June 7, 2019

OSB Day at the Capitol Brings Lawyers to the Capitol

On May 16, 2019, Oregon State Bar members traveled to the Capitol to visit with legislators to discuss the Bar’s legislative priorities. Bar members met with over 30 legislative offices over the course of the day. This budget cycle bar priorities include: funding for the courts, for low-income civil legal services, and for indigent defense. Thank you to each person who attended Day at the Capitol. Your advocacy and commitment to justice has made an impact.

Oregon Judicial Department. The Oregon State Bar joined with the Oregon Judicial Department (OJD) in urging the legislature to restore the cuts that have been made in the past years to allow the court to keep up with the demand for services. The Oregon Judicial Department’s priorities for the 2019–2021 biennum include:

      • Fund current service level (SB 5513) — The Governor’s budget would fund 80 staff positions that have been held vacant to meet budget reduction targets.
      • Restore additional court staff — The Oregon Judicial Department has lost about 12% of its staff since the 2009–2011 budget cycle, or approximately 212 positions. This means that most courts are not able to provide all public services during the entire business day. This lack of staffing slows down the resolution of cases, and means that members of the public may be turned away.
      • Additional judges for child-welfare cases (HB 2258)This bill would add family-treatment courts in Coos, Deschutes, Douglas, and Marion Counties. Additionally, an OJD Policy Option Package would add 14 judges throughout the state, allowing timely resolution of highly complex and emotionally difficult cases impacting Oregon families. Resolving these cases quickly is critical to ensuring safe, permanent homes for abused or neglected children.

Funding for Legal Aid. The Oregon State Bar joined with legal aid providers in urging the legislature to increase state funding of legal aid. The bar, in conjunction with legal aid providers, requested an:

      • Increase the current Oregon statutory allocation dedicated to funding legal aid operations by $3.1 million per biennium. This would allow legal aid to close a small part of the gap between the need that is highlighted in the 2018 Civil Legal Needs Study and its current ability to meet that need on a statewide basis; and
      • To create an ongoing annual increase to the statutory allocation based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI). This annual increase will help keep legal aid from falling further and further behind each biennium.

Public Defense Services Commission. The Oregon State Bar supports efforts to provide constitutional levels of funding for indigent defense services in Oregon. In 2018, the Sixth Amendment Center outlining a number of concerns about how indigent services are provided, and how providers are trained and paid in Oregon. Over the legislative session, stakeholders have engaged in efforts to restructure the way indigent defense is provided and to ensure that caseloads are maintained at a level that allows public defenders adequate time to provide competent representation for all clients.

In the waning days of session, high-level discussions regarding the bar’s legislative priorities have been taking place. Thank you to everyone who participated in the 2019 Oregon State Bar Day at the Capitol!

Pictured (L-R): Eric Foster, OSB BOG Region 3, John Bachofner, OSB BOG Region 8, Vanessa Nordyke, 2018 OSB Past President, Representative Dan Rayfield (D-Corvallis), Rebecca Cambreleng, Cambreleng Law LLC

Pictured: Liani Reeves, 2020 OSB President Elect opening the lunch program.

Pictured: Justice Christopher L. Garrett, Oregon Supreme Court, Ed Harnden, Barran Liebman LLP

Pictured: Erin Esparza, Classroom Law Project, Elizabeth Knight, Dunn Carney Allen

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Bar President and Chief Justice Speak at City Club in Support of Court Funding

On May 24, 2019, the City Club of Portland hosted Chief Justice Martha Walters of the Oregon Supreme Court and Oregon State Bar President Christine Costantino for a presentation on the Oregon Judicial Department.

Pictured: Christine Costantino, 2019 OSB President, Chief Justice Martha Lee Walters, Oregon Supreme Court

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      Senator Jackie Winters Passes Away

      On May 29, 2019, State Senator Jackie Winters (R-Salem) passed away. Throughout her career, Senator Winters was a leader on public-safety issues, which affected lawyers throughout the state, from court filing fees to juvenile-justice reform.

      Court Filing Fees. In 2011 Senator Winters chaired the Joint Committee on Ways and Means Subcommittee on Public Safety. That session, the legislature passed House Bill 2710 and House Bill 2712, after extensive work by the Joint Interim Committee on State Justice System Revenues and the Public Safety Subcommittee. The bills restructured court filing fees and how they were distributed.

      Oregon eCourt. In 2012, the Oregon Judicial Department began its implementation of Oregon eCourt, which allows for electronic filing, information sharing, case management, and document access among other functions. The Public Safety Subcommittee, chaired by Senator Winters, provided budgetary and policy oversight over the five-year implementation process, which was completed in 2016. The Oregon eCourt project is regularly recognized as one of the most successful IT projects in recent state history.

      Juvenile Justice. During the 2019 legislative session, Senator Winters championed Senate Bill 1008*, a juvenile-justice reform bill. Measure 11, a citizen’s initiative that passed in 1994, created strict mandatory minimum-sentencing laws for anyone over age 15. SB 1008 modifies treatment of youth in Oregon’s criminal-justice system by, among other changes to the law, allowing offenders who receive a Measure 11 sentence to be eligible for conditional release. The bill, which required a 2/3 vote in each legislative chamber, passed out of the legislature just a few days before Senator Winters passed away.

      *For more information on SB 1008, please see the 2019 Legislative Highlights to be released this fall.

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      Thank you for reading the Oregon State Bar’s CAPITOL INSIDER.
      The archives are available here.

      2019 Public Affairs Committee Members

      Eric Foster, Chair
      Eddie Medina, Vice Chair
      Whitney Boise
      John Bachofner
      Kate Denning
      Kamron Graham
      Bik-Na Han
      Michael Rondeau 

      Public Affairs Department

      Susan Grabe, Public Affairs Director
      Amy Zubko, Public Affairs Legislative Attorney
      Matt Shields, Public Affairs Staff Attorney
      Kellie Baumann, Public Affairs Assistant

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