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Do Oregon circuit court judges have the power to review the decisions of other circuit court judges?


Oregonian v. The Honorable Nan G. Waller and State Of Oregon

(Filed October 24, 2012 (Multnomah County Circuit Court 091116280, Court of Appeals A148488))


This case comes before us in a unique procedural posture. In a juvenile dependency case that is entirely separate from the case at hand, defendant Waller, the Presiding Family Court Judge of the Multnomah County Circuit Court, denied the request of plaintiff The Oregonian for access to a shelter care order that the judge had made in that case. Plaintiff asserted that the order was subject to public disclosure under the Oregon Public Records Law, ORS 192.410 to 192.505, and Article I, section 10, of the Oregon Constitution. After defendant Waller denied plaintiff’s request in the juvenile dependency case, plaintiff initiated this action in the Multnomah County Circuit Court, naming Waller as a defendant, and asserting claims under the Oregon Public Records Law and the Declaratory Judgments Act, ORS 28.010 to 28.160. In its complaint, ….


On its merits, this suite of appeals and cross-appeals presents several issues of statutory construction and Oregon constitutional law. However, because we conclude that the trial court lacked authority to enter the general judgment in this case, we do not reach the merits of those issues. As explained below, neither the Declaratory Judgments Act nor the Oregon Public Records Law authorizes review by one circuit court judge– that is, the trial court judge in this case–of the decision of another circuit court judge– that is, the juvenile court judge who is the defendant in this case–to deny public release of a court order in a pending case under the latter court’s jurisdiction. To explain why, we begin by examining the statutes that inform our analysis….


On Waller’s appeal, reversed and remanded with instructions to dismiss this action.
Oregonian Publishing Company’s appeal and State of Oregon’s cross-appeal dismissed as
moot.” [Link to full opinion or to OJD Court of Appeals Opinions webpage.]

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