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

Stronger Accountability Measures Needed in Portland Police Settlement Agreement

ACLU Submits Comments to Federal Court in Anticipation of February Hearing

February 3, 2014 - On Friday the ACLU submitted comments to the federal court in support of a Settlement Agreement between Portland Police Bureau, the City of Portland, and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) regarding the Portland Police’s unconstitutional practice of using excessive force against people with mental illness or experiencing mental health crisis. The comments come at the request of Judge Michael Simon, who on February 18th will hold a Fairness Hearing in his courtroom to determine whether the pending Settlement Agreement is fair and adequate to address the claims made by the DOJ after a lengthy investigation.

The Settlement Agreement is by no means perfect. We share concerns with other community advocates for police reform that the Agreement does not adequately address needed changes to the system of accountability for officer misconduct. And we fear that without stronger “teeth,” even the modest changes to the Portland Police that are mandated in the Agreement will never be implemented. 

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CRIMINAL JUSTICE: Control Prison Population Growth Through Sentencing Reform (HB 3194) (2013)

For almost two years leading up to the 2013 session, a group of legislators, judges, and criminal justice officials and stakeholders met as the Governor’s Commission on Public Safety to examine ways that Oregon can control anticipated growth in prison population and public safety spending. In December 2012 the Commission submitted its report to the Governor, which outlined several options for policy changes to address these issues. This session, the Joint Committee on Public Safety took up consideration of the options in the form of HB 3194.

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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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