June 1, 2023

Oregon Judicial Department Budget Passes Out of Ways and Means Committee

On May 31, the Oregon Judicial Department (OJD) budget for the 2023–2025 biennium passed out of the Joint Ways and Means Committee. The bill, SB 5512, provides approximately $750 million in total funds to the OJD for the two-year period. This includes an increase in the General Fund funding over the 2021–2023 legislatively approved budget and is more than the proposed 2023–2025 current-service-level budget.

The recommended budget includes new or continued investments in

    • the pretrial release program;
    • protective proceedings;
    • expunction;
    • remote proceedings;
    • compensation plan changes;
    • collaborative grants and agreements; and
    • the backfill of a revenue shortfall in the eCourt program, among other less material changes.

An overview of the funding provided in SB 5512 can be found here. In the coming weeks, the legislature may make additional changes to the state budget, and further funding for OJD programs and projects may be added. Any updates will be included in future issues of the Capitol Insider.

Thank you to the members of the Campaign for Court Funding for all of your outreach in support of court funding this biennium! We look forward to continuing to work with you on this important project.

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Restructure of Public Defense Services Commission Passes Out of the Senate Rules Committee 

On May 30, SB 337 passed out of the Senate Rules Committee after the bill was amended with the –A8 amendment. SB 337 contains the phased restructure of Oregon’s public defense system. The bill passed out of committee with a 3-2 vote and is on its way to the Joint Ways and Means Committee.

Not only does SB 337 as amended create a new entity to house Oregon’s public defense system, the Oregon Public Defense Commission, it restructures the membership of the Commission, moves the Commission from the judicial to the executive branch by January 3, 2025, modifies the pay structure, allows for the hiring of trial-level state employee attorneys, and directs the commission to contract with providers, promulgate standards, and report back to the legislature.

Recent amendments to the bill give the Governor the authority to remove Commission members for cause, provide that the Executive Director works at the pleasure of the Governor through 2027, and modifies commensurate pay requirements.

The next step for the bill is review by the Joint Ways and Means Committee where legislators will delve into the costs of the program. The proposed 2023 – 2025 Public Defense Services Commission budget, found in SB 5532, is currently in the Joint Ways and Means Committee Public Safety Subcommittee as well.

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Bills of Interest 

    • SB 234 – Expands authority of Chief Justice of Supreme Court to make rules for gathering specified information and identifying and evaluating disparities and impacts in justice system in Oregon.
    • SB 619 A – Permits consumers to obtain from controller that processes consumer personal data confirmation as to whether controller is processing consumer’s personal data and categories of personal data controller is processing, list of specific third parties to which controller has disclosed consumer’s personal data or any personal data and copy of all of consumer’s personal data that controller has processed or is processing.
    • SB 807 A – Provides procedure whereby elected judge may challenge party, attorney, law firm, district attorney’s office, defense consortium or public defender’s office that files motions to disqualify judge that effectively deny judge assignment to criminal or juvenile delinquency docket.
    • HB 2225 – Increases fees that may be charged for preparation of court transcripts.

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Annual Adjustment to Oregon Tort Claims Act and Wrongful Conviction Compensation 

Oregon Tort Claims Act

The Office of the State Court Administrator (OSCA) has calculated the annual adjustment to the limitations on liability of state and local public bodies for personal injury, death, and property damage or destruction. Based on these calculations, the limitations are adjusted as shown here.

The new limitations become effective on July 1, 2023, and apply to all causes of action arising on or after July 1, 2023, and before July 1, 2024. The OSCA opened a public comment period on the adjustments from March 10, 2023, to 5:00 p.m. on April 28, 2023. It received no public comment.

The OSCA makes these adjustments annually, as required by ORS 30.271(4), 30.272(4), and 30.273(3). A list of past and current limitations on liability of public bodies can be found on the OJD website at http://www.courts.oregon.gov/Pages/tort.aspx.

Wrongful Conviction Compensation

In 2022, the legislature passed SB 1584 (Oregon Laws 2022, chapter 105). The law allows a wrongfully convicted person to file a petition seeking compensation in the Marion County Circuit Court or in the circuit court for the county of conviction, and it directs the OSCA to adjust the compensation amounts annually according to the methodology described in the law. The adjusted amounts can be found here.

The new compensation amounts become effective on July 1, 2023. They apply to all petitions filed on or after July 1, 2023, and before July 1, 2024.

The OSCA opened a public comment period on the adjustments from March 10, 2023, to 5:00 p.m. on April 28, 2023. It received one public comment expressing an opinion that the wrongful conviction compensation amounts should be higher; however, the public comment did not contain any suggestion that the adjustments were incorrectly calculated under the statute.

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

2023 Oregon State Bar Officers and Public Affairs Chair

Lee Ann Donaldson,
President, Oregon State Bar
David Rosen,
President Elect, Oregon State Bar
Kamron Graham,
Immediate Past President, Oregon State Bar
Gabriel Chase,
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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