HB 2451 has been introduced into the 2013 Oregon Legislature. This bill, if passed, will insure to all Oregonians the right to an impartial judge in every court proceeding, unless it is absolutely impossible to find an impartial judge. Currently, according to Oregon court decisions, it is possible for the Oregon Legislature to deprive certain groups of the right to impartial judges for specific types of cases.
Generally, the US Constitution, the Oregon Constitution, Oregon statutes and the Oregon Code of Judicial Conduct require lawsuits to be decided by impartial judges. The only exception to these rules is if it is impossible to find an impartial judge for the case. In that situation, the Rule of Necessity requires judges with a conflict of interest decide the case because it would otherwise be impossible for the case to be decided.
For example, the Rule of Necessity would apply to a case involving income taxes. Since everyone is subject to the income tax laws, it is impossible to find a person who could act as a judge who did not have that conflict. But that is not the case in other situations. A good example is PERS. While all elected Oregon judges are PERS members, there are many temporary judges who are not PERS members who could decide PERS cases and there are over 11,000 Oregon attorneys who could also be appointed as temporary judges to decide PERS case. But the Oregon courts have insisted that only judges who are PERS members can decide PERS cases.
It is possible to have PERS cases decided by judges who are not PERS members. HB 2451 will insure that happens. The right to impartial judges is too important to allow it to be taken away in any situation. If that can be done for PERS cases, it can be done for other cases. If you support HB 2451, contact your legislators and ask them to become familiar with HB 2451 and ask them if they support fair trials for all Oregonians. If they do, they must support HB 2451.
To see HB 2451, go to this site: http://www.leg.state.or.us/13reg/measpdf/hb2400.dir/hb2451.intro.pdf.
If HB 2451 becomes law, all Oregonians win. The only loser would be injustice.