Tips from the BenchAugust 2009
By Judge Marilyn E. Litzenberger, Multnomah County Circuit Court.
New legislation and recent decisions of the Oregon Supreme Court and Court of Appeals generate these "tips" for trial lawyers in civil practice.
Filing Fees - Effective July 1Hard times. The 2009 Legislature approved new filing fees for circuit courts effective July 1.The current filing fees can be found on each circuit court's webpage.
Now, this was news to me: The court clerk is authorized to collect fees associated with outgoing or incoming facsimile transmissions "as a courtesy convenience for parties, the public or counsel" at the rate of $2 for the first page and $1 for each additional page. It may be less expensive to hand deliver bench copies for the judge or even better yet to use a stamp and the US Postal Service. It will keep them in business a bit longer.
Additional fees go into effect on October 1, including a fee of $50 per party for judicial settlement conferences. It will also cost you $10 to present an order or judgment ex parte.
Statutory Construction - Legislative IntentPleading motions frequently raise issues of statutory construction. In State v. Gaines, 324 Or 160 (2009), the Oregon Supreme Court modified the familiar PGE v. BOLI analysis by allowing courts to consider legislative history at the first level of statutory analysis even when the court finds the text and context of a statute are unambiguous. If you are filing a motion to dismiss that turns on how a statute should be interpreted, you may want to include the applicable legislative history in your brief as an adjunct to the cases that have already interpreted the statute or like terms in a similar statute. Under Gaines, courts are free to give legislative history the weight the court deems appropriate. Further insight into how courts weigh legislative history can be found in subsequent opinion by the Court of Appeals in State v. Kelly, 229 Or App 461 (July 8).
For an easy to understand synopsis of the methodology used by Oregon courts to interpret statutes and constitutional provisions, you may wish to consult the helpful chart Justice Virginia Linder prepared and discussed at OLI's recent CLE seminar titled, "The Oregon Constitution: 150 Years in the Making."