Portland lawyer Andrew Long probed for possible witness-tampering
Eviction cases normally are humdrum affairs, but last week Portland lawyer Edward Andrew Long asked for a full jury to hear the case in which he fought to keep his downtown Portland apartment. He planned subpoenas for bank records and text messages, and to call witness testimony from across the country.
But in the end, he lost decisively. And now it appears Long could lose his bar license as well, or at least have it suspended, as a result of an administrative probe into whether he sought to improperly influence witness testimony in the case as well as committed other criminal acts including harassment and stalking.
Long, who goes by his middle name, denied all wrongdoing and defended his fitness as a lawyer in emails to the Portland Tribune, calling the allegations against him "unfounded and malicious."
But to some, the story of the former law school teacher shows how dangerous a law degree can be in the wrong hands.
"I believe very strongly that Mr. Long should not be practicing law," said Bonnie Richardson of the firm Richardson Wright, who represented Long's landlord in the case. "I am not an expert on mental illness or substance abuse, but I believe, based on my interactions with him and reading all of his submissions and text messages, that he has a problem with substance abuse and with mental illness. Nevertheless, it does not excuse his complete disregard for the rules of professional conduct and his abuse of the power he has as a licensed lawyer."
Lawyer Beth Creighton, who represented a tenant in the building — one who is one of three female former legal assistants of Long's to initiate complaints against him in the past year — said the case is appropriate for action by legal regulators at the Oregon State Bar.
"Because Mr. Long continues to flout the disciplinary rules and has indicated he has no intention of stopping, I predict the Bar will take strong and decisive action to protect the public from such unscrupulous practices."
Assault claim sparked notice
On Sept. 5, Long's landlord, TMT Development, filed an eviction notice against Long, saying that a woman had been found outside the front door of the Southwest Ninth Avenue building crying, and said she "had been hit in the face and neck" by Long.
The case came as Long, who's handled personal injury and other litigation in Portland, is going through a bitter custody battle in Florida. He discussed that repeatedly in texts and emails he exchanged with the onetime female friend he allegedly hit, as well as the former legal assistant who moved into the same apartment building.
Long feared that being kicked out of his $1,175-a-month apartment and the alleged assault would be used to keep him from seeing his three children.
He sent thousands of texts to his former legal assistant, among other things asking her to testify he would never hurt anyone.
"Are you willing to say I would never do anything like that?" Long texted her after receiving the eviction notice with the claim of assault. "I sure do need a friend. ... I could be doing so much for you."
Texts show he held out the promise of a good law school reference to his former assistant. He wanted her to undercut the alleged assault victim's credibility in court. "I can walk you through testimony that will show all those things and tell the story," he wrote.
He also warned of negative repercussions if the former assistant didn't help, saying in a text, "if you go against me on housing or my kids, we have a serious problem. ... if I absolutely must, I'll attack your character and, sadly, you made that very easy because you have not been careful."
His former assistant wrote back, "I just want to be left out of all this drama that has nothing to do with me!"
"Changing horses in mid-stream will get you killed if the water is too fast," he said in another message.
He exchanged similar texts with the woman who'd accused him of hitting her.
"Are you saying I hit you?," he asked.
"I'm not lying," she responded. "You did."
Long responded, "I will pull all your medical records and all your exs," according to the texts provided by the Bar.
"You want me to lie?" she responded.
Later, on Sept. 20, the woman appeared to reverse course and go along with Long..
"If I need to I'll take the stand Andrew and refute everything or whatever hopefully no (sic) perjuring myself."
In court, Long argued that his landlord had engaged in "sex discrimination" against him.
But Long's former legal assistant and former friend did not testify on his behalf. His female friend repeated her claim of having been hit in the face and neck, leaving a distinctive mark that was captured in a photo by building security.
The jury found against Long.
Bar could move fast
Now the Bar appears to be moving "swiftly and forcefully" to deal with him, said Richardson, the lawyer.
Later this month the Bar will consider seven active matters against Long, including his rejection of a Bar program meant for addiction problems after a Columbia County judge accused him of showing up drunk for trial — which Long denied.
Other complaints include an accusation he over-charged, and mishandled client funds.
The Bar has not yet opened an investigation of a lawsuit filed last fall by another former employee who sued him for back wages and retaliation, saying he "requested sexual favors," and fired her after she said no. That former employee also reported that he discussed having sexual relations with his clients, which would violate Bar ethics rules.
In emails to his former legal assistant and neighbor, Long noted that he may well be disbarred over the case, according to records disclosed to the Tribune.
But he told the paper he intends to appeal his eviction case, adding, "I fully expect to be vindicated."