Justia Oregon Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Constitutional Law
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The post-conviction court granted petitioner Keith Ogle relief on the ground that, in the underlying criminal case, petitioner’s defense counsel failed to provide adequate and effective representation because he failed to employ an investigator, and that failure prejudiced petitioner. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the post-conviction court had erred because it granted petitioner relief on ground that petitioner had not alleged in his post-conviction petition. In doing so, the Oregon Supreme Court determined the Court of Appeals relied on a post-conviction statute, ORS 138.550(3), and cases interpreting that statute, for the proposition that any ground for relief that was not alleged in a petition was deemed waived. The Supreme Court determined the Court of Appeals erred in relying on ORS 138.550(3). "That provision is a res judicata provision. It governs the effect of a post-conviction proceeding on a subsequent post-conviction proceeding. It does not preclude a post-conviction court from addressing an unpleaded ground for relief within a single post-conviction case. Whether a court can address an unpleaded ground for relief is governed by the Oregon Rules of Civil Procedure, and ORCP 23 B allows a court to address an unpleaded ground if it has been tried by express or implied consent." The parties disputed: (1) whether petitioner’s post-conviction petition encompassed the basis on which the post-conviction court granted relief; and (2) if it did not, whether the post-conviction court could grant relief on that basis anyway because the parties litigated it. "Even if the petition did not encompass the basis on which the post-conviction court granted relief, the court could consider that basis because the parties had litigated it." View "Ogle v. Nooth" on Justia Law

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Defendant John Hedgpeth challenged his conviction for driving under the influence of intoxicants (DUII) by driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of at least .08 percent. The record consisted solely of evidence that a breathalyzer test measured defendant’s BAC as .09 percent nearly two hours after he drove and that defendant had consumed no additional alcohol in the interim. The Court of Appeals agreed with defendant that the state’s evidence was insufficient to demonstrate that defendant drove with a BAC of at least .08 percent. The Oregon Supreme Court allowed the state’s petition for review to consider whether “common knowledge” of the proposition that blood alcohol levels dissipate over time permitted a factfinder reasonably to infer that defendant drove with a blood alcohol level above the legal limit from evidence that defendant’s blood alcohol level two hours later was .09 percent, with no consumption in the interim. On those bare facts, the Supreme Court concurred with the appellate court that something more than the generic proposition that blood alcohol levels dissipate over time was needed to permit a nonspeculative inference that the defendant drove with a blood alcohol level above the legal limit. View "Oregon v. Hedgpeth" on Justia Law

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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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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

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Plaintiffs sought a declaration that the City of Lake Oswego had allow them recreational access to Oswego Lake, either from the shoreline of the city’s waterfront parks (from which the city prohibits all water access) or through the city’s residents-only swim park. According to plaintiffs, the common-law doctrines of public trust and public use protected the public’s right to enter the lake, and the city’s restrictions on access to the lake were contrary to those common-law doctrines. Plaintiffs also contended the city’s restrictions violated the Equal Privileges and Immunities guarantee of the Oregon Constitution. Defendants were the City of Lake Oswego the State of Oregon, and the Lake Oswego Corporation (which held title to riparian rights to the lake). The case reached the Oregon Supreme Court following a summary judgment in which the trial court assumed that the lake was among public waterways to which the doctrine of public trust or public use applied, but held that neither those doctrines nor Article I, section 20, entitled plaintiffs to the declarations they sought. The Court of Appeals affirmed, also without deciding whether the lake was a public waterway. The Supreme Court concluded the trial court correctly granted summary judgment on plaintiffs’ Article I, section 20, challenges. The Court also concluded that neither the public trust nor the public use doctrine granted plaintiffs a right to enter the swim park property and that the public use doctrine did not grant plaintiffs a right to access the water from the waterfront parks. But the Court concluded that, if Oswego Lake was among the navigable waterways that the state held in trust for the public, then neither the state nor the city could unreasonably interfere with the public’s right to enter the water from the abutting waterfront parks. Accordingly, the case was remanded for resolution of the preliminary question of whether the lake was subject to the public trust doctrine and, if the lake was subject to that trust, then for resolution of the factual dispute regarding whether the city’s restriction on entering the lake from the waterfront parks unreasonably interfered with the public’s right to enter the lake from the abutting waterfront parks. View "Kramer v. City of Lake Oswego" on Justia Law