A love of law and justice
Wade Whiting can't remember a time in his life when he didn't want to be an attorney.
But looking back, there is one moment that he figures set his career path in stone.
"When I read my first John Grisham novel at the age of 12, I was hooked," he said.
Every career paper he wrote focused on being an attorney. In high school, he started a mock trial club and recruited local attorneys to coach the team.
"When I was in college, every focus I had was on preparing to go to law school," Whiting recalls. "So really, it was a dream realized when I passed the bar."
He admits that practicing law in real life isn't as exciting as the Grisham novels he continues to enjoy, but he still thoroughly enjoys practicing criminal law and "working to serve the community in the interest of justice."
Whiting was officially appointed the new Crook County District Attorney last week, filling the vacancy of Daina Vitolins, who was likewise appointed to fill a vacancy at the circuit court judge level.
"Really, I am more humbled than anything," he said, noting that he was appointed by Gov. Kate Brown after meeting with a panel of county government and law enforcement officials. "It was a really good opportunity for me … to really share with them my vision for Crook County in the future if I was appointed district attorney and had the opportunity to lead the county as one of the top law enforcement officials. Getting their endorsement before going to the governor's office was really important to me."
Whiting graduated from Camas High School in southwest Washington in 2001 and then moved on to Brigham Young University, then University of Kansas School of Law, where he earned his juris doctorate degree in 2010.
He first worked at the Madras firm Glenn, Reeder, Gassner & Whiting, LLP, advising businesses, litigating family law disputes, and defending indigent individuals accused of crimes. Then in 2013, he joined the Jefferson County District Attorney's Office, working as a prosecutor under Steve Leriche. He will leave the office as a senior deputy district attorney.
"I have always had a focus on protecting the most vulnerable in the community, that being children," Whiting said. "When I was hired to be a prosecutor in Jefferson County, that was a big emphasis for me. I do child dependencies, which are when the Department of Human Services steps in and removes children from parents."
He added that he prosecutes child sex abuse cases and physical child abuse cases and has served on Jefferson County's multidisciplinary team. The group of government and law enforcement professionals meet regularly to review child abuse cases and brainstorm ways to prevent future abuse.
Currently, Whiting is pulling double duty. His oath of office is set to take place on Oct. 27, and between now and then, he is busy trying to ease the transfer for both the Jefferson and Crook County DA's offices.
"I carry a pretty heavy case load in Jefferson County, so I want to make sure I am winding things down here, making appropriate arrangements for the transition," he said. "While I am doing that, I am also working on getting things in order in Crook County. So I am more or less working two jobs."
Meanwhile, Whiting and his wife, Mykle, are busy listing their Madras house and making an offer on a home in Prineville, a community already familiar to the couple and their four young children.
"My wife's family resides in Crook County. We own some property off of the Crooked River (near Post) where we have recreated for years," Whiting said. "Also, when I was in private practice as a defense attorney, I practiced in Crook County real frequently."
Now 35 years old and seven years into his law career, Whiting still enjoys life as an attorney. He happily points out that his workdays are never boring.
"Every day I have new police reports that come in, new cases. I get to know new people. I get to negotiate cases with attorneys," he said. "It's exciting, it's fast-paced — at times stressful, but I feel as a prosecutor I really make a difference in the community, and that's what I love about it."
When Whiting leaves the office or is away from the courtroom, he keeps busy with several athletic-oriented hobbies. He loves to play basketball, and he and his wife compete in triathlons.
"We train — we try to be year-round, but some seasons are better than others," he says with a laugh.
Also, with children ages 8, 6, 3 and 1, he and his wife stay very busy keeping up with all of the sports, piano, dance and church activities their kids enjoy.
"We rarely have a dull moment in our house," he remarked.
Once in Prineville and settled into his new district attorney role, Whiting looks forward to he and his family immersing themselves in the Crook County community.
"My wife and I are a pretty dynamic team. We have a lot to offer in the community. We are looking to get involved in as many civic clubs and organization and school activities as possible," he said. "We are excited to get to know all of the people of Crook County and make it our home."