Columbia County district attorney hires new chief deputy
Columbia County District Attorney Jeff Auxier announced the hiring of Kristen Hoffmeyer as a new chief deputy DA this week.
Hoffmeyer was sworn in on June 1, joining John Berg as chief deputies.
Hoffmeyer has been a prosecutor for more than 25 years, starting out in Arizona, according to a press release from Auxier. Hoffmeyer spent well over a decade in roles in two Arizona counties. She moved to Oregon nine years ago and began working as a senior assistant attorney general in the criminal division of the Oregon Department of Justice, with a focus on public corruption, internet crimes against children, and homicide cases, the press release stated.
Over Hoffmeyer's career, she has taken 25 murder cases to a jury trial.
The vast majority of criminal cases don't go to trial. In circuit courts throughout Oregon in 2020, less than 3% of felony cases went to trial, state data shows.
One of the functions of the DOJ's criminal justice division is to assist district attorneys in Oregon's 36 counties. Hoffmeyer served as special counsel in Columbia County, assisting Auxier in the cases against three people who were involved in the murder of Apache Hightower.
Hoffmeyer also served as the interim district attorney for Columbia County in 2017 after the previous DA, Steve Atchison, retired after 18 years. Atchison had appointed Hoffmeyer as special counsel in the Apache Hightower case just a few months before he retired.
She stayed in the role for less than two months before Auxier was appointed district attorney.
The county now has a district attorney, two chief deputy DAs and four deputy DAs. Auxier said that when a deputy DA moved to Eugene, he and Berg viewed the opening as an opportunity to "create a new leadership team."
"John has over two decades of experience in the local criminal justice system and Kristen has substantial trial experience practicing in counties throughout the state. The two chief deputies have different backgrounds that complement each other very well. Their combined experience makes our entire office better," Auxier explained.
Auxier said the hiring decision was made with input from a panel of community representatives, including Columbia County Sheriff Brian Pixley; Columbia County trial court administrator Crystal Reeves; SAFE of Columbia County executive director Ellyn Bell, which provides resources for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault; DA's Office manager Dawn Hunt; and Paige Clarkson, Marion County district attorney and president of the Oregon District Attorneys Association.
"The entire panel was enthusiastic about bringing Kristen to Columbia County," Pixley said in the press release. "I was impressed we attracted a candidate with her experience and reputation."
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