Jackson County loses another lawyer

Jackson County's lead attorney has abruptly resigned, becoming the third high-profile lawyer to leave the county counsel's office in three years.

Doug McGeary, who turned in his resignation Friday, said there was no issue that prompted the move.

"It was a personal decision," he said. "I don't want to go into it too much."

McGeary, 51, said he didn't have any immediate plans other than spending more time with his wife and two children. He said he was considering other opportunities but didn't want to discuss them yet.

McGeary, who lives in Medford, worked for the county since 1989 and had an annual salary of $88,192.

In February 2006, Mike Jewett resigned from the county counsel position to return to private practice. In 2005, senior county counsel Steve Rinkle resigned to take a job with Pacific Retirement Services Inc.

The county counsel's office provides legal advice to the commissioners and other departments, both internally and during public meetings.

McGeary said there was no particular incident or issue that led to his decision. "It was just my own personal things I wanted to work out," he said.

He said he had previously talked with the commissioners about the possibility of resigning, so he didn't think it would be a surprise.

In his resignation letter, McGeary said he appreciated his time spent with the county.

"New opportunities await me but I will always miss being part of the county family," he wrote.

Commissioner C.W. Smith, who has known McGeary for 20 years, said, "We were shocked and saddened by his departure."

Smith said McGeary's resignation didn't reflect on his job performance, adding there weren't any problems that led to his resignation.

"Heavens no," Smith said. "He's left a good legacy."

Smith suggested that one reason for losing counsel staff over the past two years was the potential for better pay in the private sector.

McGeary, like Jewett, will continue to perform legal work for the county on a contractual basis.

The county has appointed Allie O'Connor, assistant county counsel, to take over in an interim capacity.

Smith said it could take six months or longer to conduct a national search to find a replacement for McGeary.

O'Connor, who started working in the counsel's office in June 2006, said she hadn't decided if she would apply for the position permanently.

"Right now I'm just working on making sure the office is stabilized," she said.

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 776-4476 or dmann@mailtribune.com.

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