Captain Jeff Samuels
Fish & Wildlife Division
Photograph link valid 30 days - Source: Oregon State Police
Award Photograph (Left to right: OSP Fish and Wildlife Division Captain Jeff Samuels, Baker County DDA Chris Storz, ODFW Director Roy Elicker, and Baker County DDA Michael Spaulding)
The Baker County District Attorney was selected recently to receive the fifth presentation of an award to a prosecutor in Oregon for their support, hard work, dedication, and efforts in enforcing wildlife protection laws and for their commitment to the preservation of Oregon's wildlife. Sponsored by Oregon sportsmen's groups, the award was presented August 16, 2012, by the Oregon State Police (OSP) and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) at the Oregon District Attorney Association (ODAA) 2012 Summer Conference held in Sunriver.
Oregon sportsmen's groups, which consist of several volunteer outdoor enthusiast groups opposed to the unlawful and unethical taking of wildlife, sponsored the "2011 Wildlife Prosecutor of the Year" award in partnership with the OSP Fish and Wildlife Division and ODFW.
Captain Jeff Samuels, OSP Fish and Wildlife Division Director, and ODFW Director Roy Elicker presented the award to Baker County District Attorney Matthew Shirtcliff at the ODAA Conference. Baker County Deputy District Attorney's Chris Storz and Michael Spaulding accepted the award on behalf of DA Shirtcliff as he was unable to attend the ceremony.
Matt Shirtcliff was elected Baker County District Attorney in 2001 and is currently serving his third term. He is the primary prosecutor for major felony cases in the county, including several homicide prosecutions. In addition to prosecuting these high profile crimes, DA Shirtcliff has prosecuted fish and wildlife crimes with the same passion he has for other major crimes.
Samuels praised DA Shirtcliff for his steadfast commitment to protecting Oregon's natural resources. "Whether the fish and wildlife crime involved the use of DNA, ballistic forensics, or treaty law, he has never showed any shyness for the courtroom if the case warranted full prosecution," he said.
DA Shirtcliff is available to local Fish and Wildlife troopers despite his busy schedule, remaining accessible to troopers after hours and on weekends to review affidavits in support of fish and wildlife crimes. He has accompanied the local troopers in the field to better understand the case being prosecuted and traveled with a Fish and Wildlife Division lieutenant to meet with a contentious landowner who was demanding prosecution on trespass cases during hunting seasons while failing to meet any basic standard of delineating property boundaries. DA Shirtcliff took time to view the property and provide the landowner with legal tools for him to use to allow the DA's office to prosecute those cases.
In 2011, Mr. Shirtcliff personally prosecuted a case involving a defendant who unlawful killed and possessed two bighorn sheep in the Lookout Mountain Unit. On numerous occasions during the investigation and subsequent prosecution he met with the troopers to better understand the myriad of issues surrounding the case. Immediately recognizing the monumental legal implications of the case, he assigned himself as the primary prosecutor spending numerous hours researching the case and finding an expert witness to testify during trial. The prosecution's team developed a strategy that resulted in four guilty verdicts and sentencing of the defendant to twenty days in jail, $13,600 restitution to ODFW, and $2,266 in other fines and fees.
The mission of the Oregon State Police Fish and Wildlife Division could not be accomplished without the hard work and commitment of Oregon's District Attorneys. "I cannot over emphasize the Fish and Wildlife Division's appreciation for DA Shirtcliff's dedication to prosecuting those who violate Oregon's wildlife laws and his prosecutorial team's efforts towards protecting our wildlife and natural resources" said Samuels.
"Baker County is a favorite destination among hunters, anglers and wildlife viewers," said Director Roy Elicker. "Mr. Shirtcliff's strong commitment to prosecuting fish and wildlife crimes ensures that Baker County's natural resources are protected for everyone to enjoy."
On behalf of Oregon sportsmen's groups, DA Shirtcliff was presented with a wildlife print in appreciation of his professional achievement in this area.
Oregon sportsmen's groups are comprised of several volunteer groups including Oregon Hunters Association and Oregon Foundation for North American Wild Sheep.
The primary responsibility of the OSP Fish and Wildlife Division is enforcement of fish, wildlife, and commercial fishing laws and protection of natural resources. The members of the Fish and Wildlife Division also enforce traffic, criminal, boating, livestock and environmental protection laws, in addition to responding to emergency situations.