Willamette Law Online

Oregon Court of Appeals


Oregonian Publishing Co., LLC v. Waller

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: 10-24-2012
Case #: A148488
Brewer, J. for the Court; Armstrong, P.J.; and Duncan, J.
Full Text Opinion: http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/docs/A148488.pdf

Civil Procedure: Seeking declaratory relief in Circuit Court, under Oregon Public Records Law, challenging a Judge's refusal to publicly release a juvenile court order, is not a substitute for judicially appealing the Judge's determination not to release the order.

Judge Waller appealed the trial court's decision granting declaratory relief and attorneys' fees to the Oregon Publishing Co. The Oregon Publishing Co. sought relief against Judge Waller after he refused to release an order made in a separate juvenile dependency case in Circuit Court. Oregon Publishing Co. argued that Oregon Public Records Law, ORS 28.010-28.160, required the release of the Juvenile Court order. Judge Waller argued that ORS 419A.255 prevented the release of such juvenile court orders and that the Circuit Court lacked jurisdiction over a decision made in another Circuit Court matter. The Court of Appeals held, that the Circuit Court did not have jurisdiction to hear the issues. The Court reasoned that the case presented a constitutional question of ORS 419A.255, under the Oregon Constitution, and not a question of inappropriate application by Judge Waller. The Court also reasoned that Oregon Publishing Co. was not entitled to declaratory relief, or attorneys’ fees because suit for declaratory relief, against the Judge who made an order, is not a substitute for filing an appeal. The Court further opined that the proper course of action, by Oregon Publishing Co. was to appeal Judge Weller's refusal to release the order. Reversed and remanded with instructions to dismiss this action.