From the Multnomah Lawyer: News from the Courthouse April 2020

COVID-19 Court Updates
The following article was written before the COVID-19 virus became a global pandemic. Since that time, court operations have been impacted significantly. For up-to-date information on court operations affecting your practice, visit the Multnomah County Circuit Court website (

Presiding Judge’s Report

Hon. Stephen Bushong

This is a busy time of the year for the court. The week before this article was written, presiding court sent out nine trials with a Monday start, and four more on Monday for that Tuesday.

1. To avoid the rush - if you have ex parte matters, come in Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday morning because Monday and Friday call dockets are the busiest.

2. If you’re scheduling court appearances, try to avoid scheduling things over spring break (March 23-27). There are a limited number of judges available that week.

The Oregon judicial branch has adopted its Strategic Campaign 2020-21. This was a culmination of a yearlong process led by Chief Justice Walters and the Strategic Planning Steering Committee. The campaign includes four separate commitments and several initiatives to be pursued by the courts in an effort to meet those commitments. Although Multnomah County Circuit Court currently meets many - if not most - of the commitments, this is the first time that a statewide strategic plan has been formalized. Multnomah County Circuit Court and OJD will use the campaign to educate the public and to provide the foundation for its legislative agenda. The document may be viewed at

The New Courthouse 

Barbara Marcille, Trial Court Administrator

The new courthouse will be open for business on Monday, July 20. The historic downtown courthouse will be closed Wednesday, July 15 through Friday, July 17 to facilitate the move to the new building.

The behind-the-scenes moving of dockets and closing of dockets has begun. Civil and criminal call will occur Tuesday, July 14 for Monday, July 20. Please be proactive with the court if you have trials spanning this period. Multiple options are available and the calendaring secretary and staff will assist. Jurors will be summoned to appear on July 20 for service in the new courthouse. All other Multnomah Circuit Court locations will be open during this time, and some downtown dockets will be located temporarily at the Justice Center, East County Courthouse, or Juvenile Justice Center.

Currently, furniture is being installed in the new courthouse; many of the courtrooms are already completed. The courtrooms are designed with state-of-the-art acoustics that will be a noticeable improvement over the acoustics in the old courthouse. The court will need to install over 4,000 pieces of equipment, test the equipment, and train staff on using it.

A grand opening/ribbon cutting ceremony is in the works. A committee is working on plans to honor the old courthouse and to kick-off operations in the new. Due to security restraints this may be an invitation-only event, but leadership is hopeful a celebration can incorporate the community that has worked so hard to get the new courthouse built.

Family Law Update

Hon. Susan Svetkey

To follow up on the new courthouse move, family law trial assignment will also be Tuesday, July 14, for Monday, July 20. Several dockets will be closed during the move. However, necessary dockets (restraining order applications) and five-day restraining order dockets will occur at the Juvenile Justice Complex. Violation of Restraining Order trials will not occur Wednesday, July 15 through Friday, July 17. Ex parte will occur at the Juvenile Justice Center. Three judges will be at the Juvenile Justice Complex to cover those dockets July 15 through July 17. Regular juvenile cases may be rescheduled to accommodate this additional workload.

In the last year the court has added two new family law judges: Hon. F.G. “Jamie” Troy and Hon. Morgan Wren Long. They both started at the end of October. It has been relatively seamless to work them into the department, and they are fully up and running. New referee Joe Hagedorn is getting up to speed at Juvenile.

In the last year, we restarted the Local Family Law Advisory Committee (LFLAC), which is aligned with the OJD’s strategic court planning goals. LFLAC’s goals are to make the court more accessible to self-represented litigants. LFLAC has expanded the Judicial Settlement Conference program, which is starting in the East County Courthouse this week. These are scheduled to take place two Thursdays a month. LFLAC has recruited judges to be pro tem judges to facilitate these conferences. Many lawyers have been interested, but only two have gone through the process. Please consider if you are qualified to serve as a family law pro tem judge to assist in this program:

Who: (1) Voluntary Case (both sides must agree); (2) Judge referred cases (by order).
What: Senior family law attorneys commissioned to sit as pro tem judges conduct the settlement conferences for pending family law cases.
When and Where: Central Courthouse: Wednesdays 9 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.
East County: Thursdays 9 a.m., 1 p.m.; and 3 p.m.
How: Contact Christine Hill or 971.236.8673.
Fee: $111 statutory fee per person, unless waiver or deferral.

The family law supplementary local rules have been substantially updated and revised. The new rules are effective now and have been since February 1. Please review the changes.

The Legal Resource Center (LRC) is scheduled for a “soft” opening in March. The LRC is open to everyone: lawyers, judges, but the main effort is to provide services to self-represented litigants. The initial focus is family law since there is already a self-help program in place. Danielle Ramos is the supervisor. Currently, there are two facilitators – Christine Hill and Danita Campbell. Danielle will be hiring two more facilitators. The center will have computers, a phone line, and email. Interpreter services will be available on demand by phone or video conference. Current resources are coordinating efforts to make sure participants receive the best services.

Free Lunch and Learn CLE in the Courthouse
The court and the Court Liaison Committee are working on a CLE seminar about the technology in the new courthouse. The goal is to offer the presentation on multiple days and will cover the pop-ups at counsel tables, types of technology integration necessary, etc. Details to follow.


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