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In this case, the Oregon Supreme Court reviewed a final order of the Department of State Lands (DSL) that granted a permit to the Port of Coos Bay (Port) in connection with the construction of a deep water marine terminal in Coos Bay. The permit allowed the Port to dredge 1.75 million cubic yards of material from the bay, while also imposing a number of conditions to address environmental concerns. Petitioners were environmental advocacy groups who argued the Port’s application did not meet the requirements for issuing a permit set out in ORS 196.825. An Administrative Law Judge held a contested case hearing and rejected petitioners’ arguments. DSL reviewed the conclusions of the ALJ and issued a final order affirming the permit. The Court of Appeals affirmed DSL’s final order. Petitioners contended DSL erred in failing to consider evidence of certain negative effects of the construction and operation of the terminal in the permit application review process. The Oregon Supreme Court held DSL properly considered the criteria set out in ORS 196.825 and did not err in granting the permit. View "Coos Waterkeeper v. Port of Coos Bay" on Justia Law

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Police initially suspected defendant William Miller was driving under the influence, and stopped his car. The officer asked defendant for his identification and returned to his own car to conduct a records check. The officer walked back to defendant and asked if he had a firearm with him. In response, defendant indicated that he “had a knife on his boot, or leg.” The officer removed two knives from defendant’s boot. The officer then administered field sobriety tests to defendant. He ultimately determined that defendant was not intoxicated but cited defendant for carrying a concealed weapon. Defendant moved to suppress the evidence that the officer had obtained as a result of his question about weapons. Defendant argued to the trial court that the officer’s question had unlawfully extended the stop because the officer did not possess a “reasonable suspicion, based upon specific and articulable facts,” that defendant posed an “immediate threat of serious physical injury.” In support of that argument, defendant elicited testimony from the officer that nothing about defendant’s conduct during the encounter had caused the officer to be concerned for his safety. The Court of Appeals agreed with defendant and reversed his conviction, emphasizing that nothing about defendant’s conduct during the encounter gave the officer a reason to be concerned for his safety. The Oregon Supreme Court concluded the officer in this case perceived a circumstance-specific of danger based on his explanation of the risk of performing late-night field sobriety tests on a person whom the officer reasonably suspected was intoxicated. The Court also concluded the state met its burden to prove that the officer’s perception of danger and decision that a question about firearms was necessary were objectively reasonable. View "Oregon v. Miller" on Justia Law

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Defendant Peter Fonte took a pair of jeans from the sales floor at a department store. He went to a cash register and told the store employee that he wanted to return the jeans, giving the impression that he had previously purchased them. The employee accepted the jeans and handed defendant $124.60 in cash. Defendant returned the next day and repeated the scenario but with a different pair of jeans. That time, he received $151.30 in cash. Defendant attempted to leave the store, but loss prevention personnel stopped and detained him until police arrived. At issue before the Oregon Supreme Court was whether defendant committed the crime of first-degree theft. The Supreme Court concluded that act was not sufficient to establish that crime, and accordingly reversed the contrary decisions of the trial court and the Court of Appeals and defendant’s felony convictions. View "Walters v. Fonte" on Justia Law

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Defendant Robert Henley was convicted of first-degree sexual abuse and attempted first-degree sodomy, arising out of child sexual abuse allegations by his stepdaughter during a family camping trip. The issue his case posed for the Oregon Supreme Court's review was whether the expert testimony that the trial court allowed about “grooming” children for later sexual activity was “scientific” evidence that required a foundational showing of scientific validity under OEC 702. At trial, over defendant’s objection, the trial court permitted a forensic interviewer to testify about defendant’s behavior that may have constituted “grooming” of the victim for sexual abuse if defendant had the requisite intent, without the state first establishing that the testimony about grooming was scientifically valid and reliable. On defendant’s appeal, the Court of Appeals held that the testimony was not scientific evidence for which a foundation was required. The Supreme Court concluded that the testimony was scientific evidence and that the trial court erred in admitting it without a proper foundation. Given the record, the Court declined to decide the validity and reliability of the expert testimony on review. The Court also concluded that the admission of the testimony was not harmless. Therefore, the Court of Appeals and the trial court were reversed, and the case remanded back to the trial court for further proceedings. View "Oregon v. Henley" on Justia Law

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Defendant Ryan Hamann drove while under the influence of alcohol and was arrested. The State charged him with felony DUII because defendant had two previous DUII convictions; defendant had been convicted of DUII in Georgia in 2007, and then again in Clackamas County, Oregon in 2010. Defendant argued on appeal of his conviction that, once he proved the Georgia conviction was constitutionally invalid, the trial court’s imposition of any additional consequence on him based on that conviction was inconsistent with his right to counsel, as articulated in City of Pendleton v. Standerfer, 688 P2d 68 (1984). The Oregon Supreme Court concluded the trial court correctly relied on the Georgia conviction to revoke defendant’s driving privileges as a civil disability (not a criminal punishment) and that the revocation was consistent with defendant’s right to counsel under the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution. View "Oregon v. Hamann" on Justia Law

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This mandamus proceeding arose from a dispute about a contract’s forum-selection clause. Trinity Bank loaned money to Apex, a drilling company. Michael Lachner, a part owner of Apex and the relator in this case, signed a personal guaranty of the loan. Apex defaulted on the loan, and Lachner defaulted on the guaranty. Trinity filed an action asserting separate breach of contract claims against Apex (on the loan) and Lachner (on the guaranty). Apex made no appearance, and a default judgment was entered against it. Lachner filed a motion to dismiss the action against him under ORCP 21 A(1), because the action was not filed in San Francisco as required by the forum-selection clause. Neither party disputed the meaning of the forum-selection clause, only whether it should be enforced. The trial court denied the motion, without making any findings or conclusions of law, stating that it “ha[d] discretion in [the] matter.” After review of the clause at issue, the Oregon Supreme Court concluded the clause should be enforced. The Court found none of the circumstances identified in Roberts v. TriQuint Semiconductor, Inc., 364 P3d 328 (2015) (as grounds for invalidating a contractual forum-selection clause) were present here. “Trinity’s objections amount to little more than dissatisfaction with the forum selection clause. The trial court’s factual findings indicate that Oregon might be a marginally more convenient place than California to litigate the case, but that is not the applicable legal standard. . . . As counsel for Trinity conceded at oral argument, it is not unfair or unreasonable to litigate the case in California. For that reason, the trial court did not have discretion to deny Lachner’s ORCP 21A (1) motion to dismiss based on the forum-selection clause: The law required the court to dismiss the action. It was legal error not to do so.” A peremptory writ of mandamus issued. View "Trinity v. Apex Directional Drilling LLC" on Justia Law

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The factual issue at trial was whether, as the State contended, defendant Thomas Bray forcibly raped, sodomized, strangled and assaulted J, or, as defendant claimed, J’s injuries resulted from consensual “rough sex.” A preliminary legal issue was whether defendant could compel the production of evidence that he viewed as supportive of his position. After the encounter with defendant, J had used her computer to conduct a Google search and make journal entries about defendant and the encounter. Defendant sought to compel the production of that digital data: Defendant filed a motion to compel the State to use its authority under the federal Stored Communications Act (the SCA)to obtain J’s records from Google, and he issued a subpoena duces tecum requiring J to appear at trial and bring her computer with her. The trial court granted defendant’s motion to compel, and, after some time and a number of hearings, the state eventually sent Google a subpoena for the records. Google did not comply; it took the position that a search warrant was required. Frustrated with what he viewed as the state’s defiance of the court’s order and refusal to do what was necessary to get the Google information, defendant moved to dismiss the charges against him. The court, unhappy with the State’s delay and “resistance or reluctance” to comply with its order, but satisfied that the State had done all that the court could direct it to do, informed the parties that it would not require the State to obtain a search warrant and denied defendant’s motion to dismiss. The court then conducted a bench trial. J testified, but she did not produce her computer in response to defendant’s subpoena. On cross-examination, J told the court that she had “flattened” her computer and that it therefore no longer contained digital information. The court denied defendant’s motion for an order requiring J to bring the computer to court for a forensic examination and, at the trial’s completion, found defendant guilty. The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s denial of “defendant’s motion to compel the state to obtain J’s internet information” and its denial of defendant’s motion to dismiss. However, it determined the trial court erred in denying defendant’s motion to enforce the subpoena duces tecum, vacated defendant’s convictions, and remanded to the trial court for further proceedings. On appeal to the Oregon Supreme Court, defendant challenged the Court of Appeals’ rulings with respect to the Google records and the State’s failure to obtain them. The State also petitioned for review, challenging the Court of Appeals’ ruling with respect to defendant’s subpoena and its conclusion that defendant’s convictions must be vacated and the case remanded. The Supreme Court determined the trial court erred in failing to require J to produce her computer for forensic examination. “J’s computer could have contained evidence that could have provided for an effective cross-examination of J, who was the key witness in the state’s case.” The Court determined the trial court’s error was not harmless, and therefore defendant’s convictions were vacated, and the case remanded to the trial court to order J to produce her computer and subject it to forensic examination. View "Oregon v. Bray" on Justia Law

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The issue this case presented for the Oregon Supreme Court’s review centered on defendant’s challenge under Article I, section 9, of the Oregon Constitution, to a warrant that authorized the search, seizure, and examination of his computer. Police investigated the injury of defendant Kaliq Mansor’s infant son while in defendant’s care; the infant later died at the hospital. Defendant told the police that his son had struggled to breathe and that he had used his computer to look online for first aid advice before calling 9-1-1. For that and other reasons, police seized and then searched defendant’s computer as part of their investigation. The forensic examination of the computer found internet search history shortly before the 9-1-1 call that was generally consistent with defendant’s statements, but the examination also revealed that defendant had visited websites and entered search terms related to the abuse of infants several times in the months and weeks prior to the infant’s death. The trial court denied defendant’s motion to suppress the latter evidence, and defendant was convicted of murder and other crimes. The Court of Appeals reversed the convictions, concluding that the warrant authorizing the search of the computer violated the particularity requirement of Article I, section 9, because it permitted the examination of everything on defendant’s computer. The Supreme Court affirmed, differing in some respects from the Court of Appeals. The Supreme Court concluded that the application of Article I, section 9, to warranted searches of personal electronic devices required a test that protected an individual’s right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures while also recognizing the government’s lawful authority to obtain evidence in criminal investigations, including through searches of digital data. “We acknowledge that, for practical reasons, searches of computers are often comprehensive and therefore are likely to uncover information that goes beyond the probable cause basis for the warrant. In light of that fact, to protect the right to privacy and to avoid permitting the digital equivalent of general warrants, we also hold that Article I, section 9, prevents the state from using evidence found in a computer search unless a valid warrant authorized the search for that particular evidence, or it is admissible under an exception to the warrant requirement.” View "Oregon v. Mansor" on Justia Law

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In consolidated cases, petitioners sought review of the Oregon Attorney General’s certified ballot title for Initiative Petition (IP) 43 (2018), contending that various aspects did not comply with requirements set out in ORS 250.035(2). IP 43 proposed a statutory enactment that, with exceptions including a limited registration scheme, would prohibit the unlawful possession or transfer of an “assault weapon” or a “large capacity magazine,” as those terms are defined in the proposed measure. After defining the weapons and magazines within its scope, IP 43 created a new crime, “unlawful possession or transfer of an assault weapon or large capacity magazine,” for any person who “manufactures, imports, possesses, purchases, sells or transfers any assault weapon or large capacity magazine,” with exceptions. After review, the Oregon Supreme Court referred the ballot title for IP 43 back to the Attorney General for modification of the caption, the “yes” and “no” result statements, and the summary. View "Beyer v. Rosenblum" on Justia Law

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The Oregon Supreme Court previously denied employer Shearer's Foods' petition for review in this workers’ compensation case, but addressed claimant William Hoffnagle's petition for an award of attorney fees for time that his counsel spent in response to employer’s unsuccessful petition for review. Employer objected that the Supreme Court lacked authority to award fees and also objects to the amount of requested fee. Although the Supreme Court often resolved attorney fee petitions by order rather than written opinion, employer’s objection to the Supreme Court's authority to award fees presented a legal issue that was appropriately resolved by opinion. Employer insisted the Oregon legislature had not authorized an award of fees for work that a claimant’s attorney performs in response to an unsuccessful petition for review; employer did not dispute that, after a series of amendments, ORS 656.386 specified a claimant who prevails against a denial was entitled to an award of attorney fees for work performed at every other stage of the case, including in the Supreme Court, if the Supreme Court addressed the merits of the case. "Employer offers no reason why the legislature would have intentionally created that one carve-out to what is otherwise a comprehensive authorization of fees when a claimant relies on counsel to finally prevail against the denial of a claim. Indeed, such a carve- out would be incompatible with what we have described as 'a broad statement of a legislative policy' reflected in ORS 656.386, 'that prevailing claimants’ attorneys shall receive reasonable compensation for their representation.'" The petition for attorney fees was allowed. Claimant was awarded $2,200 as attorney fees on review. View "Shearer's Foods v. Hoffnagle" on Justia Law