Judge's Corner

Article Index

Judicial Challenges The Honorable Janet Stauffer, 7th Judicial Circuit (August/September 2017)

Use of Fictitious Names for Parties in Civil Litigation in Oregon The Honorable James Hargreaves (Senior Judge, retired), Lane County Circuit Court (June/July 2017)

The Judge's Pledge The Honorable Susan Tripp, Marion County Circuit Court (May/June 2017)

Organizing for the Courtroom The Honorable Daniel R. Murphy, Linn County Circuit Court (March/April 2017)

A Two Year Journey with Odyssey in Juvenile Court The Honorable Lindsay Partridge, Marion County Circuit Court (January/February 2017)

Lane County Streamlined Jury Trial Project The Honorable Curtis Conover, Lane County Circuit Court (November/December 2016)

20 Ways to Further Justice The Honorable Ilisa Rooke-Ley, Lane County Circuit Court (October/November 2016)

Managing Multi-Party/Complex Litigation without Driving Your Judge Crazy (and maybe even making it easier for everyone) The Honorable Henry Kantor, Multnomah County Circuit Court (September 2016)

Managing Multi-Party/Complex Litigation without Driving the Judge's Staff Crazy The Honorable Eve L. Miller, Clackamas County Circuit Court (August 2016)

Do's and Don'ts in the Courtroom The Honorable Lisa Greif, Jackson County Circuit Court (June/July 2016)

Preparation for a Status, Case Management, or Pretrial conference - or how to get more out of a non-evidentiary proceeding in criminal and family court cases The Honorable Kirsten E. Thompson, Washington County Circuit Court (April/May 2016)

Postponements The Honorable Richard Barron, Presiding Judge, Coos/Curry County Circuit Court (March 2016)

Consider Trying More Cases The Honorable Suzanne Chanti, Lane County Circuit Court Judge (February 2016)

Professionalism - It Counts Both In and Out of the Courtroom The Honorable Brian Dretke, Union County Circuit Court Judge (January 2016)

Changes to Sex Changes The Honorable Beth A. Allen, Multnomah County Circuit Court Judge (December 2015)

Top 25 Tips from a Senior Judge The Honorable Michael C. Sullivan, Senior Judge (retired), Deschutes County (November 2015)

How to Succeed at Power Point In the Courtroom The Honorable Michael McShane, US District Court (October 2015)

Effective Use of Evidence At Jury Trial The Honorable Matthew Donohue, Benton County Circuit Court (September 2015)

Making a Record for Appeal, The Honorable Charles M. Zennaché, Lane County Circuit Court (August 2015)

Access to Civil Justice in Oregon's State Courts, The Honorable David Brewer, Associate Justice, Oregon Supreme Court (July 2016)

What Jurors Want: A Look Into the Minds of Jurors, The Honorable John V. Acosta, United States Magistrate Judge (June 2015)

Handling the "Half-se" Hearing, The Honorable Mustafa Kasubhai, Lane County Circuit Court (May 2015)

Effective Voir Dire, Judge Thomas Hart, Marion County Circuit Court (April 2015)

The New Judge on the Block, Judge Lung S. Hung, Malheur County Circuit Court (March 2015)

The Gift of Finality: One PJ's Perspective, Judge Karsten H. Rasmussen, Lane County Circuit Court (February 2015)

ORCP 68 Attorney Fees - when, why and how to seek them, Judge Deanne L. Darling, Clackamas Juvenile Court (January 2015)

Difficult questions must be answered before they are asked, Judge Edward J. Jones, Multnomah County Circuit Court (December 2014)

Judicially Hosted Settlement Conferences, Judge Jamese L. Rhoades and Sr. Judge Don Dickey, Marion County Circuit Court (November 2014)

Working together to make discovery more efficient, The Honorable Youlee Yim You, Multnomah County Circuit Court (October 2014)

Court Trials - A Jury of One, The Honorable Katherine E. Tennyson, Multnomah County Circuit Court (September 2014)

Making the Most of Short Evidentiary Hearings, The Honorable Daniel R. Murphy, Linn County Circuit Court (August 2014)

Vouching, The Honorable Jay McAlpin, Lane County Circuit Court (July 2014)

Appropriate Jury Instructions Can Help Litigators Win Trials, The Honorable Paula Brownhill, Clatsop County Circuit Court (June 2014)

Evidentiary Hearings and Motion Practice in the era of Oregon e-court, The Honorable Benjamin Bloom, Jackson County Circuit Court (May 2014)

Motions in Limine - Tips for "Newer" Litigators, The Honorable Jodie Mooney, Lane County Circuit Court (April 2014)

The Honorable Curtis Conover
Lane County Circuit Court
(November/December 2016)

Lane County Streamlined Jury Trial Project

In 2010, Chief Justice De Muniz adopted UTCR 5.150 authorizing "expedited civil jury cases." The rule allows attorneys to designate a case as an "expedited case" which will streamline discovery and motions practice, exempt the case from arbitration and mediation requirements and provide a trial date within four months of the designation. The proponents of the rule anticipated that by using this expedited process, parties could resolve their cases quicker and with less cost.

Presently, however, this program is underutilized. Or perhaps more honestly stated, almost never utilized. In order to encourage the use of streamlined jury trials and respond to the widespread perception of the decline of civil jury trials in Oregon (previously discussed in this and other publications) the Lane County Circuit Court has implemented a streamlined civil jury trial pilot program. The Lane County Streamlined Jury Trial Project seeks to raise awareness of the civil jury trial and, where appropriate, facilitate agreement for streamlined discovery and jury trial procedure.

The purpose of this note is to inform readers of this program and its requirements. Even if you rarely practice in Lane County, several significant provisions deserve particular attention, such as: mandatory inclusion of eligible cases (with the ability to opt-out) and an initial case management conference held shortly after the case is deemed "at-issue." Other judicial districts have been encouraged to adopt streamlined trial procedures and Jackson County has already implemented a similar program. It is critical for practitioners involved with an eligible case refer to the OJD websites to become familiar with each county's specific procedures.

Even if your practice does not include eligible cases, litigators in Oregon should be aware of these programs which may benefit clients with relatively small claims and a need for an efficient and cost-effective resolution--as well as the incidental benefit of allowing new (and not-so-new) lawyers a means to gain jury trial experience.

Lane County's pilot program is currently authorized by a General Order of the Presiding Judge, pending adoption of a supplemental local rule. The program includes civil cases which seek recovery of monetary damages of $100,000 or less and excludes debt collections, foreclosures, domestic relations and cases where a party is unrepresented. Cases which meet the criteria for the Streamlined Jury Trial Project are automatically included in the program and exempt from mandatory mediation and arbitration. The filing party must place in the caption of a pleading (including a claim, counterclaim, cross claim, and third-party claim): "SUBJECT TO STREAMLINED JURY TRIAL PROJECT".

A party may opt out of the Streamlined Trial Project only by filing and serving a timely notice of removal. Removal is automatic subject to the following:

(i) A plaintiff must file the notice within thirty (30) days of the filing of the action or, if a counterclaim is asserted, within fourteen (14) days of the filing of the counterclaim.

(ii) A defendant or third party defendant must file the notice with that party's first appearance.

(iii) A party must state the reason for removal in the notice.

(iv) A party may file a motion to remove the case from the SJTP for good cause shown related to a new development that could not have been previously identified.

For each case in the Streamlined Trial Project, the court will set a trial date as provided by UTCR 7.020. Within four weeks of the court issuing the Ready for Trial Notice, each party must provide to all other parties the discovery as required in UTCR 5.150 (4)(a). In addition, no party shall: Take more than four hours of deposition; Serve more than one set of requests for production; Serve more than one set of requests for admission; and File a pretrial motion, including a motion for summary judgment, absent prior leave of the court.

Six weeks after the ready for trial notice is issued, the court will schedule a case management conference with the attorneys. This will be the only pretrial conference required by the court, although the parties may request further conferences with a judge at any time to address discovery or evidentiary issues. At the case management conference, the judge will facilitate the parties' agreement for streamlined procedures for discovery and trial, including a six or eight-person jury. The conference will also allow the parties to make a discovery schedule if appropriate and, if requested, set an earlier trial date. The underlying purpose of this conference is to provide the parties with the flexibility to achieve an efficient resolution of their case.

Since the implementation in July, 44 cases have been assigned to the program. Several of these cases are currently scheduled for the initial case management conference later this month. No party has yet opted out of the program. Late next year our court will evaluate the effectiveness of this pilot program and consider whether the program should continue. Thus far, both plaintiffs' and defense attorneys have expressed optimism with this program. We are therefore encouraged that the program can provide the means for litigants to achieve an efficient resolution of their case and for attorneys to develop jury trial experience. Please refer to the Lane County website at http://courts.oregon.gov/Lane/Pages/index.aspx for the complete rule.

 

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