Chappell files for district attorney
- Shelby Case
- Central Oregonian - Features
>Prineville resident will face Daina Vitolins in the raceCiting his extensive legal experience, Bend lawyer Steve Chappell has filed for Crook County district attorney.
Chappell, who lives in Prineville with his wife, filed his papers on about March 6.
Chappell is running for the office against Daina Vitolins, who is currently working at the district attorney's office as a deputy district attorney.
"That is a non-partisan office and because there are only two of them, whichever candidate garners the most votes is the winner," said Crook County Clerk Dee Berman. "And they are duly elected. They become elected at the May primary."
Chappell outlined his reasons for filing.
"Number one, there was the opening with Gary Williams filing for circuit court judge," the lawyer said. "Number two, I've lived here for 26 years, but I've had an office in Bend for 19 years."
He and his wife have four children, two of whom are still in college and two who have graduated from college, and Chappell believes this was a good time in his life to consider running for the position.
Chappell also noted his experience as a trial attorney and as a judge, adding that he has experience hiring and firing employees.
"And giving good customer service is something I can bring to the office as well," Chappell said.
He outlined some of his goals and priorities, if he is elected as district attorney.
"Number one, I think it's important for the district attorney's office to be tough on crime, but still fair and sometimes they tend to emphasize the tough part and kind of forget the fair part," the candidate said. "I think it's also really important to protect victims' rights and make them whole."
Chappell used the example of a young man, who in about 2002, used a BB gun to shoot car and business windows out in Prineville. This included shooting the windows out of Chappell's oldest son's vehicle.
"And we never received a dime," he said, adding that the man is still periodically in trouble with the law.
"We still read his name in your paper," Chappell said, smiling.
"Also, I think it's important to look at each case individually, based on the facts of the case and about the circumstances of the defendant as well," he said.
Chappell also was invited to work as a mentor for the Crook County High School mock trials program back in 2002. He said there can be an educational component to the district attorney's office as well, teaching high school, middle school and elementary youth about court procedures and "what can happen to them if they commit a crime."
Chappell received his bachelor of arts degree in December 1978 from Reed College, majoring in economics and minoring in psychology. He graduated from the Northwestern School of Law with a doctor of jurisprudence cum laude in May 1982. He was admitted to the Oregon State Bar later that year and was admitted to the U.S. District Court in February 1985. Additionally, Chappell was admitted as judge pro tempore in the circuit and district courts between January 1995 and April 2009.
He worked as a law clerk from May 1981 to July 1982 for Portland attorney Dennis Skarstad. From August 1982 to November 1983, he was an associate attorney with Powers & Dorman, Attorneys at Law in Prineville. He had his own offices in Prineville from December 1983 to December 1989. The candidate for district attorney was also a partner from January 1990 to December 1996 with Hendrix, Chappell & Brinich, Attorneys at Law in Bend.
Chappell has had his own law offices from January 1997 to the present in Bend, emphasizing family law, criminal defense, personal injury, real estate business and corporate law, consumer law, wills and trials. He was the local counsel for Les Schwab Tires from July 1988 to August 1990.
Chappell worked as a hearings officer from April 1995 to March 2006 in Deschutes County. He served as the pro tem judge between April 1995 to March 2008 and was certified for circuit court statewide, serving in Crook, Jefferson and Deschutes counties.
Additionally, Chappell has also been involved in community activities. From August 1993 to January 2000, he was a founding board member and vice-president of the Ronald McDonald House in Bend. He volunteered as a coach from August 1994 to October 2001 for youth soccer and basketball in the Crook County Parks and Recreation District. Chappell was chairman and a member of the Central Oregon Indigent Defense Committee from July 1988 to January 1990, and was chairman and member of the Central Oregon Defenders from October 1992 to December 1995.