November 22, 2021

Judiciary and Public Safety Committees Meet during Legislative Days

Last week the interim Senate Committee on Judiciary and Ballot Measure 110 Implementation Committee and the interim House Judiciary Committee met during the November Legislative Days. Due to scheduling complications, the committees met separately rather than jointly. Over the two days of hearings, the two committees focused on a wide variety of issues, including the Ramos decision, the Public Defense Services Commission (PDSC), an update on Ballot Measure 110, an Oregon Judicial Department (OJD) grant request, and a discussion of potential 2022 legislation. The full agendas and links to the recordings for each hearing can be found on the House Judiciary and the Senate Judiciary pages on the Oregon Legislative Information System (OLIS).

In addition, the interim Ways and Means Public Safety Subcommittee met to discuss a variety of public safety issues including a grant request from the Oregon Judicial Department.

Nonunanimous Jury Decisions

The Senate Committee began its hearing with testimony regarding nonunanimous jury decisions and the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision in Ramos v. Louisiana (140 S. Ct. 1390, 1395 (2020)). The informational hearing included testimony from Judiciary Counsel, Legislative Counsel, the Criminal Justice Commission, the Oregon Department of Justice, Lewis and Clark’s Criminal Justice Reform Clinic, and the Oregon District Attorneys Association. The presentation covered a high-level history of the use of nonunanimous juries in Oregon, the court and appellate processes, the cost to the state, and a brief discussion of a work group expected to work through many of these issues.

Public Defense Services Commission

The House Committee received a report from the PDSC. During the 2021 Legislative Session, the legislature passed HB 2003, which updated the structure of the PDSC and provided it with the ability to respond the to the Sixth Amendment Center’s report. In addition, the legislature funded Oregon’s Office of Public Defense Services while holding back approximately $100 million to be held by the Legislature’s Ways and Means Committee. Interim Director Edward Jones presented to the House Committee on the efforts made by the PDSC to address the requests and guidance from the 2021 legislative session.

Ballot Measure 110

Both the Senate and the House Judiciary Committees received reports on the implementation of Ballot Measure 110. The Senate reports included not only a presentation from the Oregon Judicial Department on the implementation of the ballot measure and statutory changes found in SB 755 (2021), but also presentations from the Oregon Health Authority and the tri-chairs of the Measure 110 Oversight and Accountability Council.

Oregon Judicial Department Grant Request

Last year, the OJD identified conservatorships as a priority under its 2020–2021 Strategic Plan. During the November Legislative Days, the OJD presented to the interim Ways and Means Public Safety Subcommittee its request to apply for an Elder Justice Innovation Grant. The grant funds will be used to conduct a self-assessment of guardianship and conservatorship court monitoring practices across Oregon’s circuit courts. The request was approved retroactively by the full interim Ways and Means Committee.

2022 Potential Legislation

During the House interim Committee on the Judiciary, Representatives Reynolds, Kropf, Sanchez, and Morgan, as well as House Judiciary Chair Bynum, shared possible legislative concepts for the 2022 Legislative Session. Concepts addressed medical liability, restitution, legal services at Coffee Creek Correctional Facility, as well as criminal and civil law placeholders. Additional concepts and draft language will be shared in the coming months. Bill drafts are historically publicly shared by the legislature in January before a short legislative session.

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Board of Governors Adopts 2022 Legislative Priorities and Guidelines

The Oregon State Bar’s Board of Governors (BOG) met from November 18 to 20 for its annual retreat and board meeting. On the agenda of both the Public Affairs Committee and the BOG were proposed 2022 Legislative Priorities and Legislative Guidelines. Both the Public Affairs Committee and the BOG adopted the Legislative Priorities and Guidelines for the upcoming 2022 Legislative Session.

Oregon State Bar
2022 Legislative Priorities

      1. Support Court Funding. Continued support for stable funding for Oregon’s courts.
          • Advocate that the Legislative Assembly improve funding to provide needed court services, support suitable and sufficient court facilities, work to attract and retain high quality judges, and support the goals of the Judicial Department Strategic Campaign.
      2. Support legal services for low-income Oregonians.
          • Civil Legal Services. Legal assistance and representation for financially qualified individuals in Oregon’s civil justice system.
              • Request that Congress and the President of the United States make a genuine commitment to equal justice by adequately funding the Legal Services Corporation, which provides federal support for legal aid;
              • Work with Oregon’s legal aid programs and the Campaign for Equal Justice to preserve and increase state funding for legal aid and explore other sources of new funding.
          • Indigent Defense. Constitutionally and statutorily required representation of financially qualified individuals in Oregon’s criminal and juvenile justice systems:
              • Partner with stakeholders to obtain adequate resources and commensurate compensation for public defense providers, and support the development of caseload standards that ensure those public defense providers can meet their constitutional and ethical obligations.
      3. Track and engage on 2022 legislation per Oregon State Bar Legislative Guidelines.

OSB Public Affairs Committee
2022 Legislative Session Guidelines

Mission Statement: The Oregon State Bar Board of Governors must at all times direct its power to serve the public interest by (a) regulating the legal profession and improving the quality of legal services; (b) supporting the judiciary and improving the administration of justice; and (c) advancing a fair, inclusive, and accessible justice system.

To that end, the OSB Public Affairs Committee supports the following legislative goals:

      1. Protect the public, the administration of justice and the rule of law.
      2. Create meaningful access to justice and provide information about the law, legal issues, and the civil and criminal justice system.
      3. Make Oregon laws more consistent and more uniform.
      4. Improve the ability of attorneys to competently serve the interests of the Oregonians.
      5. Ensure efficient, competent and ethical delivery of legal services.
      6. Foster diversity, equity and inclusion among legal service providers and in the justice system.
      7. Support a fair and effective criminal justice system.
      8. Promote the protection of privileged and confidential information while promoting access and education regarding public records.
      9. Provide appropriate information and assistance regarding ethical issues to legislators, especially legally-trained legislators.
      10. Improve the juvenile justice system and encourage better coordination between the different components of the system.

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Deadline for 2023 Law Improvement Proposals

Is your section or committee interested in the legislative process? Is there a statutory fix that needs to be made? It may feel like the 2021 legislative session just ended, but it’s time to start planning for the 2023 legislative session. The Oregon State Bar Law Improvement Program is an avenue for Bar sections and committees to participate in the legislative process. Law improvement legislation includes proposals to clarify statutory ambiguities, to modify unforeseen glitches in major legislation passed in previous sessions, and to codify case law as necessary. In 2021, Bar members advocated to provide that Oregon courts should provide full faith and credit to orders and judgments issued by tribal courts, to clarify military and veterans preferences, and to update will retention timelines.

The Public Affairs Committee (PAC) of the Board of Governors oversees the Bar’s legislative activities and establishes priorities on public policy issues important to the legal profession. The PAC, chaired by Katherine Denning, is made up of eight members of the Board of Governors.

If your Bar group intends to propose legislation for the 2023 legislative session, proposals should be submitted to the PAC through the Public Affairs Department by April 1, 2022, for review, approval, and potentially pre-session drafting and filing. Bar legislative activities involve the regulation of the legal profession or the improvement of the quality of legal services available to the people of Oregon.

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

2021 Oregon State Bar Officers and Public Affairs Chair

David Wade,
President, Oregon State Bar
Kamron Graham,
President Elect, Oregon State Bar
Liani Reeves,
Immediate Past President, Oregon State Bar
Katherine Denning,
Chair, Public Affairs Committee, Oregon State Bar Board of Governors

For questions about articles, legislation, or the legislative process, please contact:

Susan Grabe, Public Affairs Director
Amy Zubko, Public Affairs Legislative Attorney

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