Hill to Hall Oct. 7–11

Oct. 7: Supreme Court hears case on non-unanimous juries

The United States Supreme Court heard arguments on Louisiana v Ramos, a case which questions a state’s usage on non-unanimous juries. While the case originally stems from Louisiana, the state has since voted to prohibit non-unanimous juries, leaving Oregon as the only state that may be affected by the verdict.  In Oregon, juries may render a guilty verdict with 10-2 or 11-1 votes, except in murder cases. The Oregon District Attorneys Association supported a bill to bring the issue to voters in 2020 during the state’s last legislative session. However, the bill died after the Supreme Court agreed to hear the Louisiana case. 


Oct. 11: Oregon AG ordered to rewrite biased ballot measure title

Oregon’s Supreme Court ordered Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum to rewrite the title and explanation of a proposed ballot measure after supporters of the measure accused the writing of being biased. The measure would create new rules for public pension systems and “prohibit government employers from taking on any new pension debt, the Oregon Supreme Court ordered this week,” according to The Oregonian. In the proposed explanation—which the Justice Department is responsible for writing—the Supreme Court ruled both the “yes” and “no” answers were unhelpful and misleading to voters.


Oct. 11: Mayor Ted Wheeler to run for re-election in 2020

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler officially announced in a letter posted to his website he would run for re-election in 2020. If re-elected, Wheeler would become the first Portland mayor to serve for two terms since Vera Katz, who entered office in 1996 and served three terms until leaving office in 2005. No Portland mayor has chosen to run for a second term since 2005. 


Oct. 11: Owner of Portland jail prepares to demolish building 

Jordan Schnitzer, owner of Wapato Jail in North Portland, has announced plans to sign a contract by the end of the month to have the building demolished. The jail was built by Multnomah County in 2004, costing $58 million, and has been unused since. It was sold in 2017 and again in 2018 to its current owner, who planned to have the building turned into a homeless shelter. However, no politician or local non-profit stepped forward to definitively support the plan.