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Defendant Christopher Warren was charged with multiple offenses in a single indictment. Defendant demurred to the indictment on the ground that it did not allege the basis for joining the charges. The trial court disallowed the demurrer, the case proceeded to a jury trial, and defendant was convicted. Defendant appealed, and the Court of Appeals held that an indictment that charges a defendant with more than one offense must allege the basis for joining the charges, but that any error in the indictment in this case was harmless. The Oregon Supreme Court agreed with the appellate court and affirmed defendant's conviction. View "Oregon v. Warren" on Justia Law

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While on patrol, Officer Klopfenstein stopped a van because one of its headlights was out. There were three passengers in the minivan. After asking the driver for his identification, the officer asked the driver about the passengers, and the driver explained that he had just met them. Klopfenstein returned to his patrol car to ask dispatch to run a records check on the driver. Klopfenstein noticed that one of the passengers in the back seat was acting as if he were extremely intoxicated. Klopfenstein asked that passenger for identification. The passenger responded that he did not have any identification that his name was Jonathan Shaw. When Klopfenstein asked Shaw to spell his name, Shaw gave multiple, inconsistent spellings of Jonathan. At some point, Klopfenstein directed his attention toward defendant Cassandra Stevens, who was sitting in the back seat next to Shaw. Defendant told him her name and added that she was on parole. A records check confirmed that defendant was on parole. After Klopfenstein implied that he would be speaking with defendant’s parole officer, defendant told him Shaw’s real name - Jimmy. Klopfenstein called defendant’s parole officer and the parole officer told Klopfenstein she recently had found a backpack with pills in it and that she thought that the pills belonged to Shaw. The parole officer explained that defendant had been with Shaw when the pills were found in the backpack and that, if defendant was with Shaw again, “it was [the parole officer’s] opinion that [defendant] was *** likely using drugs again.” A subsequent search and discovery of drugs in defendant's backpack lead to her arrest for possession. The Oregon Supreme Court allowed review in this case to decide whether stopping the driver of the van constituted a seizure of the passengers. The trial court ruled that defendant was not stopped until an officer asked her for consent to search her backpack, and it accordingly denied her motion to suppress evidence discovered during the search. The Court of Appeals upheld the trial court’s ruling but on a different ground: it determined that the stop did not occur until after defendant had consented to a search of her backpack.The Supreme Court held the stop occurred before defendant gave consent and that the officer lacked reasonable suspicion at that point, thereby reversing the Court of Appeals decision and the trial court’s judgment. View "Oregon v. Stevens" on Justia Law

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In juvenile dependency cases consolidated for review, the issue centered on the permanency plans for two children and half-siblings, L and A, under the jurisdiction of the juvenile court. The Department of Human Services (DHS) arranged for the children to be placed in relative foster care with their maternal aunt. The juvenile court held hearing in accordance with statutory timelines after L had been in relative foster care for about 15 months and A for about 12 months. At the hearing, DHS asked the juvenile court to change the permanency plans for the children from reunification to adoption. The juvenile court did so, but the Court of Appeals reversed, in two separate opinions. DHS sought review, arguing the Court of Appeals had erroneously interpreted the statutes pertaining to changing permanency plans for children within the jurisdiction of the juvenile court. The Oregon Supreme Court agreed with DHS that the Court of Appeals incorrectly construed the statutory requirements at issue. Because DHS met its burden to show that the requirements in ORS 419B.476 for changing the permanency plans away from reunification had been met, it was parents’ burden, as the parties seeking to invoke the escape clause, to show that there was a “compelling reason” under ORS 419B.498(2) for DHS not to proceed with petitions to terminate parental rights. The Supreme Court also rejected parents’ arguments that evidence in the record did not support the trial court’s findings in these cases. Accordingly, the decisions of the Court of Appeals were reversed and the judgments of the juvenile court were affirmed. View "Dept. of Human Services v. S. J. M." on Justia Law

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Defendant Dustin Kimbrough wished to have people killed and witnesses scared, so he sought to hire a hitman. For that, he was charged with and found guilty of several counts of attempted solicitation of aggravated murder and attempted solicitation of murder, which he did not challenge on appeal. The question before the Oregon Supreme Court asked whether defendant could also be convicted of attempting to commit the substantive crimes that he wanted the hitman to commit? After reviewing the text and history of Oregon’s attempt statute, the Court concluded that he could not. View "Oregon v. Kimbrough" on Justia Law

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The state filed an interlocutory appeal of a circuit court’s two pretrial rulings suppressing evidence. Defendant Homer Lee Jackson, III was charged with 12 counts of aggravated murder, relating to the deaths of four victims that occurred in the 1980s. He was brought to the police station for questioning regarding those offenses in October 2015, and the present appeal centered on the trial court’s suppression of evidence derived from a two-day interrogation. Defendant was a schizophrenic, and had a fairly long history of interactions with police in the Portland area. Defendant did not appear to have been a suspect early in the investigation, but he became a suspect after subsequent examination of the evidence. The trial court concluded that certain inculpatory statements that defendant had made during and immediately after the interrogation were not voluntary. The Oregon Supreme Court concluded the trial court did not err when it entered orders suppressing defendant’s statements made to the detectives during his interrogation as well as his admission to his sister during the telephone call at the conclusion of the interrogation. Accordingly, the suppression orders were affirmed. View "Oregon v. Jackson" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, former Starbucks baristas, sued the company claiming it improperly calculated state and federal tax withholding, and as a result, improperly deducted those withholdings from plaintiffs’ paychecks. As a result, plaintiffs claimed they were not paid the full wages they had earned, violating state wage-and-hour laws. After the case was removed to federal court and then remanded back to state court, the trial court ruled on numerous issues. Starbucks moved the trial court to dismiss plaintiffs’ claims. Starbucks petitioned the Oregon Supreme Court for an alternative writ of mandamus, raising questions of whether plaintiffs’ claims were prohibited by the AIA, and whether they were prohibited by the statutory immunity provisions. The trial court issued an alternative writ of mandamus. After the trial court declined to vacate its order, the matter returned to the Supreme Court. To determine whether direct appeal provided Starbucks with an adequate remedy, the Supreme Court would have had to resolve numerous complex issues of both state and federal law, not all of which had been briefed adequately. The Court therefore dismissed the alternative writ of mandamus as improvidently allowed, and remanded the case for further development of the record. View "Fredrickson v. Starbucks Corp." on Justia Law

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Defendant Brian Bement admitted that, on March 13, 2010, he shot and killed Greenspan. Defendant was a drug dealer, and Greenspan was a naturopathic physician who had invested in defendant’s drug dealing operation. The state argued that defendant killed Greenspan after robbing him of $20,000. But defendant maintained that the state had it backwards: Greenspan tried to rob defendant of $20,000, and defendant shot Greenspan in self-defense. To establish Greenspan’s motive for the robbery, defendant argued Greenspan viewed himself as being in significant financial trouble and in desperate need of money. As proof, defendant offered, among other things, 11 emails that Greenspan wrote in the months leading up to his death. The issue this case presented for the Oregon Supreme Court’s review required it to consider when an out-of-court statement reflecting a declarant’s state of mind was hearsay and, if so, when the statement falls within a hearsay exception. During the criminal trial, the court admitted some email statements written by the victim, but excluded others as hearsay. The Court of Appeals reversed, concluding that the excluded email statements were either not hearsay or were hearsay that fell within an exception to the hearsay rule for statements offered to prove the declarant’s state of mind. The Supreme Court concurred with the Court of Appeals and affirmed that court’s judgment. View "Oregon v. Bement" on Justia Law

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In 2009, Seneca Sustainable Energy LLC (Seneca) began construction of a biomass cogeneration facility on property that it owned outside of Eugene, Oregon. In this direct appeal of the Regular Division of the Tax Court, the Department of Revenue argued the Tax Court erred in concluding that it had jurisdiction to consider a challenge brought by Seneca to the department’s determination of the real market value of Seneca’s electric cogeneration facility and the notation of the real market value on the assessment roll for two tax years, 2012-13 and 2013-14. The department also argued that the Tax Court erred in concluding that the department’s determinations of the property’s real market values for the 2012-13 and 2013-14 tax years were incorrect and in setting the values at significantly lower amounts. Finding no reversible error, the Oregon Supreme Court affirmed the Tax Court’s rulings. View "Seneca Sustainable Energy, LLC v. Dept. of Rev." on Justia Law

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A magistrate court granted a taxpayer part of the relief requested. The magistrate accepted the property values that taxpayer requested for the two most recent tax years but did not accept the values that taxpayer requested for the first four tax years. Taxpayer appealed the magistrate’s decision by filing a timely complaint in the regular division of the tax court. The Department of Revenue (the department) did not appeal or seek any affirmative relief from the magistrate’s decision. Instead, the department moved to dismiss the complaint that taxpayer had filed in the tax court. The tax court granted the department’s motion, dismissed taxpayer’s complaint, and entered a judgment that gave effect to the magistrate’s decision. Taxpayer appealed from the tax court’s judgment to the Oregon Supreme Court, and the department has cross-appealed. The primary question presented for the Supreme Court’s review was whether the tax court erred in giving effect to the magistrate’s decision granting taxpayer’s requested relief for the two most recent tax years. Finding no reversible error, the Supreme Court affirmed the tax court. View "Work v. Dept. of Rev." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Jeff Gist worked as a driver for defendant Driver Resources, LLC. The other two defendants were related companies. In November 2013, plaintiff filed a class-action complaint against defendants, on behalf of himself and other similarly situated drivers. At issue was defendants’ compliance with Oregon’s wage and hour laws. In January 2014, defendants filed a petition to compel arbitration, on the basis of an agreement that plaintiff had signed with one defendant. Plaintiff responded to the petition by arguing that the agreement was unconscionable, and therefore that arbitration should not be compelled. The trial court granted defendants’ petition, requiring plaintiff to proceed to arbitration. Plaintiff made several attempts to obtain appellate review of the trial court’s order compelling arbitration. This case required the Oregon Supreme Court to determine whether the Court of Appeals correctly dismissed plaintiff’s appeal of a judgment dismissing his complaint with prejudice on the grounds that the appeal was barred by the Supreme Court’s decision in Steenson v. Robinson, 385 P2d 738 (1963). That decision set out the common-law rule that a party may not appeal from a voluntarily-requested judgment. The Court concluded the judgment was appealable and remanded the case to the Court of Appeals. View "Gist v. Zoan Management, Inc." on Justia Law