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Law enforcement officers seized and searched defendant Catalin Dulfu's computer and duplicated its hard drive. During a search of the duplicated hard drive, a forensic investigator discovered computer files containing visual recordings of sexually explicit conduct involving children. The state charged defendant with crimes based on 15 of the files. Defendant argued on appeal that the trial court erred in calculating his criminal history score under the felony sentencing guidelines. Under the guidelines, prior convictions generally increase a defendant’s criminal history score, unless they arose out of the same criminal episode as the crime for which the defendant is being sentenced. In this case, defendant was convicted of multiple crimes based on child pornography on his computer. Over defendant’s objection, the court increased defendant’s criminal history score after it sentenced him for each of the crimes, until it reached the maximum criminal history score. The Oregon Supreme Court determined a conviction does not count toward a defendant’s criminal history score if, for double jeopardy purposes, it arose out of the same criminal episode as the crime for which the defendant is being sentenced. Therefore, the trial court erred in using defendant's convictions for those crimes to increase his criminal history score as it did. View "Oregon v. Dulfu" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Emily Hodges alleged she was injured when the apartment balcony on which she and others were standing collapsed. Plaintiff alleged she suffered injuries to her spine, feet, right leg and hip, and right shoulder, for which she sought $325,000 in economic damages for past and future medical expenses and impaired earning capacity. She also sought $1,000,000 in noneconomic damages. Defendants Oak Tree Realtors, Inc., trustees of a family trust, and several individuals, deposed plaintiff and sought information about plaintiff’s discussions with her treating medical providers relating to her injuries. Plaintiff’s lawyer instructed her not to answer those questions, asserting the physician-patient privilege and that her answers would disclose communications she had had with her treating doctor. Defendants moved to compel answers to their questions regarding her discussions with treating doctors, contending that plaintiff’s communications with them were not protected by the physician-patient privilege. Accepting defendants’ argument that the communications fell within the exception in OEC 504-1(4)(b), the trial court ordered plaintiff to testify regarding communications with her treating doctor. Plaintiff then petitioned the Oregon Supreme Court for a peremptory writ of mandamus, seeking to have the trial court’s order vacated. The Supreme Court found the limitation in OEC 504-1(4)(b) applied only when the physical examination occurred under the authority provided in ORCP 44 and that, on this record, the limitation on the physician-patient privilege did not apply. Accordingly, the Court granted a peremptory writ of mandamus. View "Hodges v. Oak Tree Realtors, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Kimberli Ransom, the relator and petitioner in this mandamus proceeding, filed a medical negligence action alleging that two radiologists employed by Radiology Specialists of the Northwest (defendant) were negligent in reading her imaging studies when they examined them in 2013. In 2016, during discovery in that underlying action, plaintiff took the depositions of the radiologists. The radiologists testified to the findings that they had made after examining plaintiff’s imaging studies, but, when plaintiff showed the radiologists the studies, they testified that they had no independent memory of reviewing them. When plaintiff then asked the radiologists to tell her what they could now see in those studies, defense counsel instructed the radiologists not to answer. Defense counsel took the position that those questions called for “expert testimony” that was not discoverable under ORCP 36 B. Defense counsel also argued that those questions impermissibly invaded the attorney client privilege set out in OEC 503. Plaintiff filed a motion to compel discovery and sought an order allowing her to ask the radiologists about their current “knowledge and ability to read and interpret” the imaging studies. The trial court denied plaintiff’s motion, and she petitioned the Oregon Supreme Court for a writ of mandamus requiring the trial court to grant her motion, or, in the alternative, show cause why it had not done so. The Supreme Court issued the writ; the trial court declined to change its ruling. The Supreme Court concluded the questions that plaintiff asked the radiologists about what they saw in plaintiff’s imaging studies in 2016 were relevant under ORCP 36 B; they were reasonably calculated to lead to admissible evidence about the radiologists’ treatment of plaintiff in 2013 and what they perceived and knew at that time. The Court also concluded those questions did not call for impermissible “expert testimony” and did not invade the attorney client privilege. View "Ransom v. Radiology Specialists of the Northwest" on Justia Law

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Comcast Corporation challenged the Oregon Tax Court's construction of the statutory formula by which Oregon calculated the portion of its income taxable by Oregon. Based in part on those statutes, the Oregon Department of Revenue calculated that taxpayer had underpaid Oregon taxes for the tax years 2007-2009 and sent notices of deficiency, which Comcast appealed to the Tax Court. The Tax Court agreed with the department’s construction of the income-apportionment statutes and granted the department partial summary judgment on that part of Comcast's appeal. The Tax Court also entered a limited judgment to permit this appeal. After review, the Oregon Supreme Court concluded the Tax Court correctly construed the statutes that governed income-apportionment for interstate broadcasters, and affirmed the limited judgment. View "Comcast Corp. v. Dept. of Rev." on Justia Law

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Defendant Robert Langley, Jr. was convicted on 16 counts of aggravated murder in 1989. The Oregon Supreme Court affirmed 15 of those convictions in Oregon v. Langley, 839 P2d 692 (1992), adh’d to on recons, 861 P2d 1012 (1993) (Langley I), but vacated defendant’s death sentence and remanded his case for a new penalty-phase trial. The Supreme Court has since done so twice more, first in "Langley II," 16 P3d 489 (2000), and "Langley III," 273 P3d 901 (2012). This automatic and direct review proceeding arose as the result of the death sentence imposed on defendant in 2014 following his fourth penalty-phase trial. On review, defendant raised 77 assignments of error, only 12 of which the Supreme Court determined warranted discussion. Those 12 issues encompassed four broad contentions: (1) the penalty- phase trial court judge was, or appeared to be, biased and should not have presided over the proceeding; (2) the court erroneously admitted evidence not specific to defendant regarding the second capital sentencing question set out at ORS 163.150(1)(b)(B); (3) the court failed to expressly preclude jury consideration of aggravation evidence regarding the fourth capital sentencing question set out at ORS 163.150(1)(b)(D); and (4) the court erroneously applied sentencing-only remand provisions in capital cases arising before the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Penry v. Lynaugh, 492 US 302 (1989). Finding no reversible error, the Supreme Court affirmed defendant’s sentence of death. View "Oregon v. Langley" on Justia Law

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This appeal involved two post-conviction relief cases, which arose out of the same underlying criminal case and were consolidated for review. In Bogle v. Oregon, petitioner Tracey Bogle, who was represented by counsel, filed pro se motions pursuant to Church v. Gladden, 417 P2d 993 (1966). The post-conviction court denied the pro se motions, and, after a hearing on the merits of the grounds for relief that counsel had raised, the court denied relief. Petitioner appealed, arguing that the court had erred by failing to consider his pro se grounds for relief or, alternatively, by failing either to instruct counsel to raise them or to make a record of its reasons for not instructing counsel to do so. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that petitioner could raise his pro se grounds for relief in a subsequent post-conviction case. Both petitioner and the state petitioned for review, and the Oregon Supreme Court allowed both petitions. On review, the parties disputed what actions a post-conviction court had to take in response to a Church motion. The parties also disputed what effect the filing of such a motion has on whether the petitioner could raise the ground for relief in a subsequent post-conviction case, given that ORS 138.550(3) provided that any ground for relief that was not raised in a petitioner’s first post-conviction case was deemed waived, unless it could not reasonably have been raised in the first case. The Supreme Court held that in a case under facts similar to here, the question for the post-conviction court is whether the petitioner has established that counsel’s failure to raise the ground for relief constitutes a failure to exercise reasonable professional skill and judgment. If so, then the court must exercise its discretion to either replace or instruct counsel. "The purpose of such a motion is for petitioner to seek to have counsel raise the ground for relief in the current post-conviction case; it is not to enable the petitioner to avoid claim preclusion under ORS 138.550(3) and raise the ground in a subsequent post-conviction case." Applying those holdings, the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the post-conviction court and the decision of the Court of Appeals in Bogle v. Oregon, although its reasoning differed from that of the Court of Appeals. While Bogle v. State was pending in the post-conviction court, petitioner initiated a second post- conviction case, Bogle v. Nooth. On the state’s motion, the post-conviction court dismissed that case, citing both ORCP 21 A(3), which allowed a court to dismiss an action when “there is another action pending between the same parties for the same cause,” and ORS 138.550(3), which bars successive post-conviction cases. Petitioner appealed, and the Court of Appeals affirmed the post-conviction court’s dismissal under ORCP 21 A(3). Finding the trial court did not plainly err, the Supreme Court affirmed dismissal. View "Bogle v.Oregon" on Justia Law

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Capital One Auto Finance, Inc. (taxpayer) filed consolidated Oregon corporate excise tax returns as part of a group that included two corporate affiliates. Taxpayer disputed the Department of Revenue’s contention that it owed additional taxes. Ultimately, the issue in this case was whether taxpayer’s corporate affiliates, which did not have a physical presence in this state, were subject to either Oregon’s corporate excise tax or its corporate income tax for the tax years 2006-2008. Preliminarily, taxpayer also asserted the department lacked the authority to assert for the first time in the Tax Court that the affiliates were subject to corporate income tax. Ruling on cross-motions for summary judgment, the Tax Court concluded that the affiliates were subject to the corporate income tax and entered judgment in favor of the department. The Oregon Supreme Court concluded: (1) the department timely raised the corporate income tax issue; and (2) the corporate affiliates were subject to the corporate income tax based on “income derived from sources within this state.” View "Capital One Auto Finance, Inc. v. Dept. of Rev." on Justia Law

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Defendant Jacob Bliss sought to suppress evidence discovered in a warrantless search of his car, asserting that, because he had been stopped for a traffic infraction rather than in connection with a crime, the police officer’s failure to obtain a warrant was not excused by the automobile exception to the warrant requirement of Article I, section 9, of the Oregon Constitution. In March 2014, a police officer stopped defendant for speeding after observing him driving 79 miles per hour in a 60-mile-per-hour zone. The officer approached the car and asked defendant for his license and registration. Defendant appeared to be very nervous and he was sweat- ing heavily. A strong odor of marijuana emanated from the car. The officer’s check of defendant’s records revealed that defendant did not own the car, that the license plates on the car were registered to a different car, and that defendant was a state and federal parolee. While the officer questioned defendant, defendant repeatedly reached under the seat. Based on defendant’s conduct and other observations, defendant was ordered out of the car and patted down. The search netted a pipe used to smoke methamphetamine. A test of residue on the pipe affirmed it was methamphetamine. Defendant was subsequently arrested. The trial court ruled that the automobile exception applied and that no warrant was necessary. It therefore declined to suppress the evidence. The Court of Appeals affirmed. Finding no reversible error, the Oregon Supreme Court affirmed. View "Oregon v. Bliss" on Justia Law

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Three people - Debra, Michelle, and Charles - shared a house in Lincoln City. Defendant Adam Anderson needed a place to stay, and Debra and Michelle agreed that defendant could “crash” at their house for a couple of days. The weekend after defendant began staying at their house, Debra tried to withdraw money from her bank account at an ATM but was unable to do so. On Monday morning, Debra checked with the bank and learned that someone had withdrawn $300 from her account at a Wells Fargo ATM and that the personal identification number (PIN) for her account had been changed. She also learned that, six or seven minutes after $300 had been withdrawn from the Wells Fargo ATM, someone had attempted to withdraw additional funds from her account at a nearby Bank of America ATM. After learning that information, Debra went home and found that her emergency ATM card, with her PIN attached, had been taken from the dresser drawer in her bedroom. She also realized that defendant had moved out of her house on Sunday rather than later, as he initially had planned. Debra notified the police, who obtained a surveillance video from the Bank of America ATM. The police showed Debra and Michelle stills taken from the video, which depicted a person attempting to use Debra’s ATM card at the Bank of America ATM and also walking away from the ATM. The stills either do not show the person’s face or do not do so clearly. Despite that fact, both Debra and Michelle identified the person in the stills as defendant, based on the clothing that the person was wearing and the person’s general physical resemblance (height and build) to defendant. To support its claim that it was defendant depicted from images taken at the ATMs, the prosecution offered a booking video taken approximately two weeks after the ATM images. Defendant objected to admission of the video. The Court of Appeal reversed, noting that while the trial court found the video relevant, it did not expressly identify its probative value, or expressly balance the probative value against its prejudicial effect. The Oregon Supreme Court disagreed after review of the trial court record, and was satisfied that pursuant to the applicable case law, the trial court’s use of the word “relevant” served as a shorthand way of describing the trial court’s agreement with the state that the video was very relevant to prove a central issue in the case, and the trial court's statements regarding the video were sufficient to show the court balanced the probative value of the booking video against the danger of unfair prejudice. View "Oregon v. Anderson" on Justia Law

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In 2017, the Oregon legislature enacted a law that imposed a tax imposed on each vehicle dealer "for the privilege of engaging in the business of selling taxable motor vehicles at retail in this state.” The issue in this case was whether that tax was subject to Article IX, section 3a, of the Oregon Constitution. As relevant here, Article IX, section 3a, provided that taxes “on the ownership, operation or use of motor vehicles” “shall be used exclusively for the construction, reconstruction, improvement, repair, maintenance, operation and use of public highways, roads, streets and roadside rest areas in this state.” Petitioners AAA Oregon/Idaho Auto Source, LLC (Auto Source), AAA Oregon/Idaho, and Oregon Trucking Associations, Inc. argued the Section 90 tax fell within paragraph (1)(b) because it was a tax “on the owner- ship *** of motor vehicles.” Specifically, petitioners contended that taxes “on the ownership *** of motor vehicles” included taxes levied on the exercise of any of the rights of ownership, including the rights to sell and use. Petitioners posited that the voters would have understood “the concept of ownership” to include “multiple segregable rights or incidents, principal among which were the rights to sell and to use,” and, therefore, it is likely that the voters would have understood taxes levied “on the ownership *** of motor vehicles” to include taxes levied on the sale or use of motor vehicles. The Oregon Supreme Court disagreed with petitioners' contention: the Section 90 and Section 91 taxes worked together, so that the Section 91 privilege tax could be imposed on in-state vehicle dealers without placing them at a competitive disadvantage to out-of-state vehicle dealers, which supported the conclusion that the Section 90 tax was a business privilege tax. Therefore, the Court held the Section 90 tax was not a tax “on the ownership, operation or use of motor vehicles,” as that phrase is used in Article IX, section 3a. View "AAA Oregon/Idaho Auto Source v. Dept. of Rev." on Justia Law