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The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals certified a question of Oregon law to the Oregon Supreme Court. At issue is the correct interpretation of ORS 30.905(2), which placed limits on the time-frame for initiating a product liability civil action for personal injury or property damage. Oregon resident Aline Miller owned a Ford Escape, which was manufactured in June 2001 in the State of Missouri. The Escape was first sold to a consumer in September 2001. In May 2012, the Escape caught fire while parked in Miller’s garage, allegedly due to a faulty sensor in the engine compartment. The fire spread from Miller’s garage to her home, causing significant property damage. Miller also fractured her heel as she fled the fire. Oregon’s statute of repose for product liability actions provides that an action “must be commenced before the later of *** [t]en years after the date on which the product was first purchased *** or *** [t]he expiration of any statute of repose for an equivalent civil action in the state in which the product was manufactured.” ORS 30.905(2). The certified question asked if the state of manufacture had no statute of repose for actions equivalent to an Oregon product liability action, was a product liability action in Oregon subject to any statute of repose? The Oregon Court answered in the negative: under ORS 30.905(2), when an Oregon product liability action involves a product that was manufactured in a state that has no statute of repose for an equivalent civil action, then the action in Oregon also was not subject to a statute of repose. View "Miller v. Ford Motor Co." on Justia Law

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Petitioner Kipland Kinkel pled guilty to four counts of murder and 25 counts of attempted murder, and pled no contest to a twenty-sixth count of attempted murder. On May 20, 1998, when petitioner was 15 years old, he was sent home from high school for bringing a gun to school. Later that day, he shot his father once in the head. Afterwards, he shot his mother five times in the head and once in the heart. He went to school the following day and shot and killed two students and wounded dozens more. In this post-conviction proceeding, petitioner argued that, because he was a juvenile when he committed his crimes, the Eighth Amendment prohibited the imposition of an aggregate sentence that was the functional equivalent of a life sentence without the possibility of parole. Petitioner’s federal argument entails primarily three issues: (1) whether, as a matter of state law, petitioner’s Eighth Amendment claim was procedurally barred; (2) if it was, whether Montgomery v. Louisiana, 136 S Ct 718 (2016), required the Oregon Supreme Court to reach petitioner’s Eighth Amendment claim despite the existence of that state procedural bar; and (3) if petitioner’s Eighth Amendment claim was not procedurally barred, whether and how Miller v. Alabama, 567 US 460 (2012), applied when a court imposed an aggregate sentence for multiple crimes committed by a juvenile. The Oregon Supreme Court held that, even if ORS 138.550(2) did not pose a procedural bar to petitioner’s Eighth Amendment claim, his claim failed on the merits. The Oregon Court concluded that the facts in this case, coupled with the sentencing court’s findings, brought petitioner within the narrow class of juveniles who, as Miller recognized, could be sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. View "Kinkel v. Persson" on Justia Law

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Initiative Petition (IP) 28, if enacted, would modify Article I, section 8, of the Oregon Constitution to permit either a legislative body or the people exercising their initiative power to regulate campaign contributions and expenditures. In this case’s first trip to the Oregon Supreme Court, the ballot title for IP 28 the Attorney General for modification. The Attorney General filed a modified ballot title, and the two sets of petitioners who challenged the original ballot title challenged the modified title. Among other things, petitioners challenged the ballot title’s unqualified use of the word “regulate.” They noted, and we agreed, that “the word ‘regulate,’ when used in the context of regulating expressive activity, can encompass a range of different types of regulations.” Petitioners objected to the modified ballot title, arguing among other things that it failed to comply with the Supreme Court’s opinion because it did not signal that “regulate” was undefined. The Supreme Court agreed that the changes the Attorney General made in the caption and “yes” result statement were not sufficient. “We appreciate the difficulty that the Attorney General faces in trying to accurately describe the nuances of complex measures in a limited amount of words. However, we reiterate what we previously said: the caption and the ‘yes’ result statement should state that the word regulate is undefined.” The modified ballot title was referred to the Attorney General for modification. View "Markley/Lutz v. Rosenblum" on Justia Law

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Petitioner ACN Opportunity, LLC (ACN) sold satellite television, telephone, internet, and home security services, as well as some goods related to those services, through a network of direct-to-consumer sellers that it calls “independent business owners” (IBOs). The Employment Department determined that ACN was an employer and thus was required to pay unemployment insurance tax on earnings that ACN paid to the IBOs for their sales work. An administrative law judge (ALJ) affirmed that determination, concluding that the IBOs did not fall within the exemption from employment under ORS 657.087(2) and were not independent contractors under ORS 670.600. ACN appealed the department’s final order, and the Court of Appeals affirmed. The Oregon Supreme Court accepted review of this case primarily to address the statutory interpretation questions that this case presented. First, the Court concluded the IBOs did not qualify as independent contractors, because ACN failed to establish that the IBOs were customarily engaged in an independently established business. In reaching that conclusion, (1) the Court construed “maintains a business location” in ORS 670.600(3)(a) as the Court of Appeals did, and (2) the Supreme Court agreed with the Court of Appeals that the IBOs lacked the required authority to hire others to provide services, as provided in ORS 670.600(3)(e). Finally, the Supreme Court rejected ACN’s reading of the in-home sales exemption from employment in ORS 657.087(2) and concluded the IBOs do not fall within that exemption. As a result, the Court of Appeals’ decision and the final order of the ALJ were affirmed. View "ACN Opportunity, LLC v. Employment Dept." on Justia Law

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In April 2017, defendant Zachary Ball was charged by indictment with six Class C felonies. Appellant, who was a crime victim, filed a claim in the trial court, pursuant to ORS 147.515, alleging that the trial court violated her right to be heard when it sentenced the defendant who had committed crimes against her. In December 2017, the trial court facilitated settlement negotiations between the prosecutor and defendant, who was represented by counsel. Although appellant did not participate in those negotiations, she sat in the hallway outside the room where the negotiations occurred, and the prosecutor consulted with her before ultimately agreeing with defendant to terms of a plea and sentencing. The sentencing hearing took place in January 2018; appellant attended. Appellant was given approximately twenty minutes to deliver her statement; thereafter, defendant was sentenced to 28 months’ imprisonment and 32 months’ post-prison supervision for attempted assault in the second degree, 18 months’ imprisonment and 24 months post-prison supervision for assault in the fourth degree, to be served concurrently, and 60 months’ probation for coercion. Upon receipt of appellant’s claim, the trial court held a hearing. The trial court acknowledged that it had interrupted appellant’s victim impact statement twice and stopped appellant before she had the opportunity to complete her statement. As to both of the interruptions and the termination of appellant’s statement, the trial court stated that its objective had been “to focus on the statements that [appellant] wanted to say and how she felt about it, and about the crimes that * ** defendant was convicted of.” The Oregon Supreme Court held a trial court has the authority and responsibility to conduct a sentencing hearing in an orderly and expeditious manner and may exclude certain statements by victims, including those that are irrelevant, unfairly prejudicial, or cumulative. In addition, a trial court may limit a victim impact statement if the victim disregards the trial court’s appropriate instructions regarding the content or length of the statement. In this case, the trial court’s interruptions of appellant’s statement, which were for the permissible purpose of having appellant focus on the charged crimes and her own experiences with the defendant, did not violate appellant’s right to be heard. However, the trial court’s termination of appellant’s statement, when appellant was discussing a relevant topic that was not outside the limits imposed by the trial court, did violate appellant’s right to be heard. Therefore, the Court reversed the trial court’s decision denying appellant’s claim, vacated defendant’s sentence, and remanded the case to the trial court for a new sentencing hearing. View "Oregon v. Ball" on Justia Law

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Two sets of petitioners challenged the Oregon Attorney General’s certified ballot title for Initiative Petition 33 (2018) (IP 33). If adopted, IP 33 would require that “government employee unions” annually report certain information to the Secretary of State, primarily how dues would be spent on union administration. Chief petitioners Schworak and Mitchell challenged the summary, while petitioners Lutz and Schwartz challenged all parts of the certified ballot title. After reviewing the petitioners’ arguments, the Oregon Supreme Court concluded that the proposed caption, the “no” result statement, and the summary did not substantially comply and must be modified. The “yes” result statement did substantially comply and did not require modification. View "Lutzv. Rosenblum" on Justia Law

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Defendant Gregory Stewart knocked on a woman’s door early one morning. The woman thought she recognized defendant and let him inside her apartment. Shortly thereafter, the woman realized she had mistaken defendant for someone else, but she did not ask him to leave. Instead, the two sat in the living room and smoked marijuana. Defendant made the woman uncomfortable and later followed her to her bedroom, prompting the woman to ask defendant to leave. The woman refused defendant’s request to stay, he asked for sandwich bags. Defendant commented that he “needed to make some money,” removed a bag from his pocket, and went into the bathroom, where he spilled a substance on the floor. When defendant finished in the bathroom, he used the woman’s phone to call for a ride. Defendant said she could have whatever remained of the substance on her floor and left. The woman then called 9-1-1, reporting that defendant spilled a “white, powdery substance” on her bathroom floor, asked if she or anyone that she knew wanted to “buy some” of the substance, and stated several times that he “needed to make some money.” Police located defendant near the apartment, discovering small bags containing methamphetamine on defendant and arrested him. Police also determined that the substance on the bathroom floor was methamphetamine and, after transporting defendant, found a glove containing methamphetamine in their patrol car. Defendant was charged with various crimes, including unlawful delivery of methamphetamine. In this case, the Oregon Supreme Court concluded that to prove that a delivery “is for consideration” under ORS 475.900 (2)(a) and that an enhanced sentence is therefore merited, the state is required to offer evidence that a defendant either entered into an agreement to sell or completed a sale of the specified drugs. The Court held that evidence a defendant possessed the drugs with the intent to sell them is insufficient. The Court reversed the decision of the Court of Appeals, and remanded this case for resentencing. View "Oregon v. Stewart" on Justia Law

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Defendant Gregory Stewart knocked on a woman’s door early one morning. The woman thought she recognized defendant and let him inside her apartment. Shortly thereafter, the woman realized she had mistaken defendant for someone else, but she did not ask him to leave. Instead, the two sat in the living room and smoked marijuana. Defendant made the woman uncomfortable and later followed her to her bedroom, prompting the woman to ask defendant to leave. The woman refused defendant’s request to stay, he asked for sandwich bags. Defendant commented that he “needed to make some money,” removed a bag from his pocket, and went into the bathroom, where he spilled a substance on the floor. When defendant finished in the bathroom, he used the woman’s phone to call for a ride. Defendant said she could have whatever remained of the substance on her floor and left. The woman then called 9-1-1, reporting that defendant spilled a “white, powdery substance” on her bathroom floor, asked if she or anyone that she knew wanted to “buy some” of the substance, and stated several times that he “needed to make some money.” Police located defendant near the apartment, discovering small bags containing methamphetamine on defendant and arrested him. Police also determined that the substance on the bathroom floor was methamphetamine and, after transporting defendant, found a glove containing methamphetamine in their patrol car. Defendant was charged with various crimes, including unlawful delivery of methamphetamine. In this case, the Oregon Supreme Court concluded that to prove that a delivery “is for consideration” under ORS 475.900 (2)(a) and that an enhanced sentence is therefore merited, the state is required to offer evidence that a defendant either entered into an agreement to sell or completed a sale of the specified drugs. The Court held that evidence a defendant possessed the drugs with the intent to sell them is insufficient. The Court reversed the decision of the Court of Appeals, and remanded this case for resentencing. View "Oregon v. Stewart" on Justia Law

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The Oregon Commission on Judicial Fitness and Disability filed a formal complaint alleging 13 misconduct counts against respondent, the Honorable Vance Day, involving Oregon Code of Judicial Conduct Rule 2.1; Rule 2.2; Rule 3.3(B); Rule 3.7(B); courteous to litigants); and Article VII (Amended), sections 8(1)(b), (c), and (e), of the Oregon Constitution. After conducting a hearing, the commission filed a recommendation with the Oregon Supreme Court, to the effect that clear and convincing evidence supported a conclusion that respondent had violated multiple rules with respect to eight of the counts, including violations not alleged in the complaint. The commission further recommended that respondent be removed from office. Respondent argued the Supreme Court should have dismissed all or several counts for procedural reasons; that the commission did not sufficiently prove the alleged misconduct; and, in any event, that the only appropriate sanction was a censure. After review, the Oregon Court dismissed two of the eight counts of the complaint that were at issue; the Court declined to consider any violation that the Commission did not originally allege in its complaint. The Supreme Court concluded the Commission proved by clear and convincing evidence that respondent engaged in some of the misconduct alleged in the remaining six counts. The Court suspended respondent, without pay, for three years. View "In re Day" on Justia Law

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Defendant Israel Tena, Jr. was convicted of felony fourth-degree assault constituting domestic violence. On appeal, he challenged the admission of evidence that he had previously assaulted two other intimate partners within the last 14 years. The state argued that the evidence was admissible to prove intent, and the Court of Appeals agreed. The Oregon Supreme Court concluded the evidence of the two prior incidents of domestic violence were impermissible character evidence. Therefore, the Court reversed the decision of the Court of Appeals. View "Oregon v. Tena" on Justia Law