From the Multnomah Lawyer: News from the Courthouse June 2019

Presiding Judge’s Report and Courthouse Update – Presiding Judge Stephen Bushong and Barbara Marcille, Trial Court Administrator

Judicial Appointments/Updates
New judges Amy Baggio and Heidi Moawad have begun their appointments and will be rotating through several dockets in their first six months on the bench. Judge Karin Immergut’s appointment to the federal bench has not yet been confirmed by the Senate; confirmation is still expected to occur shortly after Congress reconvenes.

The court converted its calendar and email systems from Lotus Notes to Microsoft Outlook during the month of May. The conversion generally should not have been evident to practitioners; however, during the migration some listserv emails may have looked slightly different or got caught in spam filters. The court asks for patience - as with any software change there may be some unexpected issues. The conversion is being completed statewide. Multnomah County was the last county to complete the move to Outlook calendars and email. Due to the number of staff and judges in Multnomah County, the migration was completed in multiple waves, with the last Lotus Notes users converted to Outlook on May 28.

SLR Updates
Judge Bushong requested input from the bar on any changes, updates, or amendments. Feedback on the SLRs was directed to Barbara Marcille and Judge Bushong last month. In addition to bar input, judges and court staff are reviewing and making suggestions to make the SLRs more user-friendly. The family law bench is looking at a more extensive update. Any SLR changes requested by the court must be submitted to the UTCR Committee for approval and then approved by the Chief Justice. Once all approvals have been made, the updated SLRs will take effect February 1, 2020. In general, the UTCR Committee will approve requested SLRs as long as they comply with Oregon statutes, UTCRs, and case law.

Lawyers appearing at ex parte seeking a temporary restraining order should bring the motion, supporting declarations, and proposed order to Room 204 before the ex parte hearing if possible.
This gives the judge an opportunity to review the materials before the hearing. TRO motions may be heard by the Presiding Judge or assigned to another judge for an immediate hearing, depending on the circumstances. 

Criminal Law 
Chief Criminal Judge Cheryl Albrecht has updated misdemeanor procedures from arraignment to trial; the updated procedures are posted on the court’s website. In addition, procedures for complying with
ORS 3.014, which requires certain violations and misdemeanors to be heard in the East County Courthouse and, in some instances, transferred to the downtown courthouse, are posted on the court’s website. 

East County Courthouse
The East County Courthouse (ECC), located at the corner of 185th and Stark, is available for civil trials of four days or less starting on Monday of the first full week of any month. A judge will be assigned to cover civil trials at the ECC, and enough jurors are summoned during that week for civil trials. The ECC is a state-of-the-art facility that features large, easily accessible courtrooms. Free parking is available at the courthouse for attorneys, parties, witnesses and others; the ECC is also just one block from the MAX line. Misdemeanor trials, traffic violations, restraining order hearings, and other court proceedings already occur at the ECC on a regular basis. Family law judges also regularly rotate to the ECC to hear family law matters.

New Courthouse Funding
The Legislative Assembly is considering the court’s request for the $9.3 million needed to move to the new courthouse and purchase the final pieces of technology and furniture needed to make the courthouse functional. Eight point five million of the funds will come from the sale of bonds, not from the general fund, so this request is not competing with school funding and other requests for general fund dollars. Judge Nan Waller and Trial Court Administrator Barbara Marcille have been working with the legislature to secure that funding. Most legislators have expressed interest in the improved access to justice and programming that the new courthouse will provide, so we are cautiously optimistic that this final funding request for the new courthouse will be approved this session. Judge Bushong notes that, although he will be the Presiding Judge when the new courthouse opens, Judge Waller, Barb Marcille, the MBA, and others deserve the credit for making the new courthouse a reality.

Court Activities
It has been five years since the court went live with the Odyssey case management system and the elimination of paper case files. To recognize the huge change successfully completed and to look ahead to the transition to the new courthouse, on May 10 the court held a “Back to the Future” themed celebration for staff and judges. The conversion to Odyssey took place in May 2014, and the move to the new courthouse will take place in or around May 2020.

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