Chief Justice Order Amended Today

This evening Oregon Chief Justice Walters issued amended CJO 20-006.

In addition to continuing the Level 3 health restrictions already in place, the Chief Justice is seeking legislative authority to (1) extend or suspend timelines currently set by statute or rule, and that apply after the initiation of both criminal and civil cases; and (2) ensure the ability to appear in court by telephone or other remote means in most circumstances. If that authority is granted, a supplemental order will be issued.

With exceptions, proceedings and trials scheduled to begin earlier than June 1, 2020, are postponed, and no trials will be scheduled to begin before June 1, 2020.

The Chief Justice also ordered temporary suspension of collection fees and amended UTCR 21.090 and repealed UTCR 21.120. The net result of this change is to permit the use of electronic signatures by declarants if created with secure software.

Read the full press release here.

Court Operations Update

Trials and hearings likely to be postponed at least through April

Message from Chief Justice Walters, March 24, 2020

Your Constructive Comments Needed on Court Operations

By now you’ve likely read the following email:

Submit your suggestions by email to pubaff@osbar.org. Deadline: Sunday, March 22 at Noon.

Keep in Mind

We know what slows the spread of COVID-19. Flattening the curve by social distancing and cancelling or postponing activities. Court operations require many people to be present – cleaning staff to wipe surfaces, security, judicial staff, lawyers, parties, and for some cases jurors and jury pools.

If we persist as if nothing has changed, we aren’t social distancing and COVID-19 will spread.

The Role of Technology

Can technology come to the rescue? Maybe. Hearings by phone come to mind. It may also be possible to resolve some matters by video conferencing.

Priorities

But are the matters eligible for disposition by phone and video the most important judicial need? Perhaps. Perhaps not. We need time. Time to assess and time to make arrangements. Slowing things down gives us that.

The Snowball Effect

Believe me, I get it. Postponing matters set for March or April affects everything down the docket. Please be patient. We have one of the best court systems in the country. Look at your calendar. What can you juggle or free up? Talk to clients. The measures laid out in the Chief Justice’s Order are meant to save lives and spare illness. With a spirit of cooperation we can work this out with judges, judicial staff, and opposing counsel.

Parting Thoughts

Day-to-day life has changed. Courts must also change. So must our practices. Acting fast and acting now will shorten the impact of COVID-19 and will benefit us all in the long run.

Stay safe.

All Rights Reserved 2020 Beverly Michaelis

Your Forms Library is Your Most Important Asset

Forms and templates are the most important intellectual property owned by a law firm. We rely on them to be efficient, effective, and productive. But is that reliance misplaced?

The answer is yes, if we fail to devote the necessary time and resources to maintaining our most valuable asset.

Here are some suggestions for keeping your forms library in tip-top shape:

  • Update your forms in accordance with the annual rules cycle. Proposed changes to the UTCRs are effective on August 1 of each year. Supplementary Local Rules (SLRs) are effective February 1 unless disapproved. Set task reminders accordingly!
  • Monitor and flag out-of-cycle rule amendments by subscribing to OJD News and Media Releases.
  • Watch for Oregon State Bar CLEs and publications discussing pertinent legislative changes.
  • Use Professional Liability Fund (PLF) resources. The PLF publishes legislation alerts on the most significant changes made by the Oregon legislature. The December 2019 issue of In Brief covers updates in 13 practice areas. The PLF also offers forms, which it strives to update in accordance with the legislative cycle. Visit the PLF Forms page for more information and to view revision dates for documents pertinent to your practice. Also of interest are “Cases of Note,” included in each issue of the PLF In Brief.
  • Create a centralized forms library that limits editing rights, but grants access to all users. Capture the library as part of your backup and regularly test backup integrity.
  • Consider appointing a forms czar or committee. Establish a process for adding, updating, and dumping forms.
  • Ensure that form content is scrubbed of metadata and does not contain confidential client information. Variables – the client-specific information you will be inserting into the form to customize it – should be readily apparent. Using document assembly software like The Form Tool is the way to go.
  • Push notifications to firm members when forms in their area of practice change.
  • Ask firm leadership to stress the importance of using the centralized library versus hoarding resources on individual desktops or copying and pasting content from one client document to the next.

Start by Downloading the latest UTCR Forms

The latest forms adopted by the Uniform Trial Court Rules (UTCR) Committee and approved by the Chief Justice of the Oregon Supreme Court can be downloaded in Zip, PDF, or Word format on the Oregon Judicial Department UTCR page. These include the following, which were revised in 2019:

Request to Segregate Protected Personal Information
Request to Inspect UTCR 2.100 Segregated Information Sheet
Request to Redact Protected Personal Information from Existing Case
Motion for an Expedited Civil Jury Case Designation
Order Designating an Expedited Civil Jury Case
Request for Hearing re: Statutory Restraining Order

All Rights Reserved 2020 Beverly Michaelis

For the latest out-of-cycle UTCR amendments – effective November 2019 and January 2020, visit the Current Rules page on the OJD website.

US District Court Countdown to NextGen

Do you practice in the US District Court for the District of Oregon? Are you ready for NextGen – the new version of Case Management/Electronic Case Files (CM/ECF)? If not, act now because time is running out. Here are the pertinent timelines and to-dos.

Effective date for NextGen

Tuesday, January 21, 2020.

When CM/ECF will be Offline

From 3:00 p.m. on Friday, January 17, 2020 through 8:00 a.m. on Tuesday, January 21, 2020. During this time, notices of electronic filing will not be issued.

Court-Imposed Deadlines 

Court-imposed deadlines falling on Friday, January 17, 2020 are extended to 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday, January 21, 2020. Standing Order 2019-13.

Time-Sensitive Filings Must be Submitted by Email

The Clerk’s Office will accept via email time-sensitive filings, such as filings nearing statute of limitations deadlines, requests for emergency injunctive relief, and notices of appeal.

Counsel or self-represented parties who are concerned about whether a filing must be submitted to the Clerk to ensure its timeliness should also submit the filing by email during the period when CM/ECF is unavailable.

Documents must be submitted to filings@ord.uscourts.gov and will be deemed filed as of the date received. Any documents submitted via email during this time will be entered on the docket by the Clerk’s Office as soon as practical after CM/ECF is operational. Standing Order 2019-13.

Upgrade Your PACER Account Now

Attorneys will NOT be able to log in and file with their current CM/ECF user names and passwords after January 21, 2020. To avoid any interruption in filing:

Note: Attorneys are required to have individual, upgraded PACER Accounts. Shared accounts may not be used.

All Rights Reserved 2020 Beverly Michaelis