On October 26, 2010, I filed a claim for refund of property taxes in the Oregon Tax Court. The claim for refund is based on the argument that Ballot Measure 8, which was adopted by the people of Oregon in 1994 and which prohibited public employers from picking up their employee’s PERS contributions, is still the law of Oregon.
In 1996, the Oregon Supreme Court, by a 4 to 3 vote, held that Ballot Measure 8 was unconstitutional. All seven of the court justices were PERS members but they said that it was impossible to appoint non-PERS judges to hear the case so they could do it, even thought they had a direct, financial stake in the outcome of the case. I am arguing that the court could have appointed non-PERS judges to hear it and therefore, the court’s decision is void and it never had any legal effect. It was DOA on the June 25, 1996, the day the decision was filed.
The first issue that will have to be decided is who will hear my case. I have filed motions in the tax court to disqualify all of the tax court judges because they are all in PERS. When the State tries to take our property, we have a federal constitutional right to have the case decided by an independent judge. The Oregon Supreme Court will have to make a decision regarding this question and if the justices find that it is impossible to appoint a non-PERS judge under existing Oregon law, then the law that put the Oregon judges into PERS in 1983 is unconstitutional. It looks like they are between a rock and a hard place, a very hard place.
Something should happen in this case by the first of December. I will continue to post updates.