Lehman v. Bradbury

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Lehman v. Bradbury is a lawsuit filed by two former Oregon state legislators (Mike Lehman and Bill Markham), and two voters (Ronald Culbertson and Giles Parker), in Marion County Circuit Court, Oregon. The lawsuit challenged the validity of Oregon Ballot Measure 3 (1992), also known as the Term Limits Initiative. The defendant in the case was Bill Bradbury, in his official position as Oregon Secretary of State. Frank Eizenzimmer, Oregonians for Fair Term Limits and U.S. Term Limits joined the case as intervening appellants.

The plaintiffs prevailed, both at the circuit court level and again, when that verdict was appealed, in the Oregon Supreme Court.

Legal basis for ruling

The plaintiffs argued, and the court agreed, that the Term Limits Initiative violated the state's single-subject rule, on the grounds that it contained two or more constitutional amendments that should have been voted on separately under Article XVII, section 1, of the Oregon Constitution. The circuit court entered summary judgment for plaintiffs and declared Measure 3 "null, void, and unenforceable."

The case was appealed, and the state's highest court upheld the lower court ruling.


Lehman and Markham filed declarations of candidacy for the office of State Representative for the 2003 legislative session, but the defendant in this case, Bill Bradbury acting in his role as Secretary of State, rejected those declarations, because each representative already had served the maximum term that he was permitted to serve under Measure 3.

Lawsuit seeking reimbursement of legal fees

After their successful lawsuit, the four plaintiffs filed an additional lawsuit seeking an award of the attorney's fees they sustained to bring their lawsuit in the amount of $35,532. In this lawsuit seeking fees, the plaintiffs asked for fees from both the defendant (Bill Bradbury in his position as Oregon Secretary of State) and from the intervening appellansts--U.S. Term Limits, Frank Eizenzimmer and Oregonians for Fair Term Limits. The Oregon Supreme Court awarded attorney's fees to the plaintiffs from the defendant, but not from the intervening appellants.

The reasoning the court pursued in not awarding the requested fees from the intervening appellants was, "Intervenors should not be required to pay: They are not a separate group that benefits from plaintiffs' success. There being no benefit to them, apart from the benefit that they receive equally with all Oregonians -- a benefit they would prefer to have done without, it would not be equitable to require them to pay attorney fees. We therefore sustain their objection to plaintiffs' petition."

Defendant Bill Bradbury did not respond or file a brief in response to the lawsuit, which is one reason the court mentioned in awarding fees from the defendant to the plaintiffs.

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