7 Reasons Why You Should Avoid Oregon’s Courts

May I reproach the bench?

#1 Due process not available in Oregon

There is no “due process” in the state’s constitution, and, as crazy as it sounds, “the Oregon Supreme Court didn’t notice for 100 years.” They assumed it existed that whole time (!) but erred when they decided cases based on that mistaken assumption.

Well, the thing with “due process” is that it’s not explicitly defined, and is instead like pornography: You know it when you see it.

And unfortunately, Oregon doesn’t know it when it sees it.

Consider that former Chief Justice Thomas Balmer, who has written extensively on due process, is the same guy who stripped a Portland man of those exact rights at the height of the #MeToo movement, based on allegations made not to the police, but instead to the man’s landlord. That landlord, a real-estate bazillionaire, had extraordinary access to law enforcement, prosecutors, the courts, and other state agencies.

#2 Racism is the bedrock of Oregon’s justice system

Oregon is arguably the most racist state there is, having been specifically created as a whites-only utopia where, according to law, a Black would-be-settler would be publicly whipped 39 times every six months, until they left. It was illegal for Black people to move to Oregon as recently as 1926 a time at which “one in 20 Oregonians” was a literal KKK member.

Judge Susie Norby’s freestyle bench verdict.

#3 Public defense is in crisis mode

Speaking of crumbling infrastructure which disproportionately affects Black people: Oregon’s public defense system has been called out for years due to its dangerously inadequate staffing levels and inability to track workload. Watchdogs have called the agency “not constitutional,” and it is now officially in crisis.

“[Walters] needs to know that EVERYONE, and I mean everyone, is entitled to be treated with courtesy, dignity & respect. Not just people with power. I’m quite sure she doesn’t treat the governor or the speaker this way. This goes not only for me but my staff the public defenders & most importantly our clients.”

And as an important aside, one of Walters’ immediate “solutions” was to slap a Band-Aid on the severed artery: She asked every warm body with a bar card — including lawyers without defense experience — to grab a mop. She even suggested that they help fix Oregon’s mess for free.

#4 Justice is for sale

Public corruption happens everywhere, but in Oregon, it’s a problem visible from space, if one cares to look: The erratic edges of fixed case dockets flash like red warning lights. Those dockets usually reveal that it is court staff prejudicing cases and judges, and then abusing their positions further to suppress inquiries into the official misconduct.

Oregon public corruption is often disguised as incompetence or impenetrable bureaucracy. Both are effective camouflage.

It should come as no surprise that such case-fixing happens on behalf of the politically well-connected. Consider a handful of civil suits against now-disbarred serial fraudster Lori Deveny, ex-president of the influential Oregon Women Lawyers association, and BFF of the state Bar.

#5 Transparency and accountability are pure fantasy

Whatever misconduct one experiences in Oregon’s courts, one shall depend upon the Judicial Department to cover it up and retaliate — in fact, that’s probably etched in Latin somewhere in Salem.

In fact, nobody is dealing openly with the misconduct happening at Oregon’s courts, especially not those who are perpetrating it.

Instead, it is evident that the statutory secrecy of the Judicial Fitness Commission is exploited on occasion, to quietly force the “retirement” of bad apples. The Commission only makes a public example of a single bad judge every few years. The rest — 99% of complainants — are instantaneously dismissed, branded “disgruntled,” and records of their grievances are kept away from the public. 99% is a statistically impossible number, and indicates that something has gone seriously awry at the Commission. Judges are elected officials, and claims of their misconduct should be a public record.

That’s pretty vague. For all we know, the Commission gave Judge Norby a high-five.

To illustrate how much of an outlier fauxgressive Oregon is in terms of judicial discipline and transparency, compare it to conservative Florida and Arizona.

#6 Mandatory malpractice insurance

Oregon is one of just two states in which attorneys must carry legal malpractice insurance. This creates an appearance of strong consumer protection for those harmed by incompetent lawyers.

#7 The Oregon State Bar is effectively a protection racket

The Bar is a state agency which is supposed to regulate the legal profession and protect the public… that’s what the Bar tells the Oregon Legislature whenever it asks for new Bar laws to be passed. But in fact, those self-authored laws (which few legislators challenge)¹ are designed almost exclusively to protect the Bar — not attorneys, mind you, but Bar staff.

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