• Tue. Nov 24th, 2020

Raindrop Works

"Those who are capable of tyranny are capable of perjury to sustain it." Lysander Spooner

There’s been so much going on already just in the last few days that I have to give an update halfway through the week just to keep track of the stories that I still have to write (and there will be stories coming forward). So without further ado, here’s the recent courthouse news!

State Court Cases, Civil Cases

Right off the bat we’ve had a few new movements in the civil suits filed against the city for police actions. The Green case has now had it’s response to a motion to strike filed, which means at some point we will likely be seeing a hearing on that motion. At the heart of the matter seems to be the idea that the city is claiming that anything that happens to a protester who doesn’t leave after a gathering being declared unlawful is responsible for anything that the police might do to them, no matter how egregious. I hope I’m misunderstanding the situation, honestly. In the Weisdorf case, the city has filed it’s affirmative defense motion, an early key filing for this kind of case.

In the Josephs case, where a visitor from Montana was chased into his hotel lobby and arrested by police for asking about police transparency has just been removed from the state court to the federal court, due to the allegations of ‘a violation of rights, privileges and immunities secured by the Constitution’. I’ll still work on following this case, but federal cases are a little more difficult to keep track of.

A case that I’ve been meaning to add to the list makes it’s way on as well. The case of local legend Andy Ngo suing Rose City Antifa and a number of individuals is still slowly ongoing. The case arose from allegations of an assault against the conservative writer by anti-facists as well as claims that his home was attacked by protesters wearing Andy Ngo masks. One of the people that Mr. Ngo has claimed assaulted him is filing a motion to be removed from the case, saying he is not the person that Mr. Ngo claims he is, and that he never did anything to warrant being sued. This is another case that I know a lot of people will be expressing interest in, and my goal is to follow it closely.

Another case that seems to be moving fast is the McLain v. Swinney lawsuit, a civil suit that also ties into criminal charges that Mr. Swinney is also facing. According to Twitter posts by Ms. McLain’s attorney, an attempt to delay her hearing by Mr. Swinney’s counsel was denied by the judge, with what appears to be a very fast track now in place for trial dates. My understanding is that anything that Mr. Swinney says in a civil trial under oath can be used in his criminal trial, which makes this a very interesting situation to continue to watch.

On the flip side, however, the second civil lawsuit that Mr. Swinney is one of three members of a party to faced a similar motion to stay the proceedings, but since both sides agreed to it, the court allowed the case against him to be held for 90 days. Mr. Swinney’s lawyers stated that “Proceeding with this civil case will likely raise 5th amendment concerns under the US Constitution and likely cause defendant irreparable harm in both matters.” I hope to be able to get more information over the next few days to understand the difference in these cases, other than that one objected and the other was okay with the delay. In the meantime, the case will continue as normal for the other two parties named.

Class Actions against the city

The city has filed response against requests by the ACLU for certain information, similar to affirmative defenses in other civil cases. It’s the first action by the city in over a month in regards to allegations of Portland Police recording protesters that were not engaged in any law violations (including before ‘unlawful gathering’ declarations). This case arose out of an alleged violation of a previous settlement between the ACLU and the Portland Police in the late 1980’s. The last state based class action suit we’re watching, Evans v. City of Portland, has now had it’s judge, Judge Lavin, assigned, helping prepare the way for pre-trial work.

Criminal Cases of Interest

In the Oregon v. Swinney case, as I’ll be reporting on later, his attorneys petitioned the court yesterday to reduce his bail, which was denied, leaving him in Inverness with a bail of a bit over half a million dollars.

Meanwhile, in Marion County, the Oregon v. Parker case has had it’s own interesting twists. At his plea hearing earlier today, it appears he has pled innocent to at least one, but likely all counts against him. The case, originally slated to be heard by Judge Pellegrini, was immediately challenged by his attorney that the particular judge would not be impartial, and the case was moved to be heard by Judge Geyer. At this time, the specifics of why claim was made is unknown, but from past experience, the bar for making a claim like this in Oregon is very low.

Campaign Finance Reform/Government Transparency

While the election may be over and Ted Wheeler appears to have secured a second term, the lawsuits regarding his election campaign still continue. One that we reported on before was State ex rel v. Caballero, where lawyer and public records activist Alan Kessler successfully pushed for the city to be required to open an investigation into a $150k loan the mayor made to his campaign. The city was given 12 days to follow the process in the City Charter to investigate the complaint, which recently was closed as reported by the Oregonian. The city states there was nothing illegal about the loan, and now we wait to see what the response will be. Based on statements made by Mr. Kessler, it seemed that the question of a loan versus a grant could still be an active question, bringing this matter back to the courts later.

But as the saying goes, “No good deed goes unpunished”, and now Mr. Kessler finds himself the subject of a lawsuit brought by the city. The controversy stems from a significant records request he made from the city, and redactions that they want to make to the records to hide identities of city employees. The county district attorney has already said that the city needs to supply information that they don’t want to do, which means the next step in the process is a suit in front of a judge to sort out the details.

Editors Note: For full transparency, Mr. Kessler does support this site by helping provide access to the court records used in a large portion of the reporting. That said, we do our best to not let that color any of our coverage of cases he may be involved in.

Heather-Lynne Van Wilde

Reporter, Editor-in-Chief, owner of the 'pink walker'. Often found in court rooms and making cutting remarks on Twitter and Mastodon. Big fan of Open Source Computing, LGBTQ rights, BLM, Press freedom, and government transparency.

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