Criminal Justice

“[L]awyers in criminal courts are necessities, not luxuries. The right of one charged with crime to counsel may not be deemed fundamental and essential to fair trials in some countries, but it is in ours.”
-- Justice Hugo Black,
Gideon v. Wainwright, 1963

The rights guaranteed to individuals under suspicion, criminal defendants, and prisoners are fundamental rights that protect all Americans from governmental abuse of power. These rights include the guarantee against unreasonable search and seizure, the right to reasonable bail, the right against self incrimination, the right to counsel, the right to be acquitted unless the government can prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt, the right to a jury of one’s peers and the right to be free from cruel and unusual treatment.

These protections were included in our federal and state constitutions in order to protect innocent persons who may be wrongfully suspected or accused of a crime. The framers understood that it is more important for the government to follow the rule of law than it is to obtain a guilty verdict in every case.

Litigation

State v. Marquez-Marquez

ACLU Challenges Unfair Bail Forfeiture

July 13, 2009 - The ACLU is directly representing Maria Araujo as she seeks remission of a court order demanding that she pay her brother-in-law’s security deposit of $20,000. 

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Washburn v. Columbia Forest Products, Inc.

Oregon Supreme Court Narrows Definition of Disabled Worker

October 2006 - In Washburn v. Columbia Forest Products, Inc., 340 Or 469, 134 P.3d 161 (2006), the Oregon Supreme Court was faced with the question under the Oregonians with Disability Act of whether a person’s disability should be assessed with or without regard to measures which mitigate the disability.

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Legislation

Drug Reform: YES on Measure 91 - Marijuana (2014)

Law enforcement’s war on marijuana is a failure and has needlessly ensnared hundreds of thousands of people in the criminal justice system at a tremendous human and fiscal cost. Shifting Oregon away from the unsuccessful prohibition model towards a more effective harm reduction model long has been a high priority for the ACLU and our staff helped draft Ballot Measure 91.

Legalizing, regulating and taxing the recreational use of marijuana by adults 21 and older will bring a new approach to our drug laws, making them more fair, more compassionate, and smarter at reducing drug dependency and improving public health and safety. We urge a YES vote.

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ACLU Endorses New Approach Campaign to Regulate and Legalize Marijuana

June 17, 2014 - “We need to stop wasting taxpayer dollars arresting and searching people in Oregon just because they use marijuana,” said David Fidanque, executive director of the ACLU of Oregon. “Prohibition hasn’t worked and it never will. It’s time to be honest about that and take a path that makes sense.”

The New Approach Oregon campaign is collecting signatures to qualify an initiative for the November ballot. The initiative would strictly regulate marijuana sales and possession, legalize the use of marijuana by adults 21 and over only, and tax marijuana and its products, generating money for important public services like education, public safety and drug treatment

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Other

Marijuana Arrests and Citations on the Rise in Oregon

June 5, 2013 - A report issued this week by the National ACLU, based on state crime reports provided to the FBI, shows that Oregon law enforcement agencies increased the rate of citations and arrests for possession of marijuana by 45% between 2001 and 2010. Oregon’s increase was the fifth highest in the country during that period. Nationwide, African-Americans were 3.7 times more likely to be arrested for possession of marijuana than Whites despite comparable usage rates.

Analysis by the ACLU of Oregon of data made available by the Oregon State Police, shows that 90% of the marijuana possession incidents in 2010 involved less than 1 ounce of marijuana, which is punishable as a violation under state law and does not lead to arrest or jail time. That same data shows that Lane County reported the highest number of marijuana enforcement actions in 2010 with 16.7% of all marijuana possession citations and arrests statewide. Jackson County was second with 13.2%, Multnomah County was third with 8.32%, and Marion County was fourth with 7.0% of the statewide total for marijuana possession citations and arrests.

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ACLU Opposes City Council's Exclusion Order

November 18, 2010 – The ACLU of Oregon has urged the Portland City Council to oppose the creation of new exclusion zones for those found guilty of gun-related offenses.

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