November 26, 2002
One thing consistent with
all governments is that they never draw enough money out of the
economy to sustain their operations. If they are getting 500 million
dollars from the taxpayers, they will soon need a billion, then a billion and a
half, and soon, that will not be enough to sustain their operations. No matter
how many billions it draws, it will never be enough, for they will need more.
And this cycle always continues until the people rebel and will pay no more for
government operations, and government collapses.
Contemplate the below official report from
the State of Oregon stating that they must start shutting down the courts for
lack of funding. Of course, we know that governments always first use their
"scare tactics" to attempt to frighten the people that the sky is falling if
they don't pony up more money, but eventually the consequences of truth cannot
be avoided, and it does collapse. "Be not deceived: God is not mocked:
Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." Gal. 6:7 Whether it be
a man, or a civilization, this principle is absolute, and cannot be
avoided. -Ron Branson
A message from the Chief Justice of the Oregon Supreme
As you are aware, our state is in the midst of an
unprecedented fiscal crisis. Our court system has taken significant budget and
staffing cuts already, and now we are preparing for even more devastating impact
as we wrestle with eliminating $13.6 million more in funding for the judicial
branch, including $8 million in court operations alone.
Early this month,
I appointed a Budget Reduction Advisory Committee, charged with crafting a plan
for implementing the cuts. More information will be released as we finalize the
details in the next week. Local court plans are in development or will be
shortly. I am aware, however, that rumors are surfacing about the impact on
court operations, and I would like to share the major tenets of the
As it now stands, effective March 1, I will implement several
measures statewide in our courts, which I've outlined below. The impact is
delayed because it is partly dependent on the outcome of the January 28 tax
measure. While the money has already been cut from the judicial budget, it
will be partially restored if the January measure passes. However, even if the
measure passes, the December revenue forecasts and other loss of state funding
could further reduce the judiciarys budget.
Following is the plan
for March 1 to June 30, 2003, for court operations. Several actions will need to
occur prior to then to implement it on time:
Court Closures. All appellate,
tax, and circuit courts statewide will close to the public on Fridays from
March 1 to June 30, 2003, due to staff reductions. All judges will work
Fridays, on items not requiring staff to be present. While trials will not
take place, case settlement meetings may be set for Fridays. All judicial
meetings, and judge committee work, will be moved to Fridays. Judges who have
pending matters under advisement will work on those matters, and on writing
Staff Reductions and Layoffs. Each court will reduce staff
work hours by 10 percent, reduce expenditures, and implement layoffs to meet
targeted cut levels. The determination of layoffs for each local court is not
yet available. Each court is working on a plan to be submitted to the State
Court Administrator for review. The local impact may be available around mid-
to late-November from presiding judges and trial court
Delayed and "No Action" Processing of Certain Case
Types. At this time, to meet the staff reduction levels, all courts statewide
will defer processing small claims and non-person misdemeanor cases. Cases can
be filed, but will not be further processed during the four-month period.
Starting now, these cases will not receive trial dates during that
The processing of all other case types
will be pared back and any processing slowed considerably due to the loss of
staff. Last December, the courts established a list of priority case types.
Violent felonies and juvenile permanency matters are at the top of the priority
list (i.e., the last to be cut); small claims and nonviolent misdemeanors are at
the bottom. At this point, the two case types that will be required
to have all processing stopped are the bottom two listed. However, how far up
the 18-item priority list the courts may eventually have to go will depend on a
variety of budget developments, including the December revenue forecast,
the January vote outcome, and any possible legislative actions that may be
considered. Statutory changes would be necessary to fully implement the
reductions on a permanent basis.
This process promises to be by far the
most difficult test Oregon's courts have ever faced. The people who will be hurt
by reductions in the courts are widespread in the communities around the state.
Our highest priorities are public safety and child welfare. We will maintain our
utmost commitment to those priorities.
Our courts touch every facet of
community life, in ways that many rarely consider, whether it be in small
claims, civil probate, traffic, landlord-tenant, domestic relations, juvenile
law, or the criminal justice system. The loss of court system
services to the public will impact cities, towns, businesses, and individual
citizens throughout Oregon. We have sought to minimize this impact as much as
possible, but significant change to our court operations cannot be avoided at
the level of budget cuts sustained.
Wallace P. Carson, Jr.
Oregon Supreme Court
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