Gushwa requests a transfer to Hermiston


Umatilla County District Attorney Dean Gushwa is again trying to get back to work. The embattled elected official filed a request Friday asking the court to allow him to work out of offices in the Stafford Hansell Government Building in Hermiston.

A judge has prohibited Gushwa from having contact with employees at the district attorney’s office in the Umatilla County Courthouse in Pendleton pending the outcome of a criminal misconduct case against him. The state also has charged Gushwa with 11 counts of contempt of court for allegedly disobeying that order.

Gushwa has been on leave since Aug. 26, 2010, when an Oregon Department of Justice investigation into his conduct became public. That led the DOJ to charge Gushwa with five counts of first-degree official misconduct, a misdemeanor in Oregon. The state has accused Gushwa of intimidating and threatening two women assistants in the district attorney's office to have sexual relations with him from late 2008 to mid 2010.

Gushwa has pleaded not guilty to both sets of charges and has denied any wrongdoing. He has stated the relationships were consensual. The two women have threatened to sue Gushwa for his actions and sue the county and the state for not protecting them from Gushwa.

Gushwa filed the new motion himself. His attorney, Will Perkinson, said Gushwa is eager to get back to work to make sure the office is properly handling cases.

Since going on leave, the justice department has been managing the local district attorney’s office. 

Perkinson also said the “complaining witnesses” are only in the Pendleton office. If Gushwa were in Hermiston, he could work without having contact with the two women employees.

Given that and the 30 miles distance between the two offices, Gushwa asserted in a memorandum supporting his request, there “is no rational reason” not to allow him to work in Hermiston.

Gushwa also added he soon will need to submit a budget and there are “other urgent reasons” he needs access to the office.

DOJ spokesman Tony Green said the state will oppose Gushwa’s request.

Circuit Court Judge Gregory Baxter of Baker County is presiding over the Gushwa cases. Baxter shot down an earlier request from Gushwa to return to work. The new motion doesn’t yet have a hearing date.

Gushwa’s misconduct trial is to run the week of March 14, and the contempt of court case goes to trial a month later.

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