The trial of Gary Buford was off to a late start this week in Clackamas County Circuit Court.
Although the trial was set to begin Tuesday, challenges to judges' abilities to hear the case led to a one-day delay. Attorneys then encountered scheduling conflicts with witnesses, resulting in the trial's postponement. It's now set for May 8, with pre-trial motions scheduled for the day before.
Buford, 73, was indicted last year on charges of assault of a public safety officer, interference with a peace officer, obstruction of governmental administration and harassment, as well as resisting arrest.
The case stems from an incident on April 14, 2011, when police accompanied city staff members to Buford's home on Camelot Court in response to a complaint about tree cutting, a possible civil violation. After viewing stacked logs on Buford's 3.8-acre property from a nearby yard, a city code enforcement officer and arborist served a search warrant to Buford to measure stumps in his yard. They brought along a police officer.
The situation devolved during the visit, and police called for backup.
Eventually, police took Buford to the ground, and as they did so, one of the officers allegedly suffered a bite to his left pinky finger.
Oregon law allows any attorney or party to a circuit court case to request a different judge if they believe they otherwise wouldn't have a fair and impartial trial or hearing. No specific grounds for that belief have to be given, although they're generally limited to two judge disqualifications on a particular matter.
Tuesday morning, Buford was set to appear before Clackamas County Circuit Judge Jeffrey Jones. After Jones was disqualified, attorneys, the Bufords and others headed for Judge Thomas Rastetter's courtroom, only to have him declare a conflict with the case.
Then, after waiting through other case proceedings in Judge Steven Maurer's courtroom, David McDonald, Buford's attorney, announced he planned to file a challenge of Maurer's ability to hear the case.
That brought everyone back Wednesday to the courthouse, where Judge Robert Herndon agreed to the trial's delay.