By Nathalie Hardy • Columnist • 

Appeal fails to revive state bar case

The complaints were filed by defense counsel John Henry Hingson over their conduct in a case resulting in dismissal of a drunk driving charge against his client. He appealed the original dismissal, but was not successful in overturning it.

Hingson accused Sanai and Videtich of conspiring to withhold, and then withholding, negative information from the arresting deputy’s personnel file in a Newberg man’s drunk driving case. He also accused Sanai of lying under oath when he said a review he conducted revealed nothing in the file that might help the defense cause, thus be subject to discovery.

At defense prodding, the judge ordered the file turned over to him for review in chambers. He concluded it did, indeed, contain such material and criticized Sanai for making statements to the contrary.

But the board said there was no evidence that Sanai knowingly and unlawfully concealed the material from the defense, or that Videtich had any knowledge or played any role. It suggested Sanai could have simply not come across the material or not reached the same conclusion about it.

“Furthermore, there is no evidence that Sanai’s conduct caused any harm or potential harm to the administration of justice,” the board said, as the material ultimately came to the court’s attention anyway.

The board serves as a de facto grand jury for the state bar, determining which cases merit consideration of formal charges and which not. Its appeal decisions are final.

However, Sanai is still facing disbarment proceedings over a personal family matter in the state of Washington, where he is also licensed.

The Washington State Bar has twice voted to revoke his license to practice, citing “blatant misconduct.” Sanai has appealed twice to the Washington Supreme Court in an effort to fend off disbarment. 

He won a 5-4 decision on procedural grounds the first time. His latest and final appeal is scheduled for hearing by the high court on March 21. 

He is also facing disciplinary proceedings in Oregon for allegedly failing to inform the Oregon State Bar of the Washington case, which dates back nine years. He contends he notified the Oregon State Bar in 2004, but the bar has no record of it.

Finally, he faces possible disbarment in Oregon under reciprocal agreements between the state bar associations.

Disbarment in Washington would not automatically mean expulsion in Oregon, but the two states have traditionally given findings by the other considerable weight. And Oregon disbarment would render him unable to continue representing the county in legal matters.

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