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Defense attorney Mark Cogan gets his day in court and beats a speeding ticket

Mark Cogan is a well-known defense attorney and savvy enough to know that a defendant needs a good lawyer.

And it paid off Friday morning, when a Clackamas County judge dismissed a year-old speeding ticket.

Cogan was cited by a photo-radar unit on Southeast McLoughlin Boulevard near downtown Milwaukie in July 2012.

That stretch of highway is a notorious speed trap. The speed limit drops from 45 miles per hour to 30 miles per hour to the irritation of inattentive motorists who don’t notice the change in speed limit. Or the white police van parked by the side of the road snapping pictures.

Cogan was cited for going 15 miles per hour over the limit.

He had his attorney, Jeff Turney, represent him in Milwaukie Municipal Court. The judge found Cogan guilty by default because Cogan was not present.

Cogan appealed and, after a year of hearings and motions, got his day in court. Milwaukie prosecutor Rhett Bernstein presented what appeared to be a solid case. A Milwaukie officer explained how photo radar works and what he observed the day he cited Cogan.

But Cogan’s attorney, Jeff Turnoy, said the city had not established all the elements necessary to convict.

Circuit Judge Kathie F. Steele considered the arguments and dismissed the charge.

Why? Bernstein failed to ask the officer a key question. What is the legal speed limit on McLoughlin?

“We appealed and today we won,” Turney said.

“The government has to prove its case,” Cogan said. “Justice prevailed.”

Bernstein, a Portland, criminal defense attorney when he is not representing Milwaukie, declined to comment on the decision.

Cogan is no stranger to the Clackamas County Courthouse. He represented members of the Followers of Christ, an Oregon City faith-healing church, in three high-profile trials in recent years.

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