Tuesday, December 16, 2008
POLK COUNTY -- The county's newly-hired deputy chief district attorney brings a breadth of experience and more aggressive approach toward criminal prosecutions, Stan Butterfield, Polk district attorney-elect said.
Butterfield said he spoke to five candidates before selecting Sally Avera, 58, of Dallas last week. She'll start her job when Butterfield takes office in January.
Avera replaces outgoing deputy chief Mark Heslinga, who plans to enter private practice in Keizer.
She has worked since Dec. 2007 as senior assistant attorney for the Oregon Department of Justice on direct and collateral appeals in criminal -- mostly felony -- and civil cases.
Those resume items are just the latest in a legal career that has spanned trial and appellate courts during the past 30 years, Avera said.
"My experience range is between defending chickens at large and death penalty cases," she said.
Butterfield said he has worked with Avera from the other side of the aisle in cases in Salem Municipal Court in the past.
"I've been impressed with her knowledge of the law and how thoroughly she prepares for her cases," Butterfield said. "I believe she'll set a more aggressive tone."
Butterfield aid the veteran will also aid in training and mentoring young attorneys to be more effective trial advocates and prosecutors.
Avera earned her law degree from Willamette University in 1977, and worked in general practice afterward until 1984. From 1985 to 1998, she was an attorney and later an administrator for the state's Office of Public Defense Services, where she supervised a staff of 36.
Avera was a Polk County Deputy District Attorney from 1998 to 1999 and was a staff attorney for the Worker's Compensation Board.
From 2005 to 2007, she served as Salem assistant city attorney as that city's only prosecutor during that period. With the DOJ, she represents the state on death penalty matters appealed to the Oregon Supreme Court.
"I welcome the opportunity to return to Polk County" as an attorney, Avera said. "I believe I have something to offer that's needed there."
Sally Avera was married to current Polk County Circuit Court Judge Fred Avera for 35 years before the two divorced in May.
Beyond Sally Avera's hiring, Butterfield said his office is in the midst of appointments for all five deputy district attorney positions -- which happens whenever a new district attorney is elected.
Butterfield said all five current deputies have reapplied for those slots, and that he's opened the process outside the office, as well.
"I haven't seen a final list, but we do have a significant number of applicants," he said.