Articles Posted in Oregon Supreme Court

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Defendant Steven Toth was the manager of a strip club in the Beaverton area. Victor Moreno-Hernandez brought S, a thirteen-year-old girl, to defendant’s strip club, where defendant and Moreno-Hernandez agreed that S would work at the club. While working at the strip club, S engaged in prostitution and the two men split the proceeds. In addition, defendant had sex with S. Ultimately, S was brought into the legal custody of the Department of Human Services (DHS). Defendant pleaded guilty to three counts relating to S: second-degree sodomy, first-degree sexual abuse, and compelling prostitution. He also pleaded guilty to a separate promoting prostitution charge that did not involve S. At sentencing, the trial court indicated that it was interested in imposing a compensatory fine and inquired into whether that was an available option in this case. The prosecutor stated that S's psychological counseling while in DHS custody resulted in economic damages; the trial court sentenced defendant to pay $150,000 as a compensatory fine for S's care. He appealed the imposition of the fine. The Court of Appeals reasoned that because “‘[t]he record contains no evidence that [the victim] ever incurred any objectively verifiable economic obligation for the treatment and, therefore, ever suffered any economic damages as a result of defendant’s crimes’” a remand was unnecessary. The Oregon Supreme Court concurred the trial court erred in imposing the compensatory fine, but concluded the matter was appropriate for remand to the trial court: "[w]e do not decide here whether a compensatory fine directed to DHS would be appropriate on this record, but it is an option for the trial court to consider on remand." View "Oregon v. Toth" on Justia Law

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In 2012, defendant Victor Moreno-Hernandez, an adult man, met S, a thirteen-year-old girl. S moved in with defendant, and he had sex with her multiple times. He also supplied her with methamphetamine. Defendant introduced S to his eventual codefendant, Steven Toth, the manager of a strip club. Defendant and Toth agreed to have S work in the strip club, where she performed nude for customers and engaged in sexual acts with Toth and some of the club’s customers. Toth was paid for those acts of prostitution, and he split the proceeds with defendant. S ultimately left defendant and came into the legal custody of the Department of Human Services (DHS). After an investigation by law enforcement, defendant was charged with multiple crimes relating to his rape and sexual abuse of S. Defendant was convicted of two counts of second-degree rape, two counts of second-degree sodomy, two counts of second-degree unlawful sexual penetration, two counts of first-degree sexual abuse, one count of unlawful delivery of methamphetamine to a minor, and four counts of compelling prostitution. The trial court indicated that it was interested in imposing compensatory fines, as allowed by ORS 137.101(1), on those three compelling prostitution convictions. The issue defendant’s appeal raised for the Oregon Supreme Court’s review centered on whether the trial court properly sentenced defendant to pay three $50,000 compensatory fines. The Court arrived at the same outcome as the Court of Appeals- that it was error to impose the fine. However, in the Supreme Court’s view, “the legal error and the uncertainty as to what the trial court would have done had it approached sentencing as ORS 137.101 intended are reasons to remand.” The matter was remanded for further proceedings. View "Oregon v. Moreno-Hernandez" on Justia Law

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Defendant Michael Sperou was charged with first-degree unlawful penetration for alleged crimes committed against a girl (“SC”) who belonged to the church defendant led as pastor. Before trial, the State disclosed it would call SC and six other women as witnesses, all whom would testify as to having been sexually abused by defendant years earlier while they were young girls attending his church. Defendant denied any abuse occurred, and moved to preclude the witnesses’ testimony. He also moved to prohibit the use of “victim” at trial to describe SC or the other accusers. The trial court denied both motions; defendant was convicted on all charges. On appeal to the Oregon Supreme Court, defendant argued the trial court erred in denying his motions. The Supreme Court concluded that while the trial court did not err in refusing to categorically prohibit the prosecutor from referring to SC as a “victim,” use of the term by the other accusers would amount to impermissible vouching, and the trial court should have granted defendant’s motion to preclude such references. The Supreme Court concluded the trial court’s error in that regard was not harmless, and required a remand. View "Oregon v. Sperou" on Justia Law

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Defendant Jorge Gutierrez-Medina was driving under the influence of intoxicants late at night when he struck another person who had walked onto the road in a dark area not marked for pedestrians. Defendant pled guilty to one count DUI, and one count of third-degree assault, but resisted the State’s request that he pay restitution for the victim’s full medical bills. Defendant urged the trial court to apply the civil doctrine of comparative fault to reduce the amount of restitution. The trial court refused defendant’s request and ordered him to pay the State’s requested restitution. The Oregon Supreme Court concurred with the outcome of the Court of Appeals’ review, only on different grounds. The Supreme Court concluded defendant’s conviction for third-degree assault established he was aware he was using a deadly or dangerous weapon in a manner that created a substantial risk of serious harm, and he consciously disregarded that risk. Therefore, defendant’s assault conviction established he acted with a culpable mental state for which comparative fault would not be available in a civil action. The Supreme Court also declined to address the Court of Appeals’ conclusion that ORS 137.106 precluded trial courts from reducing the amount of restitution when the victim was partly to blame for his injury. View "Oregon v. Gutierrez-Medina" on Justia Law

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Defendant Jemaell Riley was convicted of committing multiple crimes with two accomplices. His convictions for six of those counts depended almost entirely on the testimony of his accomplices, who had entered into a cooperation agreement with the state. Defendant contended that he was entitled to a judgment of acquittal on those counts, because the accomplice testimony had not been corroborated by “other evidence” as required by ORS 136.440(1). The Court of Appeals agreed with defendant and reversed his convictions on those counts. On review, the Oregon Supreme Court affirmed the Court of Appeals, and reversed those relevant portions of the circuit court’s judgment of conviction. The matter was remanded to the circuit court for further proceedings. View "Oregon v. Riley" on Justia Law

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In this post-conviction proceeding, petitioner Lydell White, a juvenile offender, was convicted along with his twin brother Laycelle for aggravated murder and murder. He contended on petition for post-conviction relief that the 800-month sentence he was serving for a single homicide was the functional equivalent of life without parole and was imposed without a hearing that satisfied the procedural and substantive requirements of the Eighth Amendment. The Oregon Supreme Court agreed, finding petitioner was not procedurally barred from seeking post-conviction relief, and that his sentence was subject to the protections of Miller v. Alabama, 567 US 460 (2012). “Because this record does not convince us that the sentencing court determined that petitioner’s crime reflects irreparable corruption, we reverse the decisions of the Court of Appeals and the post-conviction court and remand to the post-conviction court for further proceedings.” View "White v. Premo" on Justia Law

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Along with his twin brother, Lydell, petitioner Laycelle White was charged with and convicted of aggravated murder and murder, receiving a sentence of life with the possibility of parole for the murder of one victim and an 800-month determinate sentence for the murder of the other. At the time, petitioner was 15 years old. In a petition for post-conviction relief, petitioner argued the 800-month sentence for one murder was a de facto life sentence without parole that had to comport with the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Miller v. Alabama, 567 US 460 (2012). Petitioner argued the record in this case, decided 17 years before Miller, did not establish that the trial court made the required “irreparable corruption” finding and that his sentence therefore was invalid. The Oregon Supreme Court agreed with this reasoning and reversed the decisions of the Court of Appeals, and of the post-conviction court, and remanded to the post-conviction court for further proceedings. View "White v. Premo" on Justia Law

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The Oregon Supreme Court declined to answer certified questions posed by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. In consolidated cases, the Ninth Circuit certified three questions concerning how predicate Oregon convictions for first- and second-degree robbery should be treated for certain issues that arise under federal sentencing law. When the United States Supreme Court decided Stokeling v. United States, 586 US ___, 139 S Ct 544, 202 L Ed 3d 512 (2019), "it appears to have significantly altered the legal landscape about how predicate robbery offenses are treated for purposes of federal sentencing." The Ninth Circuit maintained that its precedent remained good law after Stokeling and that a question remained as to whether Oregon’s second-degree robbery statute was “divisible” and whether jury concurrence on particular elements of that statute was required. For several reasons, the Oregon Court concluded the questions that remained were not subject to review on certification. View "United States v. Lawrence/Ankeny" on Justia Law

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While defendant Yevgeniy Savinskiy was incarcerated and awaiting trial on pending criminal charges, law enforcement officers learned he solicited another inmate to harm the prosecutor and murder two of the anticipated witnesses for the prosecution. Without notifying the lawyer who was representing defendant on the pending charges, the officers arranged for the other inmate to secretly record defendant in a conversation about his new criminal activity, and the State later charged defendant with multiple new offenses arising out of that new criminal activity. The Court of Appeals held that the recorded questioning violated defendant’s Article I, section 11, right to counsel “[i] n all criminal prosecutions,” and precluded the State from using defendant’s incriminating statements to convict him of the new offenses. The Oregon Supreme Court disagreed: defendant’s Article I, section 11, right to counsel, which arose because of the initially pending charges, was not a right to limited police scrutiny of new criminal activity in which defendant was engaging to illegally undermine the pending charges. View "Oregon v. Savinskiy" on Justia Law

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Police officers discovered incriminating drug-related evidence in defendants Tracy Lien and Travis Wilverdin's garbage by having a sanitation company manager specially pick up defendants’ garbage bin on trash pick-up day, transport it to the sanitation company’s facilities, and turn it over to the officers, who then searched the bin. After the trial court denied their motions to suppress that evidence, defendants were convicted on drug-related charges. The Court of Appeals affirmed those convictions, concluding that, although defendants retained protected possessory and privacy interests in the garbage while their bin rested at the curb, the police did not violate their interests by taking possession of the bin and searching its contents, because defendants had lost their interests when the sanitation company picked up their garbage bin. After review, the Oregon Supreme Court held defendants retained protected privacy interests in their garbage under Article I, section 9 of the Oregon Constitution, which the police invaded when they searched defendants’ garbage bin without a warrant. Accordingly, the trial court erred by denying defendants’ motions to suppress evidence, and the Supreme Court reversed the decision of the Court of Appeals and the judgments of the circuit court, and remand for further proceedings before the circuit court. View "Oregon v. Lien" on Justia Law