that the 640 acres that was deeded to Meadows will eventually be used to support a destination resort that threatens his water supply.
Bloemers accused Wyers in a subsequent e-mail of violating the protected attorney client privilege when seeking the same information that he had previously been given by Mike’s father, the late Gerald McCarthy.
However, Teunis then pointed out to the Bar that paperwork used to support the latest claim against him was dated two years before he even began practicing law and was most likely a legal matter handled by his late father — a lawyer who also had the same name.
Again CRAG denied knowing that there had been a senior Tuenis Wyers in the legal profession.
Wyers said two letters dated from 1981 were then produced by the McCarthy family to show that he had written on their behalf to the county forester in a request that the public entity be careful with harvest activities near the family’s spring.
He said the McCarthys asked for any legal files of his business transactions with him, but he was unable to find anything to turn over to them in spite of an exhausting search. He said that research was made difficult by the fact that he has processed almost 4,000 client cases during the intervening 20 years.
“I may have done business in some capacity with the late Gerald McCarthy in the past but I simply have no recollection of it,” said Wyers.
He attended the March 27 court hearing over the land exchange as an observer and plans to track the case — although he has gladly turned all arguments over to Will Carey, county land-use counsel.
“It is frustrating that there is no avenue of recompense against someone who files a baseless accusation — no professional attorney would ever have made these claims,” said Wyers.