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Moro v. State of Oregon

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: 01-16-2014
Case #: S061452
Balmer, C.J. for the Court; Kistler, J; Walters, J; Linder, J; Brewer, J; and Baldwin,J.
Full Text Opinion: http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/docs/S061452.pdf

Constitutional Law: Based on the rule of necessity, a judge may participate in decision making pertaining to the Public Employee Retirement System (PERS) despite having a substantial economic interest therein.

This was a consolidated hearing based on constitutional challenges to two Senate bills passed during the 2013 Legislative Assembly that affected the retirement benefits of public employees via changes to the PERS system. The issues before the Court included: (1) whether active judges may participate in deciding the constitutional challenges despite being persons of economic interest in the outcome; and (2) whether the participating of active judges in the decision making process on this issue would result in a violation of the Judicial Code of Conduct. In both instances, the panel utilized the rule of necessity (that where the only qualified judges to hear a case have the same normally disqualifying economic interest, that interest does not serve to disqualify in the specific instance at issue) to conclude that the need for judges pro tempore is moot and that presently sitting judges may decide the case without fear of conflict of interest or other violation of the Judicial Code of Conduct. Intervenor Central Oregon Irrigation District's motions to disqualify the members of this court and the Special Master are denied.