Difference between revisions of "Oregon Supreme Court"

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{{law}}{{TOCnestright}}The '''Oregon Supreme Court''' is the highest state court in [[Oregon]]. The only court that may reverse or modify a decision of the Oregon Supreme Court is the Supreme Court of the United States. The OSC holds court at the Supreme Court building in Salem, Oregon near the capitol building on State Street. Justices of the court serve six year terms upon election; however, vacancies are filled by appointments of the [[Governor] of Oregon]] until the next general election when any qualified candidate may run for the position including the appointee.
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#REDIRECT [[Judgepedia:Oregon Supreme Court]]
 
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Tracing its beginnings back to 1841 when Oregon pioneers selected a supreme judge with probate powers, the court has grown from a single judge to its current make up of seven justices. These seven justices then select one member to serve a six-year term as Chief Justice. The court’s Chief Justice is not only responsible for assigning cases to the other justices to write the court’s opinions, but is also the chief executive of the Oregon Judicial Department. Primarily an appeals court, it is also the court of last resort in Oregon. Although most oral arguments before the court are held in the Oregon Supreme Court Building (built in 1914), the court does travel around the state holding sessions in various schools.
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== Rulings on ballot measures ==
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===2009===
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* In a [[ballot title]] dispute, the court made some changes to the two ballot titles relevant to the [[Oregon Tax Hike Vote, Ballot Measures 66 and 67 (2010)]].
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* In ''[[Pendleton School District v. State of Oregon]]'', the court ruled that when the state's voters passed [[Oregon Ballot Measure 1 (2000)|Measure 1 in 2000]], they did not intend for the court to enforce its funding levels.<ref>[http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/S056096.htm Text of ''Pendleton v. State of Oregon'']</ref>
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===2002===
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The court invalidated [[Oregon Ballot Measure 7 (2000)|Measure 7]].  Measure 7 was approved by the state's voters in 2000.  The court's reasoning is that Measure 7 violated the state's [[single-subject rule]].  The successful plaintiff was the [[League of Oregon Cities]] and the case was titled, ''[[League of Oregon Cities v. Bradbury]].
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===1998===
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The court invalidated [[Oregon Ballot Measure 40 (1996)|Measure 40, 1996]] on the grounds that 40 violated the state's [[single-subject rule]].<ref>[http://www.iandrinstitute.org/New%20IRI%20Website%20Info/I&R%20Research%20and%20History/I&R%20Legal%20History/I&R%20and%20the%20Courts/Major%20Court%20Decisions/Armatta%20v.%20Kitzhaber/Decision.pdf Text of ''Armatta v. Kitzhaber'']</ref>
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===1994===
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The court invalidated [[Oregon Ballot Measure 8 (1994)|Measure 8]], which had been approved by the state's voters and put a cap on the state's liabilities with regard to the PERS (Public Employee Retirement System) system.
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==Claim that court is anti-initiative==
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Research Greg Wasson claims that the Oregon Supreme Court since 1913 had acted in a way that undermines the initiative process.<ref>[http://ezinearticles.com/?id=781384 ''The Oregon Supreme Court Leads a Multistate, and, Enduring, Attack on the Initiative'']</ref>
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==Selection==
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The court is composed of seven elected justices, each of whom serves a six-year term after winning a nonpartisan election. Justices, like other Oregon state court judges, must be United States citizens, Oregon residents for at least three years, and lawyers admitted to practice in the state of Oregon. The newest justice receives the smallest office (nicknamed “the broom closet”) and is responsible for opening the door when a conference is interrupted. Suo, Steve. Oregon Supreme Court is robed in tradition-bound world of its own. ''The Oregonian'', December 3, 1995. When a state court judge retires, resigns, or dies before completing a term, the Governor may appoint another qualified person to the position. To retain that position, the appointed person must run for election for a full six-year term at the next general election. On occasion, a judge will leave office at the end of a term, in which case a general election determines their replacement. If the Supreme Court needs an additional judge on a temporary basis due to illness, an unfilled position, or a justice is disqualified from sitting on a case due to a conflict of interest, the court can appoint a senior judge to serve as a judge pro tempore. Senior judges are all former, qualified judges (a minimum of 12 years on the bench) that have retired from a state court. Only former Supreme Court justices, elected circuit court judges, or elected Court of Appeals judges can be assigned to temporary service on the Supreme Court.
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==Administrative==
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The court can appoint retired judges, lawyers, and other judges to serve temporarily as judges at any level in Oregon. They can also appoint senior judges to serve on any state court at or below the highest level of court that judge had served on before retirement or resignation. The state supreme court is responsible for admitting new lawyers to practice in Oregon, disciplining attorneys, and appointing members to the Board of Bar Examiners. This board of a minimum of fourteen members is responsible for administering the bar exam and screening prospective lawyers before admitting applicants to practice law in Oregon. Oversight of state judges is also in the hands of the Supreme Court. The Commission on Judicial Fitness and Disability investigates all reports of abuses and makes recommendations to the Supreme Court on any actions that may need to occur. The Supreme Court can then suspend judges, censure them, remove them from office, or take no action.
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===Chief Justice===
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One justice of the court is elected by the court to serve a six-year term as Chief Justice. The Chief Justice is then responsible for all administration of the Supreme Court. Under a law enacted in 1981 the chief is not only the titular head of the Supreme Court, but also is the chief executive officer of the Oregon Judicial Department. In that role the Chief Justice supervises all of the Oregon courts, appoints the Chief Judge of the Oregon Court of Appeals, assigns presiding judges for the trial level state courts, makes court rules, and is in charge of the department’s budget. As administrator the chief is also the recipient of many reports from the court system including non-legal employees of the department. The first Chief Justice of the Oregon Supreme Court was William P. Bryant, while the longest serving chief was Wallace P. Carson, Jr. who held the position for 15 years.
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===Oregon Reports===
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Beginning in 1853, the official court reporter for the publication of all Supreme Court decisions is the Oregon Reports. These bound editions are published under the auspices of the Oregon Supreme Court per ORS 2.150. The first reported opinion was ''Thompson v. Backenstos'', involving trespass. In the case Justice George Henry Williams wrote the opinion, Justice Thomas Nelson had served as the judge at the trial level due to circuit riding, while future justice Reuben P. Boise served as counsel for the defense, and fellow future justice Aaron E. Waite provided counsel for the plaintiff.
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==Powers & jurisdiction==
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The powers of the OSC derive from the Oregon Constitution’s Article VII. Like other supreme courts in the United States, the Oregon Supreme Court acts primarily as a court of appeals. They choose cases that are of legal significance or to unify lower court decisions. In this aspect the court has discretionary review over many of the cases appealed to the high court. Discretionary review allows the court to choose which cases it will hear on appeal. With those cases that are denied an appeal to the Supreme Court, the decision of the lower court becomes final and binding. As of 1995 the court only accepted one in eight appeals that were discretionary. The justices meet once per week in a formal conference in which only the justices are involved to determine rulings.
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The court also reviews death penalty cases, state tax court appeals, and items regarding legal disciplinary on direct review. Direct review means that the Supreme Court hears cases directly upon appeal without the case first going to the Court of Appeals. Other direct review items include state agency decisions such as the placement of prisons, placement of energy production facilities, locations of sites for solid waste disposal, and some labor law injunctions. Additionally, the court has original jurisdiction in, writs of mandamus, writs quo warranto, writs of habeas corpus, reapportionment of state legislative districts, and challenges to [[ballot measure|ballot measures]] such as their titles, the fiscal impact statement, and the explanatory statement as listed in the Voter’s Pamphlet.
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Oregon’s state courts are courts of general jurisdiction in that unlike federal courts they can hear all cases regardless to whether the dispute is based on either state or federal law, with a few exceptions. Rowe, Thomas D., Suzanna Sherry, and Jay Tidmarsh. Civil Procedure. Foundation Press, NY: 2004. Thus the Oregon Supreme Court can hear appeals for cases based on both federal and state law. Although the U.S. Supreme Court is the only court that can overturn decisions of the Oregon court, Oregon Supreme Court decisions as to federal law are only binding on other Oregon state level courts. Federal courts are not required to follow the decisions of the Oregon Supreme Court for decisions based on federal law, regardless as to if the federal court is located within the state. However, federal courts are bound to follow Oregon law and decisions of the Oregon Supreme Court for cases that involve disputes based on Oregon law even when those federal courts are not based in Oregon based on the Erie Doctrine. For this reason federal courts, and courts from other states, can certify questions about Oregon law to the Oregon Supreme Court in order to clarify what the law in Oregon is in regards to the specific fact pattern that the federal court has before it in their case. 
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Although only the United States Supreme Court can overturn the decisions of the Oregon Supreme Court, they cannot overturn every decision and other mechanisms exist that effectively overturn decisions of the Oregon Supreme Court. The U.S. Supreme Court can only accept cases from the Oregon Supreme Court if the decision involves issues of federal law and interpretation of federal law might change the outcome of the case. Although only the U.S. Supreme Court can reverse or overturn decisions of the Oregon Supreme Court, decisions of the court can be effectively overturned by changing the law. Thus later outcomes can be affected by legislation passed by the Oregon Legislative Assembly or through the initiative and referendum process. Also, in most criminal decisions Oregon’s Governor or the President of the United States may issue a pardon (some crimes require the Oregon Legislature to concur).
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==History==
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The Oregon Supreme Court traces its roots back to the early settlement period of Oregon Country. In 1841 pioneer Ewing Young died without an heir or will in the unorganized lands of what are now the states of [[Idaho]], [[Washington]], and Oregon.
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In February of that year settlers met at Champoeg to discuss the creation of a government, including a judiciary to deal with the execution of Young’s estate. Although the overall government plans fell through, the group of pioneers and mountain men did elect a supreme judge to exercise probate powers. The first judge was Dr. Ira L. Babcock, serving from Feb. 18, 1841-May 1, 1843. Other judges were appointed and elected during the pre-territory period over the next seven years. In 1848, when the Oregon Territory was created by the United States Congress, William P. Bryant  was appointed as the first judge of the Oregon Supreme Court. Justices in the territorial period were appointed by the President of the United States.
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In those early days of the court, the justices would ride circuit” in addition to their appellate court functions. Riding circuit involved acting as appeals court judges around the state in addition to the supreme court functions of ultimate appeal, a common practice in early American courts. Beginning with statehood in 1859, the court had just four justices, one for each judicial district in the state. Each justice was assigned one district, and then all justices would gather and set intervals to confer on appeals. On appeals, the justice who presided over the lower court case would not participate in the proceedings. Then in 1862 the court was expanded to five justices with the addition of a fifth judicial district. With the creation of a Court of Appeals and separate Supreme Court in 1878, riding circuit was abandoned and the Supreme Court reduced to three members. [[Governor]] Thayer then appointed James K. Kelly, Reuben P. Boise, and Paine Page Prim to the court as temporary justices until elections could be held.
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In 1906 the Oregon court upheld a maximum hour law for women in ''State v. Muller'', 48 Or. 252, 85 P. 855 (1906). Due partly to a brief by future U.S. Supreme Court justice Louis Brandeis, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Oregon law in ''Muller v. Oregon'', 208 U.S. 412 (1908) despite ruling in 1905 in ''Lochner v. New York'' that a maximum hour law for bakers was unconstitutional. Then in 1910, the state legislature expanded the court back to five justices, and lastly, in 1913 the court expanded to the current seven justices.
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The next important case came in 1935 when the state’s top court ruled in ''State v. De Jonge'', 152 Or. 315, 51 P.2d 674 (1935) that the 14th Amendment did not protect Communist Party organizers from prosecution under Oregon’s criminal syndicate law. However, the U.S. Supreme Court would over turn this decision in ''DeJonge v. Oregon'', 299 U.S. 353 (1937). Another important case came in 1960 as the Oregon court ruled against the United States government in ''State Land Board v. United States'', 222 Or. 40, 352 P.2d 539 (1960). In that case the court ruled that state estate laws trumped a federal statute concerning the property of U.S. Veterans who died at Veterans Administration hospitals without a valid will. The U.S. Supreme Court then overturned the Oregon Supreme Court’s decision in ''United States v. Oregon'', 366 U. S. 643 (1961).
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On the administrative end of the court, in 1981 the Oregon Legislature and justice Arno Denecke reformed the chief justice position from a simple head of the court in title only, to the administrative head of the entire Oregon judicial system. The following year, 1982, the court received its first female member when Governor Vic Atiyeh appointed Betty Roberts]as an associate justice. Then from 1991 to 2005 Wallace P. Carson, Jr. served as chief justice of the court for a record 14 years.
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The next landmark decision of the U.S. Supreme Court involving the Oregon Supreme Court was ''Dolan v. City of Tigard'', 512 U.S. 374 (1994). In that land use case the Oregon court found the requirements placed on the business owner as conditions to approve an expansion were not a taking under the United States Constitution’s takings clause. However, the U.S. Supreme Court disagreed and overturned the Oregon court. Then the Oregon court ruled in February of 2006 that Oregon’s land use law, [[Oregon Ballot Measure 37 (2004)|Measure 37]], was constitutional. ''MacPherson v. Department of Administrative Services'', 340 Or. 117, 130 P.3d 308 (2006) allowed people to make claims against the government forcing the government to either pay compensation when land use regulations reduced the value of a property owners land or waive the regulation.
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===Location===
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In the early years of the Supreme Court, business was conducted at a variety of locations in downtown Salem. The first public building to house the court was the Territorial Capitol Building in Salem that was built between 1854 and 1855. In that building the courtroom was in a chamber measuring 20 feet by 27 feet on the first floor. However, on December 29 1855 after the building was partially occupied, it burned to the ground. In 1876 the state finished construction on a second capitol building where the court was located on the third floor. This courtroom measured 54 feet by 46 feet, while the state law library was 75 feet by 70 feet. Then in 1914 a separate building was built by the state to house the Supreme Court, and this is now the oldest building on the Capitol Mall after the second capitol building burned down on April 25 1935.
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In addition to holding court in the Supreme Court Building's third floor courtroom, the court also travels around the state to hold sessions. This includes sessions and colleges, high schools, and the state’s three law schools. These three law schools, Willamette University College of Law, University of Oregon Law School, and Lewis & Clark Law School, use the visits as educational tools.
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==Notable former justices==
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*Justice Alfred Goodwin (1960-1969)
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*Justice [[Oregon Governor - Ted Kulongoski|Ted Kulongoski]] (1996-2001)
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*Justice Hans A. Linde (1977-1990)
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*Justice Wallace McCamant (1917-1918)
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*Justice Charles L. McNary (1913-1915)
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*Justice Betty Roberts (1982-1986)
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==Notable Supreme Court cases==
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*''Amos M. Short v. Francis Ermatinger'', (1851) (location of the capital of Oregon Territory, constitutional construction)
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*''McLaughlin v. Hoover'', 1 Or. 31 (1853) (assumpsit, statute of limitations, repugnancy)
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*''Danielson v. Roberts'', 44 Or. 108, 74 P. 913 (1904) (property law)
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*''State v. Bunting'', 71 Or. 259, 139 P. 731 (1914) (labor law)
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*''Jackson v. Steinberg'', 186 Or. 129, 200 P.2d 376 (1948) (property law)
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*''McCallum v. Asbury'', 238 Or. 257, 393 P.2d 774 (1964) (partnership)
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*''Goodman v. Ladd Estate Co.'', 246 Or. 621, 427 P.2d 102 (1967) (corporation, Ultra vires)
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*''Lowe v. City of Eugene]]'', 254 Or. 518, 463 P.2d 360 (1969) (1st Amendment, Skinner Butte)
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*''Petersen v. Thompson'', 264 Or. 516, 506 P.2d 697 (1973) (contract law)
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*''Ruble Forest Products, Inc. v. Lancer Mobile Homes of Oregon'', 269 Or. 315, 524 P.2d 1204 (1974) (contract law)
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*''Phillips v. Kimwood Machine Company'', 269 Or. 485, 525 P.2d 1033 (1974) (torts, product liability)
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*''Gustafson v. Payless'', 269 Or. 354, 525 P.2d 118 (1974) (torts, Malice)
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*''Southworth v. Oliver'', 284 Or. 361, 587 P.2d 994 (1978) (contract law)
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*''Fazzolari v. Portland School District No. 1J'', 303 Or. 1, 734 P.2d 1326 (1987) (torts: negligence)
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*''Smith v. Employment Div.'', 307 Or. 68, 763 P.2d 146 (1988) (employment law, constitutional law)
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*''Oregon v. Guzek'', 336 Or. 424, 86 P.3d 1106 (2004) (death penalty)
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*''MacPherson v. Department of Administrative Services'', 340 Or. 117, 130 P.3d 308 (2006) (land use, [[Oregon Ballot Measure 37 (2004)|measure 37]])
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*''Williams v. Philip Morris, Inc.'', 340 Or. 35, 127 P.3d 1165 (2006) (punitive damages, smoking)
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==External links==
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{{judgepedia}}
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*[http://www.ojd.state.or.us/aboutus/courtsintro/index.htm An Introduction to the Courts of Oregon]
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*[http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/supreme.htm Supreme Court Slip Opinions]
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*[http://www.leg.state.or.us/ors/orcpors.htm Oregon Rules of Civil Procedure]
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*[http://www.ojd.state.or.us/web/OJDPublications.nsf/Files/2007_ORAP_Online_Version.pdf/$File/2007_ORAP_Online_Version.pdf Oregon Rules of Appellate Procedur]
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*[http://www.ojd.state.or.us/web/OJDPublications.nsf/Files/CJC.pdf/$File/CJC.pdf Revised Oregon Code of Judicial Conduct]
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==References==
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{{reflist}}
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<hr>
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<small>''Portions of this article were adapted from [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oregon_Supreme_Court Wikipedia's article on the Oregon Supreme Court]''</small>
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[[Category:Oregon]]
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[[Category:State supreme courts]]
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Latest revision as of 11:08, 21 January 2014