Criminal Justice

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A disbarred California lawyer will be able to seek reinstatement of his law license after his Oregon conviction for child molestation was overturned and prosecutors decided not to retry him.

According to the Oregonian, former lawyer Brad Holbrook’s 19-year ordeal appears to be over. He spent more than six years in prison after the jury in his second trial was allowed to hear a never-confirmed rumor and convicted him in 2002 of molesting a 10-year-old girl. The Oregonian ran an investigative story on the case in 2008.

Now 51, Holbrook was arrested in 1999 after the girl, a friend of one of Holbrook’s relatives, said he had brushed up against her vaginal area and buttocks. Her mother said the girl had originally told her that Holbrook put his hand inside her shorts. In a later taped interview, the girl said Holbrook didn’t put his hand down her pants, the incident was probably accidental, and she “couldn’t, like, feel it.”

The first jury deadlocked in 2001. Four jurors filed sworn statements complaining about the prosecutor and even helped the defense prepare for the next trial.

During the second trial, the prosecutor asked two character witnesses whether they knew Holbrook had a “secret correspondence” with a 14-year-old girl. Neither had heard anything. The rumor was never confirmed by any witnesses.

Jurors convicted Holbrook on one count of sex abuse but acquitted him on two more serious charges.

An appeals court reversed the conviction in December, ruling that Holbrook’s defense lawyer hadn’t done enough to stop questioning about the rumor. Prosecutors indicated in a court motion filed two weeks ago that “the interests of justice do not favor a new trial.”

Since his release from prison, Holbrook has worked as a house painter, a mover and a paralegal. He told the Oregonian he is still surprised he was accused of a crime.

“It seems so unbelievable,” Holbrook told the newspaper. “I look back and say ‘How could that happen to me?’ It’s so shocking.”

Holbrook says he tries not to dwell on the past. “The key is to move forward and not live in yesterday,” he said.