• Jeffrey D. Barrar P.S. | Vancouver Defenders

    Jeffrey D. Barrar P.S. | Vancouver Defenders

  • Jeffrey D. Barrar P.S. | Vancouver Defenders

    Jeffrey D. Barrar P.S. | Vancouver Defenders


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Criminal Law

Jeffrey D. Barrar P.S. has grown to become the largest criminal defense firm in Southwest Washington. The firm has public contracts to represent indigent defendants in felony and misdemeanor cases and also represents privately retained clients.

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New on the Barrar Law blog...

Pitts wins DV trial in District Court

Attorney Taylor Pitts won an acquittal Aug. 24 in Clark County District Court for a client charged with domestic violence assault.

The alleged victim -- the client’s girlfriend and the mother of his two children -- did not show up for the trial. Since she did not show up to testify, the statement she wrote for police officers detailing the assault was not admissible.

The client was arrested April 23 after his 8-year-old stepson called 911 and said his dad had punched his mother. The client got on the phone with the dispatcher and said he’d been trying to leave the residence and his girlfriend wouldn’t let him leave.

Officers from the Vancouver Police Department responded and determined the client was the aggressor in the fight. They photographed the alleged victim’s injuries but did not photograph the client’s injuries. The client was charged with fourth-degree assault, a gross misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail.

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Mellen, Cognata win assault trial

Attorney Daniel Mellen won a trial Aug. 10 for a client accused of tasing his roommate with a stun gun.

Attorney Amber Cognata assisted Mellen during the one-day trial in Clark County District Court, and her help went beyond jury selection and questioning witnesses. In an effective move, Mellen had Cognata help demonstrate for the jury why the alleged victim’s claims didn’t make any sense.

The alleged victim said Mellen’s client jumped on his back and then tased him while hanging onto him.

That would suggest the injuries should have been higher on his body, Mellen said. And since his client is right-handed, he would have likely tased his roommate around his right shoulder.

But the alleged victim’s wounds were on the lower left part of his torso.

During closing argument, Mellen stood behind Cognata and showed the jury where he would strike her from that position.

His client’s story was that the roommate, who was taller and heavier, tackled him, pinned him to the floor and was punching him when he deployed his stun gun.

Mellen and Cognata got on the ground in the courtroom, facing each other, and Mellen acted out jabbing her with his right hand and the area most accessible, which was her left hip and the left side of her stomach.

The injuries, he told the jury, fit his client’s story better than the alleged victim’s story.

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Location, location, location

Neil Anderson and Marina Spencer won a trial in Clark County Superior Court for a client charged with one count of rape of a child in the first degree and two counts of child molestation in the first degree.

The jury returned the unanimous “not guilty” verdict on Aug. 18 after 5 ½ hours of deliberation.

Afterward, jurors said they didn’t even get around to discussing the details of the allegations. They didn’t make it that far because they couldn’t even agree the state had proved what is typically a very easy hurdle for the state to clear: jurisdiction.

The Clark County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office can only prosecute crimes committed in Clark County. During the four-day trial, none of the state’s witnesses identified a location in Clark County where the alleged abuse occurred.

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Anderson, Spencer win rape case

Attorneys Neil Anderson and Marina Spencer scored a huge victory in Clark County Superior Court this month, winning not-guilty verdicts for a client accused of raping his stepdaughter.

If convicted the client, 57, would have likely spent the rest of his life in prison.

During closing argument of the three-day trial, Spencer emphasized that no one could corroborate the alleged victim’s account, not even the state’s witnesses.

Spencer also highlighted a quote from a state's witness, who testified the alleged victim "seemed so much more put together and not the mess you would think.”

Spencer argued to the jury this was a telling observation given the alleged victim had claimed she had been raped and molested every day for six years starting at the age of 11, yet never exhibited any signs of distress. 

Spencer also implored the jury to think logically about the alleged victim’s testimony when she said her stepfather wanted it to be known that they were together in a relationship.

“Take a second and actually think about that logically,” Spencer said. “She testified that her 40, 50-year-old stepfather wanted it to be known that he was the boyfriend of a 13, 14-year-old? He wanted everyone in their community to know he was actively raping and molesting his 13-year-old stepdaughter? And yet, not a single state’s witness can testify to this? Not a single person that was around can say “Oh yeah, (the stepfather) and (the stepdaughter) were an item back when she was 13 or 14. I knew that was highly illegal, so I called the police and CPS.”

If you take that at face value, Spencer said, and assume the alleged victim is telling the truth, then there would have been an army of witnesses testifying the stepfather introduced himself as his stepdaughter’s boyfriend.

The client was charged with four counts of rape of a child and two counts of child molestation.

The jury acquitted him on the rape charges on July 13. Jurors were unable to reach an unanimous verdict on the child molestation charges, even after deliberating for eight hours.

Rather than go to trial again on the child molestation charges, a deputy prosecutor dismissed them July 27 after the client agreed to a no-contact order with his stepdaughter.

The case had been hanging over the client’s head for more than five years.

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