Articles Posted in Oregon Supreme Court

by
Petitioner sought review of the Oregon Attorney General’s certified ballot title for Initiative Petition 19 (2018) (IP 19), arguing that the ballot title caption did not satisfy the requirements of ORS 250.035(2)(a). If adopted by voters, IP 19 would prohibit a person from serving as a member of the Legislative Assembly for more than eight years in any period of 12 years. Subject to certain exceptions, IP 19 specifically provided that the measure would apply “retroactively to limit service by any person who is a Representative or Senator upon the effective date of this Act, so that current or prior membership is included in the calculation of years of service.” Petitioner contends that that caption does not comply with ORS 250.035(2)(a); although petitioner acknowledged that the caption informed voters of one major effect of IP 19 (its prohibition on years of service) petitioner contended that it failed to inform voters of another major effect, that the measure applies retroactively, with exceptions. The Oregon Supreme Court agreed that the caption could have been more explicit: the actual impact of the measure on the legislature’s composition was a major effect that must be described in the ballot title’s caption. The Court referred the ballot back to the Attorney General for modification. View "Swanson v. Rosenblum" on Justia Law

by
Petitioners sought review of the ballot title prepared for Referendum Petition (RP) 301 (2018). Among other things, that bill created a new Health System Fund, which would pay the cost of administering a new Oregon Reinsurance Program, provide additional funding for medical assistance and health services to low-income individuals and families under ORS chapter 414, and make other payments. The bill then imposed temporary, two-year assessments on insurance premiums or premium equivalents received by insurers (section 5(2)), managed care organizations (section 9(2)), and the Public Employees’ Benefit Board (section 3(2)), that would be paid into the State Treasury and credited to the fund. Petitioners contended the caption, the “yes” and “no” result statements, and the summary did not comply with requirements set out in ORS 250.035(2). The Oregon Supreme Court reviewed the ballot title to determine whether it substantially complied with those requirements. The Court agreed with some of petitioners’ contentions, but disagreed with others, concluding that each part of the ballot title required modification. View "Parrish v. Rosenblum" on Justia Law

by
This case centered on a public records request made by defendant Oregonian Publishing Company, LLC (The Oregonian), a newspaper, to plaintiff Oregon Health and Sciences University (OHSU), a public health and research university that provided patient care at its hospital, conducted research, and educated health care professionals and scientists. The circuit court ordered OHSU to disclose the requested record, and OHSU appealed. The Court of Appeals reversed and remanded to the circuit court to examine the public records at issue and then determine whether state and federal exemptions permitted OHSU to withhold some of the requested information. On review, the issues narrowed to whether the requested record contained “protected health information” and student “education records” under federal and Oregon law and, if so, whether that information nonetheless had to be disclosed pursuant to ORS 192.420(1), a provision of the Oregon Public Records Law (OPRL). The Oregon Supreme Court concluded the requested record contained protected health information and that ORS 192.420(1) did not require the disclosure of that information. The Court declined to consider whether the part of the requested record consisting of tort claim notices filed by students contained “education records,” and, if so, whether those records were exempt from disclosure. The Court therefore reversed in part, and affirmed in part the decision of the Court of Appeals. View "OHSU v. Oregonian Publishing Co., LLC" on Justia Law

by
Petitioner Carvel Dillard was charged with four counts of sexual abuse in the second degree and four counts of prostitution. The indictment alleged crimes against two victims. Petitioner was not represented by counsel at trial. A jury found petitioner not guilty of the counts involving one of the victims, but found petitioner guilty of two counts involving the other victim. Petitioner unsuccessfully pursued a direct appeal. Petitioner then filed a timely pro se petition for post-conviction relief. He alleged (1) prosecutorial misconduct that, he claimed, violated his federal rights to a fair trial and due process under Brady v. Maryland, 373 US 83 (1963), and that could not reasonably have been raised and preserved before or during his trial proceedings; (2) trial court errors, including denial of appointed counsel, that, he alleged, could not effectively have been raised and preserved during the trial proceedings; (3) ineffective assistance of appellate counsel; and (4) actual innocence. Defendant, Superintendent of the Oregon State Penitentiary, filed a motion pursuant to ORCP 21 A(8) to dismiss the petition for failure to state ultimate facts sufficient to constitute post-conviction claims. Petitioner was represented by counsel for the hearing on his motion, and, although the pro se petition at issue requested a hearing, counsel did not request a hearing on defendant’s motion, and the post-conviction court did not grant a hearing. Instead, the court found defendant’s arguments persuasive, adopted them, and granted defendant’s motion. Subsequently, the court entered a general judgment dismissing the action “with prejudice.” Defendant conceded dismissal of the action “with prejudice” was made in error. The question this case presented for the Oregon Supreme Court’s review was whether, as defendant argued, ORS 138.525(3) bars an appellate court from correcting that error. The Supreme Court concluded the legislature did not intend to preclude appellate correction of the post-conviction court’s error. Accordingly, the Court reversed the decision of the Court of Appeals and remanded to that court for further proceedings. View "Dillard v. Premo" on Justia Law

by
In this case, the state issued a subpoena for a witness against defendant Kenneth Harris, and the witness did not appear for trial. The state then offered hearsay evidence in lieu of live testimony, arguing that the witness’s failure to appear in response to the subpoena sufficed to establish her unavailability. Defendant argued that a witness is unavailable for confrontation purposes only when the state has exhausted all reasonable means of securing the appearance of the witness. Once the state became aware that its witness would not appear, he argued, it could have taken any number of additional actions to secure her appearance, but did not do so. The trial court offered to continue the trial to allow the state to take such additional steps, but defendant objected. The trial court then concluded that the state had made reasonable efforts to produce the witness and admitted the hearsay. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that “more could have been done” to produce the witness at trial. The Oregon Supreme Court did not decide whether the state reasonably should have pursued those other measures. Defendant did not explain, and the Supreme Court did not understand, “how the state can be faulted for failing to obtain a continuance to pursue other means of producing the witness when defendant objected to the state being allowed to do just that.” The Court surmised: by objecting to the state being allowed to take further measures to produce its witness, defendant essentially invited any error that may have resulted, and invited error is no basis for reversal. The Supreme Court rejected the state’s contention that the unavailability requirement of Article I, section 11, was satisfied when a witness fails to comply with a subpoena. The state must exhaust reasonably available measures for producing the witness. In so holding, however, the Court reiterated that the rule was one of reasonableness under the circumstances of the individual case. Under the circumstances here, defendant was in no position to complain that the trial court erred in concluding that the victim was unavailable for confrontation purposes and in admitting the 9-1-1 recording of her report. The decision of the Court of Appeals was reversed. View "Oregon v. Harris" on Justia Law

by
Petitioner Michael Haynes sought judicial review of a final order of the Board of Parole and Post-Prison Supervision that denied his petition to change the terms of his life imprisonment to allow for the possibility of release. The Court of Appeals dismissed the case because petitioner’s appointed counsel missed the deadline for filing a petition for judicial review in that court. The Oregon Supreme Court allowed review to consider whether petitioner, who was statutorily entitled to be assisted by counsel on review, should or must be allowed to proceed with his untimely petition for review when the late filing was entirely due to neglect by appointed counsel. Petitioner argued that his statutory right to counsel must be construed as a right to adequate counsel, that he was denied that statutory right when his counsel missed the filing deadline for judicial review, and that this court should address the statutory violation by excusing the untimely filing. Petitioner also contends that a denial of judicial review under these circumstances violated his due process rights. After review, the Oregon Supreme Court concluded petitioner was not entitled to relief: jurisdiction for judicial review of a board order is a creation of statute, and even if petitioner was correct that he had a statutory right to adequate counsel on review which has been denied because of appellate counsel’s late filing, he was not correct that the appropriate remedy was to excuse the jurisdictional requirement of a timely petition. View "Haynes v. Board of Parole" on Justia Law

by
The Portland City Code imposed a $35 tax on each resident of the city who is at least 18 years old, has income of $1,000 or more per year, and does not reside in a household that is at or below federal poverty guidelines. The funds generated by the tax are used to support public art and music education programs. Plaintiff George Wittemyer argued the “arts tax” was a violation of the Oregon Constitution’s prohibition on a “poll or head tax.” The Oregon Supreme Court concluded that a tax that takes into account the income, property, or other resources of taxpayers is not a “poll or head tax” within the meaning of Article IX, section 1a. In this case, the City of Portland arts tax exempted certain residents based on their income and household resources. Thus, the tax does take income into account and, as a result, did not amount to a “poll or head tax.” View "Wittemyer v. City of Portland" on Justia Law

by
If an individual has been released on both probation and post-prison supervision subject to the same or similar conditions, a single act may violate the conditions of both probation and post-prison supervision. Defendant Matthew Richards was sentenced on two different criminal offenses and was subject to both probation and post-prison supervision at the same time. A condition of both was that he not change addresses without permission. He did not comply with that condition. As a result, the official who supervised his post-prison supervision on one offense imposed a sanction of three days in jail. The trial court imposed an additional sanction of revoking his probation on the other offense and sentenced him to a term of imprisonment on that offense. The issue in this case was whether the trial court had authority to do so. The Court of Appeals concluded that the trial court does have such authority. The Oregon Supreme Court agreed and affirmed. View "Oregon v. Richards" on Justia Law

by
The question in this case was whether K.A.M. was stopped during the search of a drug house when a detective came upon youth and a friend in one of the bedrooms, told K.A.M.'s friend to “stay off the meth,” asked them their names, and then asked whether they had anything illegal on them. Because the trial court ruled that no stop occurred, it denied K.A.M.'s motion to suppress evidence discovered during the encounter. The Court of Appeals upheld that ruling, agreeing that no stop had occurred. The Oregon Supreme Court concluded after a review of the trial court record, however, a stop occurred, it reversed the Court of Appeals decision and the trial court’s judgment. View "Oregon v. K. A. M." on Justia Law

by
The parties in this case raised the issue of whether the natural dissipation of alcohol in a suspect’s body created such an emergency that police officers could enter a suspect’s home without a warrant in order to secure the suspect’s blood-alcohol evidence. Police officers entered the home of defendant Randall Ritz, without a warrant, to secure evidence of his blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) after having probable cause to believe that he had been driving under the influence of intoxicants (DUII), a misdemeanor offense. The state argued that the warrantless entry was justified because the natural dissipation of alcohol in defendant’s body is a type of destruction of evidence that establishes an exigent circumstance. The Court of Appeals upheld the trial court’s denial of defendant’s motion to suppress the blood-alcohol evidence. The Oregon Supreme Court reversed. The record did not establish the officers reasonably believed, at the time that they entered defendant’s home, that obtaining a warrant would have delayed preserving evidence that was dissipating. The state therefore failed to establish that the officers reasonably believed that they were faced with an exigency in this case. The Court recognized that, by deciding this case on the facts, it was not resolving the legal question that the parties raised, namely, what factors should be considered in determining whether an exigency search is justified. “However, because the state failed to establish the existence of an exigency, the state cannot justify its warrantless search as an exigency search, regardless of what other factors should be considered or how those factors should be weighed.” View "Oregon v. Ritz" on Justia Law