Ashley Anderson

Former Portland Police Chief Larry O'Dea, who resigned this summer after news broke that he shot a friend during a camping trip in rural Harney County in April, says that the charge he was indicted on for shooting the guy is unconstitutional.

O'Dea's arraignment for one count of "negligently wounding another" (ORS 166.160) was scheduled for 1 p.m. today in Harney County but, instead, O'Dea's lawyer Derek Ashton introduced a "defendant's demurrer," essentially an objection to the legality of the law he's accused of violating. Ashton tells the Mercury that a hearing on it is scheduled for December 23. Ashton hopes, naturally, the case is thrown out.

The law "is unconstitutionally vague," the document says, "and even if ORS 166.160 is not unconstitutionally vague, the indictment does not describe the nature of the crime alleged with sufficient particularity."

"In a criminal case, a demurrer is a defendant’s assertion that the document laying out the charges—the complaint, information, or indictment—is legally insufficient. In demurring, the defendant claims that the charging document is so flawed that it can’t be used to convict him or her," explains of the demurrer process. "Demurrers usually occur at or before the time for entering a plea. If the court grants a demurrer, the prosecution can typically re-file charges. Similarly, some errors are so minor that the prosecution or judge can simply edit them and otherwise leave the charging document intact. But sometimes the demurrer reveals an underlying problem with the prosecution’s case that can’t be fixed."

Online court records don't indicate how a judge has ruled on the filing, and we'll update if new information comes from the arraignment. Here's the filing: