Central Oregon Irrigation District (COID) is a participating PERS employer. On September 27, 2013, COID filed a Motion To Intervene in the SB 822 litigation. It also filed motions to disqualify the Oregon Supreme Court justices and the special master appointed by the Supreme Court from participating in the SB 822 case. The Motions To Disqualify are based on the fact that all of the Supreme Court justices and the special master are PERS members and as PERS members they have a financial stake in the litigation. COID believes that it is fundamentally unfair that the SB 822 litigation be decided by judges who stand to lose money if SB 822 is upheld.
COID took this action to protect the right of COID members to have the SB 822 litigation determined by impartial judges. If SB 822 is not upheld by the Supreme Court, the district members will pay more for PERS costs and will most likely suffer a reduction in the services that COID currently provides.
Oregon law allows for the appointment of temporary judges to decide cases in situations like this. The SB 822 litigation is too important to COID’s members to allow the case to be decided by judges with a financial conflict of interest.
While COID’s actions are intended only for the benefit of its members, those actions will also affect the right of every Oregonian to have PERS lawsuits decided by impartial judges. The right to impartial judges is one of our most fundamental safeguards against governmental abuse.
If you believe that our right to impartial judges must be protected, this case is important to you. Let your legislators know how you feel about it and demand that our right to impartial judges in PERS be restored.
Remember that we had impartial judges for PERS cases during the first thirty-eight years that PERS existed. It was only after legislators were allowed to join PERS in 1971 and after those PERS legislators spent the next twelve years substantially enhancing PERS benefits that they forced Oregon’s judges into PERS, effective January 1, 1984. And it was only after judges became PERS members that they ruled that PERS benefits were a contract. A contract that those same judges immediately became beneficiaries of and from which they have or will receive thousands of dollars in PERS benefits that the people of Oregon are forced to pay for. That’s not fair. It’s not justice. It’s injustice.