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State v. Babson

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: 04-11-2012
Case #: A144037
Schuman, P.J. for the Court; Wollheim, J.; and Nakamoto, J.
Full Text Opinion: http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/Publications/A144037.pdf

Constitutional Law: Article IV, section 9 of the Oregon Constitution does not protect co-chairs sitting in a legislative committee from being brought before a court for questioning, so long as it limited to their capacity in enforcement (as opposed to enactment) of legislation.

Defendants were arrested on the steps of the state capitol while conducting a protest of the deployment of Oregon National Guard in Iraq and Afghanistan. They were in violation of a rule that forbade being on the capitol steps between 11:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m., and were subsequently convicted of second-degree criminal trespass. The Defendants appealed their conviction, arguing that the rule was not properly promulgated and that, if it was, it violated their rights of free expression and assembly under the Oregon Constitution. The Court explained that Article IV, sec. 17 of the Constitution gives the legislature the authority to choose how to determine the rules governing access to the capitol, and were properly promulgated within the scope of that article. Next, the Court explained that the rule might be invalid as applied if the intent of enforcing it was to infringe Defendants' free expression right, but that the trial court erred in excluding testimony relevant to that determination. Specifically, the Court construed, for the first time, Article IV, section 9 of the Oregon Constitution and found that, because the legislators were not in debate, they could be questioned. Reversed and remanded.