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Sirens & Gavels

Posts tagged: abortion

From ‘Baby Ryan’ fame to disbarment

The Washington Supreme Court disbarred a prominent Spokane attorney Thursday after his client complained the lawyer charged him $25,000 to settle a minor dispute over the lease price of a car.

The high court ruled unanimously to uphold the disbarment of Russell Van Camp, who has represented National Right to Life advocates and anti-abortion activists throughout the West. The court said he misled his client about the nature of the $25,000 fee and didn’t follow through with the client’s desire to quickly settle the case.

Read the rest of Tom Clouses's story here.

Van Camp (pictured in 2004) gained national attention in 1994 when he took on the case of a baby born with dead kidneys, possible brain damage and other health problems. Doctors tried to withhold lifesaving dialysis and persuaded the family to let the baby die, but they hired Van Camp instead, and the case gained national media attention.

A 1994 Spokesman-Review profile of Van Camp described him as not being known in Spokane legal circles for his legal mind, rather “Van Camp relies on his people skills.”

“I have maximized the average intelligence I have,” he said at the time. “A good trial lawyer’s an actor upon the stage. I’m just a glorified vacuum cleaner salesman.”

In response to discipline by the Washignton State Bar Association, Van Camp said in 1994 that the association and other attorney were cliquish, jealous of his practice and bitter about losing to him.

A Pat Robertson delegate to the 1988 Republican National Convention, Van Camp said he also believes he’s unpopular because he’s one of the country’s few Christians who have made lawyering a success.

“I make no apologies for the person I am. I yam what I yam,” Van Camp says in a bad Popeye impression. “I’m winning and making money.”

Read the full profile from December 1994 here.

Abortionist threat may bring home detention

A Spokane man could serve his sentence on home dention after pelading guilty Wednesday to threatening a Colorado doctor who offers late-term abortions three weeks after the killing of a Kansas doctor who also provided the procedure, according to a plea agreement.

Donald Hertz, 70, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Spokane to one count of violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act and one count of transmitting a threat in interstate commerce.

The charges carry up to six years in federal prison and up to $350,000 fine at his Oct. 27 sentencing, but the plea agreement says prosecutors won’t oppose Hertz’s request to serve an incarceration sentence in home detention.

Hertz admitted that he intentionally intimidated Dr. William Hern of the Boulder Abortion Clinic and his employees. According to court records, Hertz contacted the clinic and stated that two of his associates were driving to Boulder, Colo., to kill members of the doctor’s family.

Hertz made the threat just after the May 2009 killing of Dr. George Tiller, a Wichita, Kan., physician who was one of a few doctors in the nation who performed late-term abortions.

“The defendant’s conviction should sent a clear message to others who would carry out similar criminal acts that they will be brought to justice and held accountable for their actions,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas E. Perez said in a news release.

Past coverage:

Aug. 28, 2009:  Threat to abortion doctor may have stemmed from news article

Man in abortion-clinic threat to plead guilty

A Spokane man accused of threatening to kill family members of a Colorado abortion doctor is scheduled to plead guilty to federal charges.

Donald Hertz, 70, is scheduled to enter the plea on April 5. He was too ill to attend a plea hearing that had been scheduled today in Denver, according to court documents.

Hertz is required to attend the court hearings in person after a judge denied his request to transfer to the case to Eastern Washington District Court. His doctors have written letters saying that travel and Colorado’s high elevation could be hazardous to Hertz’s ongoing medical issues.

Hertz was charged in August for a phone call authorities say he made on June 23 to the Boulder Abortion Clinic that threatened members of Dr. Warren Hern’s family. Hern is a friend of slain abortion doctor George Tiller.

Two days before Hertz allegedly made the threats, The Spokesman-Review ran a front page story detailing Hern’s late-term abortion practice and the increase in business he’s seen since Tiller’s murder.

Hertz is charged with making an interstate threat and violating a 1994 law that protects access to reproductive health services. He faces up to six years in prison.

Past coverage:

Spokane man accused of threatening Colorado abortion doctor

Plea deal mulled in abortionist threat case

DENVER (AP) — A Spokane man accused of threatening relatives of a Colorado doctor who performs late-term abortions is considering a plea deal.

Federal court documents filed in Denver said Donald Hertz indicated he was willing to accept the offer with minor modifications.

His attorney Russell Van Camp said Wednesday he doesn’t want Hertz to go to jail. Hertz is accused of calling the Boulder Abortion Clinic in Boulder, Colo., on June 23 and threatening to kill members of Dr. Warren Hern’s family.

The call came within weeks of the slaying of Dr. George Tiller, who operated a similar clinic in Wichita, Kan.

Hertz faces charges of making an interstate threat and of violating a law protecting access to reproductive health service.

Read a previous story here.

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