Tips from the Bench

November 2009
By By Judge Youlee You, Multnomah County Circuit Court.

After finishing a three-month rotation as the CPC judge, I have made the following observations that I would like to share with criminal law practitioners:

Do not LOFT a case that is definitely going to be a plea:

Do not leave a case on the trial docket if you know for certain it is going to be a plea. Doing so takes up valuable space on the trial docket and could cause another trial to get bumped. If you know your case is going to be a plea, set it on the further proceedings docket as a plea - do not leave it on for trial.

Thursday trial settings:

If your case is set for trial on Thursday, check to see whether it really will be a one-day trial. Many cases are left on for a Thursday trial date but really should be reported as one and one-half or two day trials. Unless the case is really a one-day trial, do not leave it on for a Thursday setting. If you expect the trial will last more than a day, move it to a day earlier in the week. DUII cases should never be set for a Thursday trial date.

Obtaining medical records for a hearing:

If you wish to set a hearing regarding medical records (e.g., a motion to quash or an in camera inspection), in addition to following any other procedures required by law or court rule, set the matter on the CPC further proceedings docket at least one week after the date on the subpoena. Please also provide a copy of the subpoena to the CPC judge's staff. That way, court staff will have sufficient time and notice to obtain the medical records from the records room before the hearing.

Do not call off a trial without the court's permission:

Occasionally, attorneys have determined that they will need a continuance and will excuse their subpoenaed witnesses before obtaining permission from the court. Set-over requests must be granted by the court. Therefore, unless the state is dismissing its case, do not call off or dismiss your witnesses without first receiving an order from the court as to whether the request set-over has been granted.

File your motions on time:

On a few occasions, I was asked to grant continuances because the attorneys recognized late in the case that there were motions that needed to be filed but they had failed to file them in a timely manner. No doubt, everyone has a busy case load. However, do your best to identify motions early in the case so that the trial does not have to be delayed (or, in the worst case scenario, your request for continuance is denied).