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COVID-19 Resources – New Chief Justice Order from the Oregon Judicial Department
On Friday, May 15, 2020, the Chief Justice released CJO 20-016. The CJ Order becomes effective on June 1, 2020 and eases current restrictions on court activity while still allowing for social distancing.
On Friday, May 15, 2020 Governor Brown authorized Phase One reopening status for 31 of Oregon’s 36 counties. In those counties that have been authorized for Phase One reopening, courts may conduct bench trials and all other court proceedings. In order for these activities to take place, sufficient court staff must be available and social distancing requirements will need to be met. Jury trials and jury trials and FED first appearances and trials are not included. This goes into effect on June 1, 2020.
On July 1, 2020, in counties where the Governor has authorized gatherings of at least 50 people in one location, courts may conduct jury trials in all civil and criminal cases and FED first appearances and trials if no applicable moratorium is in effect. These activities may take place if sufficient staff are available and social distancing requirements are met.
The court operations under CJO 20-016 are in addition to court operations that have been occurring under amended CJO 20-006 released on March 27, 2020.
For a complete overview of the updates, the Oregon State Bar’s website includes a COVID-19 response portal with up-to-date information from the Oregon Judicial Department, Oregon State agencies, and the Oregon State Bar.
ABA Advocacy Day Goes Digital
Every year, the OSB participates in the American Bar Association (ABA) Annual Lobby Day. Historically this has been an opportunity for the OSB, the Oregon Law Center, and the Campaign for Equal Justice to meet with Oregon’s congressional delegation and share our support for adequate funding for the Legal Services Corporation (LSC), the federal mechanism for funding civil legal aid services. This year, because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the concerns about travel, the ABA moved to a Digital Day of Advocacy.
This year the OSB and Oregon’s legal aid providers focused on four issues: adequate funding for civil legal aid, the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program, funding for veterans’ legal needs, and strengthening Oregon’s broadband access.
Funding for the Legal Services Corporation: Advocacy efforts last year helped increase LSC funding by $25 million to its highest appropriation ever—$440 million. Despite this increase, funding remains woefully insufficient. Nearly one million low-income Americans who seek help for civil legal problems are turned away each year for lack of adequate resources, and due to COVID-19, that number is expected to increase. In fact, legal services offices across the country are seeing a significant increased need for help already.
Public Service Loan Forgiveness: Bar advocacy is needed to help preserve the PSLF Program, which enables law school graduates and other professionals to embark on, and remain in, less remunerative public service careers by offering partial student loan forgiveness for a service commitment of 10 years. This important program has helped many underserved communities hire the prosecutors, public defenders, legal aid lawyers, doctors, nurses, teachers, social workers, and other professionals they need in vital public service positions.
Legal Services for Homeless Veterans: Nearly 40,000 veterans are homeless on any given night, and there is a very real danger that that number will spike considerably in the coming months, given the increasing number of people losing jobs, being evicted, and facing poverty in the wake of the COVOD-19 pandemic. One way we can help veterans achieve self-sufficiency and secure permanent shelter is to ensure that they receive the legal assistance necessary to access Veterans Affairs (VA) services or benefits to which they are entitled. The lack of available legal help is exacerbated by the fact that the VA lacks the legal authority to directly support legal services.
Rural Broadband: Approximately 25 million Americans lack high-speed internet access, 96 percent of whom live in rural areas. Inadequate access not only makes it hard for lawyers in rural areas to practice law, it also discourages lawyers and other professionals from working in rural areas. Many children and adults living in rural communities impacted by COVID-19 do not have adequate broadband connections to access educational materials online, participate in remote learning, or take advantage of telemedicine opportunities that might be needed if they or their families get sick.
2020 Interim House Committee Appointments Announced
On April 28, 2020, House Speaker Tina Kotek announced committee appointments for the 2020 interim. During the interim, policy committees provide oversight, provide feedback to legislative work groups, and review legislative concepts and issues before the long legislative session beginning in 2021. In addition, interim committees may presession file legislative concepts for consideration in December 2020 for the 2021 Legislative Session.
There were a number of changes made including to the make-up of the House Judiciary Committee. Representative Janelle Bynum (D – Happy Valley) the previous vice chair, will become chair of the committee. While she remains on the committee, Representative Tawna Sanchez (D- Portland) who chaired the House Judiciary Committee through the 2020 Legislative Session, has stepped down as chair of the House Judiciary Committee to chair the House Human Services Committee. Representative Sherri Springer (R – Scio), a long time vice chair of the committee, has been joined by Representative Karin Power (D- Milwaukie) in the roll. The House Interim Judiciary Committee will meet remotely on May 28, 2020 from 3-6 pm. The meeting will be broadcast over the Oregon Legislative Information System.
The Bar looks forward to working with the members of the House Interim Judiciary Committee in the coming months.
House Judiciary Committee
Chair Representative Janelle Bynum
Vice-Chair Representative Karin Power
Vice-Chair Representative Sherrie Sprenger
Member Representative Jeff Barker
Member Representative Akasha Lawrence Spence
Member Representative Rick Lewis
Member Representative Raquel Moore-Green
Member Representative Ron Noble
Member Representative Carla Piluso
Member Representative Tawna Sanchez
To see a full list of House Committee member assignments, visit the Oregon State Legislature’s website (https://www.oregonlegislature.gov/) and click on “Committees” in the ribbon.
OSB Public Affairs Committee Hosts 2020 Legislative Forum
On April 27, 2020, the Oregon State Bar (OSB) Board of Governors (BOG) Public Affairs Committee met to host the 2020 Legislative Forum. This year seven OSB sections, workgroups, and committees submitted 10 law improvement proposals for consideration by the BOG to be drafted by the legislature’s Office of Legislative Counsel as part of the 2021 Law Improvement Program. In addition, the Public Affairs Committee discussed potential 2021 BOG priority legislation.
Law improvement concepts are proposed bills that clarify statutory ambiguities, remove unnecessary procedural requirements, modify unforeseen glitches in previous legislation, or otherwise improve the practice of law. The proposals are reviewed by the Public Affairs Committee to ensure that they meet the criteria established by both the OSB bylaws and the U.S. Supreme Court case Keller v. State Bar of California, 496 US 1 (1990).
This year, due to the limitations on in-person meetings stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, the Legislative Forum was held via videoconference. Representatives from the seven sections, as well as other interested parties, attended the public meeting and listened to the presentations from section representatives.
The BOG will vote on a legislative package during the May 22, 2020 board meeting.
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2020 Public Affairs Committee Members
Eric Foster, Chair
Katherine Denning, Vice Chair
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