Once the legal papers are served this week, Circuit Court Judge Russ West has given Edward Charles Scott three days to pay $10,000 or post a $10,000 bond to retain legal ownership of 43 cows and calves (three now deceased) seized by the Wallowa County Sheriffs Office March 8.
Scott, 60, although he has since moved, was living midway between Wallowa and Lostine adjacent to Highway 82 when the cattle were confiscated on property owned by his neighbor, Robert Bennett property for which Scott had procured cattle storage rights.
At a forfeiture hearing held March 29 in the Wallowa County Courthouse, Judge West repeatedly stressed that the hearing was not related to the guilt or innocence of Scott, but to determine the fate of the seized cattle.
In a trial that could occur no earlier than July 27, lacking an earlier settlement, Scott is scheduled to face four counts of first degree animal neglect (a Class A misdemeanors) and 39 counts of second degree animal neglect (a Class B misdemeanors).
The $10,000 figure was calculated after County Counsel Paige Sully and Wallowa County Sheriff s Chief Deputy Fred Steen estimated total animal storage costs from March 8 to July 27. That estimate was added to costs incurred before the animals confiscation.
At the forfeiture hearing, veterinarian Dr. David Schaefer, of Double Arrow Veterinary Clinic, in Enterprise; Steen; and Bennett each testified that the herd had been insufficiently fed.
Scott did not attend the hearing, nor was he represented there by legal counsel.
Judge West allowed much discussion, however, concerning a letter Wallowa County District Attorney Mona Williams received from attorney Geordie Duckler, of Tigard. In that letter, which wasnt admitted as evidence, Duckler reportedly stated he was Scotts attorney.
Even though Duckler had filed no motions or responded in any manner regarding the forfeiture hearing, West ordered from the courtroom that a phone call be placed to Ducklers Tigard office. Contact was made with a Duckler staff member, but not Duckler.
According to Ducklers website, he has been in the practice of animal law for more than 25 years.
Dr. Schaefer, who visited the herd Jan. 29 at Steens request, said cattle are graded on a score of 1 to 9, with 1 being emaciated and 9 being obese. He said grade 5 and 6 cattle are healthy, and that the average score for Scotts cattle was a 3. Like Steen and Bennett after him, Dr. Schaefer said feed in the only feeder in the field not only was insufficient in quantity, but was wet and moldy grass hay.
The herd originally consisted of 30 cows and 13 calves, but two calves and one cow died. Another cow was earmarked for first class animal neglect charges because of substantial injuries.
An autopsy performed on one of the calves, found in emaciated condition 15 feet from the feeder, determined that it had been trampled to death.