Sunday, March 1, 2009

Justice Delayed = Justice Denied: Oregon courts to close on Fridays

As a huge insult to the separation of powers, the Oregon legislative branch is cutting funding to the judicial branch. March 13 through the end of June the courts will be closed on Fridays. Lengthy delays can be expected in civil matters such as landlord/tenant disputes, divorce, child support and child custody cases.

This means that children will not have certainty on where they will be living. Landlords won't be able to get rid of tenants who are damaging their homes. Victims of frivolous stalking and restraining orders will have a delayed chance to get a hearing, allowing abusers of the system to continue using the system to steal custody away from another parent. Taxpayers will learn firsthand the value of the justice system and the impact of justice denied.

Attorneys advising clients on the risks of trial are now having to advise clients on the chances of even getting a trial in a reasonable time. During a settlement conference last Tuesday, the settlement judge informed me and my client of an email he just received from the Chief Justice discussing the budget crunch through the end of June. We had a June date for a jury trial. With a client who has already had to endure three years of financial problems waiting for compensation, the uncertainty of actually getting a trial was worse than the uncertainty of a particular trial result. To him and his family, justice delayed any further than it has already been delayed is truly justice denied.

Oregonian article: State budget crunch prompts Oregon courthouses to close Fridays beginning March 13
Eugene Register-Guard article: Oregon courts may find savings in four-day week

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