Sizemore trial delayed as new evidence emerges

Judge, attorneys agree Monday that beginning the case this week could lead to a mistrial
News Editor
    June 18, 2003 — On what was supposed to be the first day of former Madras City Administrator Bill Sizemore's criminal trial, Senior Judge Robert Morgan walked into a breezy courtroom and informed more than 30 potential jurors their service will be postponed. Again.
   Earlier Monday morning, Morgan upheld a request by the state to submit two new pieces of evidence District Attorney Peter Deuel hopes will help convince a jury that Sizemore unlawfully altered his contract before a series of events led to his firing and the ousting of former Mayor Marjean Whitehouse and two city councilors.
   Roger Hennagin, a Portland attorney representing Sizemore, argued against the admissibility of the two items. But after the judge ruled in the prosecution's favor, Hennagin indicated the decision would require him to call on more witnesses.
   "With new evidence and new witnesses, we were all afraid we couldn't finish this by Thursday," Hennagin said.
   After both the defense and prosecuting attorneys met in Morgan's chambers, the pro tem judge addressed the anxious jurors around 11:30 a.m.
   "It was very iffy if we could finish this case by Thursday evening if we started it this morning," the judge told the potential jurors.
   Sizemore's trial has been rescheduled to begin at 9 a.m., July 22. It is at least the third time the trial has been delayed.
   Four days had been set aside for the trial this week. If the case couldn't be tried within that time frame, it would have resulted in a mistrial.
   Morgan, a pro tem judge brought in from outside Jefferson County, is not available next week. The parties also faced a time crunch because the state's budget-strapped court system is not open on Fridays until after July 1.
   "When the trial was set, nobody was anticipating these preliminary motions this morning," Deuel said Monday.
   The morning delay, coupled with Hennagin's desire to call on additional witnesses, led to the decision to postpone.
   Sizemore, 57, is accused of six counts of first-degree forgery, one count of first-degree attempted aggravated theft and single counts of official misconduct and tampering with public records.
   Forgery and attempted aggravated theft are class C felonies, with each count punishable by up to five years in prison and $100,000 in fines.
   The catalyst for Monday's delay was a document obtained by the prosecution that it claims was authored by Sizemore. Titled "Chronology of Events," the state argues in court motions that it was mailed to Whitehouse recently. The document suggests Sizemore's contract with the city of Madras was signed on April 17, 2000, while the prosecution will argue at trial the contract was signed on April 14, court records show.
   Whitehouse is one of several individuals expected to testify at trial. Subpoenas also have been served to former city councilors Louis Peterson, David Kile and Keith Johnson, Wayne Schjoll and Lloyd Hindman, plus current councilors Bob Sjolund, Melanie Widmer, Frank Morton and Mayor Rick Allen.
   Several current and former city employees also are expected to take the witness stand.
   Sizemore was fired in February 2001 after a series of events that began when the public caught wind of his previous criminal conviction for embezzlement in the mid-1980s. He served 27 months in prison.
   In the fallout, Whitehouse was defeated in a landslide during the 2000 mayoral election, where Allen captured 80 percent of the vote as a write-in. Former councilors Schjoll and Hindman each were recalled soon after for allegedly having knowledge of Sizemore's criminal record, but not sharing it with the public.
   Last February, Sizemore filed a $1.7 million lawsuit against the city of Madras and several individuals, claiming defamation, unlawful termination and other charges related to his termination. That case is on hold pending his criminal trial.
   Sizemore is suing the city of Madras, current Mayor Rick Allen, former City Attorney Martin E. Hansen, plus four current city councilors and one former councilor. The suit says he is seeking to be reinstated to his former post as city administrator.
   When he was fired, Sizemore was denied severance pay and at the time promised he'd sue.
   According to a criminal indictment, Sizemore is accused of substituting pages in his contract. It alleges the former city administrator removed one provision in his contract and altered two others without authorization in an attempt to make it virtually impossible for the city to fire him.