From the Multnomah Lawyer: News from the Courthouse October 2019

Presiding Judge Update
Judge Bushong’s first two-year term as presiding is coming to an end. He has agreed to serve another term.

New Judges
Judge Steff an Alexander started on August 12. He replaced Judge Karin Immergut whose appointment to the federal bench has been confirmed. Judge Angela Lucero started on September 16, replacing the retired Judge Kenneth Walker. Morgan Wren Long will fill a vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Maureen McKnight and F.G. “Jamie” Troy II will fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Katherine Tennyson. Currently, the family law dockets have been covered by Plan B and other judges as best as the court is able. 

The judicial conference is scheduled for October 21-23 this year. Keep in mind there won’t be trials during that time as the judges will be gone.

New Courthouse Update
The court continues to plan for the transition to the new courthouse. The court created a taskforce, chaired by now-retired Judge John Wittmayer, to develop a plan for judges’ selection of their courtrooms and chambers in the new courthouse. Under this plan, the 10 family law judges will choose, in order of seniority, their floor; one family law judge per floor. The remaining judges will choose their floors, then their chambers and courtrooms, based on seniority. The presiding courtroom and chambers will be located on the seventh floor, while most other courtrooms and judicial chambers will be on floors eight through 17. All courtrooms and chambers are similar, but there are differences due to the shape of the building. The courthouse was designed for five judicial chambers and four courtrooms on each of the main court floors.

The court is pleased that the legislature approved the final budget needed to pay for moving expenses and equipment and furnishings, so the court will be able to move in when the building is ready. Judge Bushong offered thanks to the MBA and all who conveyed to the legislature their support for the new courthouse and the Oregon Judicial Department budget. The court is now working with the design team to finalize and order the remaining equipment and furniture for the new building.

The court is TENTATIVELY planning to move into the new courthouse June 11-14, 2020. Under this plan, the court would be closed June 11 and 12 (Thursday and Friday) with the move completed through the weekend and the court opening for business in the new location on Tuesday, June 16, 2020. 

There are still variables which could cause the schedule to shift, however the bar should be aware of the potential move date, and the weeks before and after, when trial dates are requested. There will be criminal cases that will have to go out; however, it would be good for those with more flexible dates to keep the move in mind when setting trials.

Good progress is being made on the completion of construction, and the county is planning a tentative ribbon cutting ceremony for June 10, 2020. Judges were able to tour the courthouse in September. There will eventually be public tours of the new courthouse coordinated with the Multnomah County Sheriff ’s Office. Currently, the building is still very much an active construction site and public tours are not feasible.

East County Courthouse Update
The sheriff originally planned to eliminate security from the East County Courthouse starting in July due to budget cuts. In response, the court consolidated dockets to minimize the use of the East County Courthouse to reduce the risk to the public and court staff . By statute, certain misdemeanors and violations that occur on the Eastside must be heard at the East County Courthouse; those hearings have continued to take place two days per week, on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

The county has temporarily kept security officers at the facility five days per week, so the building currently remains open for business Monday through Friday. Discussions are ongoing and there is a desire to maintain security screening and enforcement at the building. The court is committed to using the East County Courthouse to serve East County residents to the greatest extent possible if the building is adequately secured.

Judge Bushong’s Tips of the Month for Ex Parte

  1. Lawyers appearing at ex parte should bring a motion and proposed order, and (in many instances) a supporting declaration. This is needed to create a record of what occurred in the case file.
  2. If there is a “DR” in the case number, it is a domestic relations case and counsel must go to family law ex parte, not presiding court ex parte.
  3. It is not necessary to bring extra copies to ex parte; attorneys are expected to download a signed copy of the order from OECI if needed. The court ordinarily will not provide conformed copies for attorneys.
  4. Attorneys requesting a temporary restraining order ex parte are strongly encouraged to have a judge’s copy delivered to presiding court chambers before the ex parte hearing. That will give the presiding judge an opportunity to read the materials before addressing the matter at ex parte.

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