November 9, 2022

Chief Justice Martha Walters and Former Chief Justice Thomas Balmer to Retire from the Supreme Court

This fall, two Oregon Supreme Court Justices, Chief Justice Martha Walters and former Chief Justice Thomas Balmer announced their retirements from the Oregon Supreme Court.

Justice Thomas Balmer

Justice Balmer announced his retirement from the Oregon Supreme Court on October 3, 2022. He will step down on December 31, 2022, from the Oregon Supreme Court; however he will continue to serve as a Senior Judge.

After many years in private practice, as well as time spent at the Oregon Department of Justice, Justice Balmer joined the Oregon Supreme Court in 2001. From 2012 to 2018, Justice Balmer served as the Chief Justice of the Oregon Supreme Court. During that time he oversaw the successful implementation of the Oregon eCourt system, obtained state funding to help replace unsafe courthouses, and rebuilt Oregon’s court system after severe budget reductions in the 2009 recession. Thank you to Justice Balmer for his years of service to Oregon and its court system.

Chief Justice Martha Walters

Nine days later, on October 18, 2022 Chief Justice Walters announced her retirement from the Oregon Supreme Court as well. She will step down as of December 31, 2022 as well.

Chief Justice Walters joined the Oregon Supreme Court in 2006, after thirty years of private practice in Eugene. In 2018, Chief Justice Walters replaced Justice Balmer as Chief Justice and will serve in that role until her retirement next month. Since 2020 Chief Justice Walters has led the Oregon Judicial Department through the COVI-19 pandemic, guiding the courts efforts to stay open and safe for members of the public, court staff, and judges. She has also been instrumental in the Court’s Strategic Campaign focusing on behavioral health of people in Oregon’s courts and major legislation reducing security release. Thank you to Chief Justice Walters for her years of service to Oregon and its court system.

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Oregon Judicial Department Shares Legislative Priorities during September Legislative Days

During the September Legislative Days, the House and Senate Interim Judiciary Committees met to discuss a number of issues. Of particular interest was an update from the Oregon Judicial Department (OJD) in the House Judiciary Committee. The OJD touched on a number of issues, including equity, diversity, and inclusion; court procedures; and legislative initiatives.

The OJD, like executive branch agencies, is in the process of finalizing a proposed budget for the 2023–2025 legislative session. While the full budget will be shared closer to the legislative session, the OJD shared a list of legislative proposals that it will be submitting for consideration during the 2023 legislative session. The list includes statutory changes, proposed program changes, and funding requests.

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Council on Court Procedures Publishes Proposed ORCP Amendments for Public Comment

The Council on Court Procedures is composed of lawyers and judges from around the state and is charged with drafting and amending the rules that govern litigation in Oregon’s circuit courts (Oregon Rules of Civil Procedure, or ORCP). Each biennium the Council receives feedback from the bench and bar on how the existing ORCPs are working and suggestions for possible improvements. In September of even-numbered years, the Council publishes proposed amendments to the ORCPs for public comment. (Note that some of the ORCPs, by statute, also apply to the litigation of criminal cases, and other rules apply to administrative and other proceedings.)

This year the Council proposed amendments for Rules 7, 39, 55, 57, 58, and 69. The proposed amendments address the following issues:

          • The amendment to ORCP 57 is a response to a national discussion on what is wrong with Batson challenges in jury selection and how to fix the current practice.
          • Amendments to ORCPs 39 and 58 address what has been learned about remote testimony in proceedings during the COVID-19 pandemic.
          • The amendment to ORCP 55 is a procedure for reluctant witnesses who have been subpoenaed.
          • The changes to ORCPs 7 and 69 are technical amendments.

In addition, the Council has proposed a new rule, ORCP 35, which, if adopted, will provide a uniform approach for responding to vexatious litigants.

To review this biennium’s proposed amendments, go to the OJD website at 2022 Proposed Amendments to the Oregon Rules of Civil Procedure. Written comments on the proposed amendments to the ORCPs should be received by the Council by December 2, 2022, to receive full consideration by the Council at its meeting on December 10, 2022. Comments may be emailed to [email protected].

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

2022 Oregon State Bar Officers and Public Affairs Chair

Kamron Graham,
President, Oregon State Bar
Lee Ann Donaldson,
President Elect, Oregon State Bar
David Wade,
Immediate Past President, Oregon State Bar
Joseph Piucci,
Chair, Public Affairs Committee, Oregon State Bar Board of Governors

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

Susan Grabe, Chief Communications and Public Affairs Officer
Amy Zubko, Public Affairs Legislative Attorney

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