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Judge rightly delayed release of Butts mental health records

by: Archive photo

Columbia County Circuit Judge Ted Grove made the right call when he delayed release of accused murderer Daniel A. Butts' first mental health evaluation to the public, despite the Oregonian newspaper's push to have those records made public earlier.

Grove said he rescinded his initial order to release the mental health evaluation conducted in April because there was doubt it would provide a complete picture of Butts' mental state.

For now, the records will stay sealed under a protective order until the 21-year-old Butts returns from the Oregon State Hospital. Butts was transported to the hospital in early July to undergo a comprehensive mental health evaluation in the lead up to a hearing that will determine whether he is fit to aid and assist in his trial.

The results of his mental health evaluation are expected to be released to the public on Sept. 19, little more than a week before the hearing.

In a trial of this stature - one that is certain to capture the attention of regional and even national media - in which the scales of justice for fallen Rainier Police Chief Ralph Painter have yet to tip, we can afford patience.

Though the evaluation could provide some answers to the many questions surrounding Butts' alleged deadly action against Painter in January, in the end its release to the public satisfies only curiosity for curiosity's sake and has no bearing on the substance or outcome of the pending trial.

We can wait.

As we learned Monday, the once spare field of candidates running to replace disgraced U.S. Rep. David Wu has ballooned to a whopping 13 candidates - eight Democrats and five Republicans.

The broad candidate field is a welcome scene. It provides the First Congressional District, which includes all of Columbia County, a legitimate choice.

And choice, considering the sad state of affairs in Washington D.C., for who will provide the district with voice in Congress has tremendous value.

In light of the quick timeline Gov. Kitzhaber established to replace Wu, The Spotlight is encouraging its readers to learn and digest as much as possible about each of the candidates before the Nov. 8 primary in the ramp up to the Jan. 31 special election.