Justia Oregon Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

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Defendant Mario Arreola-Botello was lawfully stopped for failing to signal a turn and a lane change. During the stop, while defendant was searching for his registration and proof of insurance, the officer asked him about the presence of guns and drugs in the vehicle, and requested consent to search the vehicle. Defendant consented, and during the search, the officer found a controlled substance. Defendant contended that the officer expanded the permissible scope of the traffic stop when he asked about the contents of the vehicle and requested permission to search it because those inquiries were not related to the purpose of the stop. The Oregon Supreme Court concurred with defendant that the trial court erred in denying defendant’s motion to suppress what the officer found, and reversed the decision of the Court of Appeals. View "Oregon v. Arreola-Botello" on Justia Law

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Two officers were in their patrol car when they saw defendant Eric Kreis in a restaurant parking lot around midnight. The restaurant had been closed for about 20 minutes, and the parking lot had recently been the site of several thefts. Defendant was standing “near” one of the approximately five cars in the lot, and the officers suspected that defendant might be trying to break into that car or might be attempting to commit DUII. While one officer ran the car’s plates, Mendez, an officer-in-training, approached defendant and initiated a conversation. Defendant did not provide any information in response to Mendez’s questions; instead, he left the parking lot and walked toward a paved pathway leading to the back of the restaurant. The two officers followed defendant and caught up with him as he stood on the restaurant’s back patio near the restaurant’s back door. One officer called out asking defendant’s name, and when he did not respond, the officers told defendant he was not free to leave. Defendant told the officers he did not have to talk to them. To one officer, defendant appeared angry and exhibited signs of intoxication. At some point, defendant was advised that if he did not cooperate, he would be arrested. He ultimately was, charged with interfering with a peace officer and with resisting arrest. After the state presented its case, defendant moved for judgment of acquittal on the interfering charge. Defendant argued that officers did not have reasonable suspicion that defendant had committed, or was about to commit, a criminal offense, and consequently, that neither his stop of defendant nor his order that defendant turn around to be handcuffed were lawful. The Oregon Supreme Court agreed the officer’s order was not a “lawful order” as that term was used in ORS 162.247(1)(b) and reversed defendant’s conviction. View "Oregon v. Kreis" on Justia Law

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This was a companion case to Penn v. Board of Parole, 365 Or 607 (2019). Like the petitioner in Penn, petitioner Brian Tuckenberry sought relief from a special condition of supervision, imposed on him by an order of the Board of Parole and Post-Prison Supervision, that required Tuckenberry to obtain permission from his parole officer before entering into any “intimate” relationship or encounter. But, unlike the petitioner in Penn, petitioner was unrepresented by counsel and did not raise the issues and arguments in his administrative review request to the board that he now raised before the Oregon Supreme Court. The board contended that, as a result, petitioner failed to exhaust administrative review as required by ORS 144.335(1)(b) and that his appeal, therefore, could not be considered on its merits. The Supreme Court concluded however, that: (1) petitioner objected to the special condition and complied with the statutory exhaustion requirement; and (2) the proceedings before the board were not of the sort that, under the general prudential exhaustion principles that ORS 144.335(1)(b) incorporated, would require petitioner to have raised the specific legal arguments that he raised here, on pain of being barred from judicial review of the board’s order. The Supreme Court did consider petitioner’s objections to the condition of post-prison supervision regulating his "intimate" relationships and encounters, and concluded, for reasons set out in Penn, that the condition was not lawfully imposed in accordance with the statute governing the board’s authority. View "Tuckenberry v. Board of Parole" on Justia Law

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When petitioner Prentice Penn was released from prison to post-prison supervision, the Board of Parole and Post-Prison Supervision included a special condition in its order requiring that petitioner not “enter into or participate in any intimate relationship or intimate encounters with any person (male or female) without the prior written permission” of his supervising officer. On appeal to the Oregon Supreme Court, petitioner contended: (1) the board lacked statutory authority to impose the condition; and, (2) the condition was unconstitutional under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment because it was vague or overbroad. The board noted that petitioner had completed his term of post-prison supervision and was no longer subject to the challenged condition; therefore, the board argued, a decision would not have a practical effect on petitioner’s rights and the case should have been dismissed. The Supreme Court determined that though petitioner’s appeal was moot, it was one that could and should have been decided under ORS 14.175, which provided an exception to the general rule (that moot cases should be dismissed) for cases in which a party alleges that an act, policy, or practice of a public body is contrary to law. On the merits of petitioner’s appeal, the Supreme Court held the board exceeded the scope of its statutory authority in imposing the special condition on petitioner. View "Penn v. Board of Parole" on Justia Law

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Petitioner Julie Parrish challenged the Attorney General’s certified ballot title for Initiative Petition 13 (2020) (IP 13). Intervenor Uherbelau intervened generally in support of the Attorney General’s certified ballot title. If adopted, IP 13 would amend Article IX of the Oregon Constitution to add a new section, section 16. Subsection 16(1) would require the State Treasurer to “calculate the unfunded actuarial liability of any public employee retirement program or system as of December 31, 2022.” The Oregon Supreme Court reviewed the ballot title for substantial compliance with ORS 250.035(2). After review, the Supreme Court concluded the ballot title for IP 13 did not substantially comply with ORS 250.035(2) in several respects, and therefore referred it to the Attorney General for modification. View "Parrish v. Rosenblum" on Justia Law

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Police Officer Hopkins initiated a traffic stop of defendant Khalistan Harrison. As Hopkins approached defendant’s stopped vehicle, defendant stepped out of the car, left the driver’s side door open, and began walking away. Hopkins followed her on foot. Meanwhile, Officer Barrett arrived at the scene. In observing the open driver’s side door, Barrett saw the upper handle and cylinder of a handgun tucked barrel-down in the door’s interior pocket, which was located below the window and armrest and lower than the level of the driver’s seat. According to testimony from Hopkins, the handgun would have been readily accessible to the driver and not visible “when the door was closed when there was a driver in the driver’s seat and the vehicle was traveling down the road.” Defendant was charged with unlawful possession of a firearm. At trial, defendant moved for a judgment of acquittal (MJOA), arguing that the handgun was not “concealed” within the meaning of the statute. The trial court denied that motion. Defendant also requested that the trial court give a special jury instruction concerning the definition of “concealed.” The trial court declined to issue defendant’s requested instruction and gave a different instruction, which will be discussed below. Defendant was convicted, and the Court of Appeals affirmed. The Oregon Supreme Court determined a handgun is “concealed” in a vehicle if the placement of the gun would fail to give reasonable notice of the gun’s presence, through ordinary observation, to a person actually coming into contact with the occupants of the vehicle, and communicating in a manner typical of such contact, such as through an open window. The Court determined the gun in this case was sufficiently “concealed” to support defendant’s conviction. View "Oregon v. Harrison" on Justia Law

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The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit certified a question of law to the Oregon Supreme Court on whether a constructive trust arises at the moment of purchase of a property using fraudulently- obtained funds, or if it arises when a court orders that a constructive trust be imposed as a remedy. Ronald Talmage ran a Ponzi scheme. Plaintiffs were victims of that scheme. Much of the money Plaintiffs invested with Talmage went to pay for a property he and his wife acquired, “RiverCliff.” When the Talmages divorced, a portion of moneys Plaintiffs invested with Ronald. Talmage failed to pay his taxes one year, and the IRS recorded tax liens on the property, leading to the underlying suit involving the constructive trust. The Oregon Supreme Court answered the first part of the Ninth Circuit’s question by clarifying that a constructive trust arises when a court imposes it as a remedy, but that the party for whose benefit the constructive trust is imposed has an equitable ownership interest in specific property that predates the imposition of the constructive trust. The Court answered the second part of the question by explaining that, in the circumstances of this case, plaintiffs had a viable subrogation theory that allowed them to seek a constructive trust based on equitable interests that predate all tax liens on the property. View "Wadsworth v. Talmage" on Justia Law

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In this case, the Oregon Supreme Court was asked to decide the scope of the state civil rights laws and antiretaliation provision in ORS 659A.030(1)(f). The question before the Court was whether the retaliation prohibited by the statute included includes disparaging statements made by defendant, plaintiff’s former supervisor, to an admissions officer at plaintiff’s MBA program. Defendant offered two reasons why it would not be: (1) he was not a “person;” and (2) his statements to the admissions officer did not “otherwise discriminate against” plaintiff, within the meaning of those terms as used in the statute. The Supreme Court disagree with both. “Person,” the Court determined, included all “individuals,” and “otherwise discriminate against” was a broad term that encompasses defendant’s conduct. The Court therefore affirmed the decision of the Court of Appeals, which ruled in plaintiff’s favor and remanded this case to the trial court for further proceedings. View "McLaughlin v. Wilson" on Justia Law

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Before the Oregon Supreme Court in this case was a child custody dispute arising out of father’s motion to modify a custody determination made at the time of the dissolution of the parties’ marriage, which awarded mother sole legal custody of child. At the conclusion of the modification proceeding, the trial court found that there had been a material change in circumstances concerning mother’s ability to parent child and that a change of custody from mother to father was in child’s best interest, and it awarded sole legal custody of child to father. On mother’s appeal, the Court of Appeals reversed the judgment of the trial court on the ground that, as a matter of law, there was insufficient evidence in the record to support the court’s finding of a change in circumstances and, thus, that custody modification was not warranted. The Supreme Court found sufficient evidence in the record supported the trial court’s ruling that father had proved a change of circumstances. The Court also addressed an issue that the Court of Appeals did not reach: whether the trial court erred in concluding that a change in custody was in child’s best interest. The Court held the trial court did not err in so concluding. Therefore, the Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals. View "Botofan-Miller and Miller" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law
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Defendant Shannon Carpenter was charged with hindering prosecution through concealment under ORS 162.325(1)(a). The State contended defendant had concealed a person for whom police had an arrest warrant. The State alleged defendant concealed that wanted person through allegedly deceptive statements about knowing the party or his whereabouts. The State also charged defendant with possession of a Schedule II controlled substance. Defendant appealed when the Court of Appeals affirmed his conviction for hindering prosecution. The issue presented for the Oregon Supreme Court's consideration centered on whether defendant “concealed” a person for whom a felony arrest warrant had been issued when, upon questioning by a police detective, defendant falsely denied knowing or associating with the wanted person. In response to defendant’s motion for a judgment of acquittal on the charge of hindering prosecution, the trial court concluded that defendant’s denials amounted to concealing the wanted person’s whereabouts, and it therefore denied defendant’s motion. The Court of Appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court concluded that, in requiring proof of “conceal[ing]” another person, ORS 162.325(1)(a) required the State to prove that defendant had hidden the wanted person from ordinary observation. Furthermore, the Supreme Court concluded the state’s evidence - defendant’s false denials of knowledge - did not satisfy that requirement. Conviction was reversed and the matter remanded to the Court of Appeals for further proceedings. View "Oregon v. Carpenter" on Justia Law