Former deputy DA admits he lied to cops

Former deputy DA admits he lied to cops

A former Jackson County deputy district attorney who resigned in lieu of termination last year and faced an Oregon State Bar investigation has admitted to lying, having a conflict of interest and behaving in a way that harmed the administration of justice.

Matt Chancellor, 37, left his job at the district attorney's office in October amid allegations of inappropriate sexual contact with a rape victim in a case he was working on. His departure and news stories about it prompted an investigation and a formal complaint against Chancellor by the Oregon State Bar.

The bar's complaint lays out details of Chancellor's behavior uncovered in its investigation. Chancellor's answer, filed Aug. 13, admits to all the allegations set out in the complaint.

The complaint states that Medford police investigating a rape report in August 2006 called the district attorney's office and consulted with Chancellor. He was assigned to the case and attended a lineup where the victim identified the rape suspect Oct. 12.

Later that evening, Chancellor encountered the victim and her friends at a downtown bar and drank alcohol with them before taking the victim to his house, where he engaged in sexual conduct with her.

He filed charges against the suspect the next day, despite what the complaint calls "significant risk that the representation of the State of Oregon would be materially limited by his personal interests."

Chancellor's interaction with the victim came to the attention of District Attorney Mark Huddleston, who met with Chancellor to discuss the issue Oct. 17. At that meeting, Chancellor lied and hid facts about his drinking and contact with the victim, the complaint states. When Huddleston asked police to investigate, Chancellor lied to the police investigator, too, the complaint states.

Preliminary state bar reports noted that in September 2005, Huddleston compelled Chancellor to sign an agreement promising to complete an alcohol rehabilitation program and abstain from drinking in order to keep his job. That month, Chancellor was cited on suspicion of driving under the influence of a prescription drug, but Klamath County prosecutors — called in to avoid a conflict of interest — determined that a criminal case against Chancellor couldn't be proven.

Chancellor told the bar he relapsed and began drinking again, but lied about it when Huddleston asked because he feared getting fired for violating the agreement.

The bar's formal complaint concludes that Chancellor violated rules set out for the professional conduct of lawyers. Specifically, he continued with a case despite a personal interest in it, engaged in dishonesty or misrepresentation that reflected adversely on his fitness to practice law, and acted in a way that was detrimental to the administration of justice.

In his answer to the bar complaint, Chancellor asks for a hearing or other chance to negotiate the sanctions he will face. Sanctions meted out by the bar can include reprimands, law license suspensions ranging from 30 days to five years, or permanent disbarment.

Chancellor asks that the hearing be set after he completes residential alcohol treatment at Hazelden Springbrook in Newberg.

Upon completion of rehab, Chancellor also faces criminal charges in separate cases.

In Jackson County Circuit Court, he faces charges of resisting arrest and disorderly conduct stemming from an altercation at his home in Central Point in February. In Clackamas County, he faces a charge of failure to appear at a hearing to revoke a DUII diversion agreement that he entered into in December. In Douglas County, he faces charges of attempting to elude police, reckless driving and driving under the influence of intoxicants after fleeing from Oregon State Police in May.

In a hearing Tuesday, Klamath County Deputy District Attorney Cole Chase, who is prosecuting Chancellor in Jackson County, asked that Chancellor be brought back to jail in Jackson County for violating his bail-release agreement, which called for him to avoid criminal activity.

Chase said that while Chancellor was supposed to be in treatment for his alcoholism, reports showed he was involved in a police pursuit in Douglas County that went on for "dozens of miles" and had him swerving into oncoming traffic.

"He is clearly a danger to the community," Chase said.

Chancellor's attorney, Carl Caplan, said his client had checked into a residential treatment program July 29 and planned to stay until cleared by the program.

"In order for him to not be a risk, he is exactly where he needs to be," Caplan said.

Caplan said that upon completing treatment, Chancellor plans to serve his jail time in Clackamas County and face the other consequences of his behavior.

At the suggestion of the defense and prosecuting attorneys, Josephine County Circuit Court Judge Pat Wolke on Tuesday added a no-intoxicants clause to Chancellor's bail agreement and a condition that he complete addiction treatment.

Reach reporter Anita Burke at 776-4485 or

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