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St. Helens approves contracts for temporary court services

Services likely used in case involving former St. Helens Softball Association president


The St. Helens City Council unanimously approved personal service agreements with a pro tem prosecutorial services provider and a pro tem judicial services provider, Wednesday, March 16.

The City Council voted to approve service agreements for temporary or short-term court work, or pro tem services, with Clayton Lance, a St. Helens attorney, and Nicholas Wood, the Scappoose Municipal Court judge, during the meeting.

Mayor Randy Peterson was absent.

While Wednesday’s approval of the contracts was routine in nature, City Administrator John Walsh said the city would likely be using the services of Lance and Wood in the near future.

A municipal court assistant to city prosecutor Melanie Payne said Thursday morning the court be using the pro tem prosecutor and judge to move forward with the case of Jeffrey Kroll, a St. Helens man charged with one count of furnishing alcohol to a minor.

Kroll also served at the president of the St. Helens Softball Association before stepping down after his arrest in November.

Kroll’s attorney, Jim Huffman, pressed the City Council in early February to appoint a pro tem judge and pro tem prosecutor to the case, citing a conflict of interest on behalf of an involved party in the case.

Huffman did not respond to multiple requests for comment on this story by press time Thursday.

During a pretrial conference for Kroll in March, Huffman refused to set any future court dates with Municipal Court Judge Cindy Phillips, citing her lack of jurisdiction over the case. On Thursday morning, Payne said court staff was working on setting a new pretrial conference date for Kroll.

The city often uses pro tem services when the municipal court judge takes time off or is ill. However, the services of the pro tem prosecutor or judge can also be used in cases where a conflict of interest may arise. Walsh said he has the authority to determine when those situations occur and whether or not the city will use a pro tem judge or prosecutor.