Couey v. Atkins

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Supreme Court
  • Area(s) of Law: Constitutional Law
  • Date Filed: 07-16-2015
  • Case #: SC S061650
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Landau, J. for the Court; En Banc,
  • Full Text Opinion

ORS 14.175 allows for moot cases to be deemed justiciable if the plaintiff meets all three necessary elements as defined within the statute. The statute was within the power of the legislature to pass because it did not go beyond the constitutional limitations placed on them in determining the justiciability of cases.

Plaintiff was registered as a signature collector for pay and also volunteered as a signature collector for other petitions. ORS 250.048(9) states that a person who is registered with the Secretary of State to collect initiative petition signatures for pay may not also collect signatures for a petition for which the individual is not being paid. Plaintiff challenged the constitutionality of this statute. During the trial, however, plaintiff stopped collecting signatures for pay and the defense claimed that his action was therefore rendered moot. Plaintiff stated that this was a case that was likely to evade review under ORS 14.175 and should therefore not be rendered moot. Both the trial and appellate courts dismissed the case as moot. The Court determined that the lower courts were correct in ruling that the plaintiff’s affidavit did not sufficiently prove that his action is not moot because the facts showed that at the time of the summary judgment motion there was no actual controversy. However, the Court also ruled that the action is likely to evade judicial review as defined by ORS 14.175 because it is probable that a similar challenge could evade review in the future based on election timeframes. Finally, the Court held that their justifiability analysis in Yancy is overruled in favor of that in Kellas, that cases of public interest such as this are justiciable under ORS. 14.175, and that the statute was within the power of the legislature to pass because it was not otherwise forbade by the Oregon State Constitution. Reversed and remanded.

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