SENATE COMMITTEE ON JUDICIARY

 

 

February 09, 2005                                                                                               Hearing Room 343

1:00 p.m.                                                                                                                       Tapes 30 - 31

Corrected 10/26/05

MEMBERS PRESENT:         Sen. Charles Starr, Vice-Chair

Sen. Roger Beyer

Sen. Floyd Prozanski

Sen. Charlie Ringo

Sen. Doug Whitsett

 

MEMBER EXCUSED:          Sen. Ginny Burdick, Chair

Sen. Vicki Walker

                                               

 

STAFF PRESENT:                 Joe O'Leary, Counsel

Dale Penn, Committee Assistant

 

 

MEASURES/ISSUES HEARD & WITNESSES:

                                                SB 284 – Public Hearing and Work Session

                                                            Michael Zusman, Oregon State Bar

                                                            Susan Grabe,  Oregon State Bar

                                                SB 370 – Public Hearing

                                                            Ingrid Swenson, Public Defense Services Commission

                                                SB 371 – Public Hearing and Work Session

            Ingrid Swenson, Public Defense Services Commission

 

These minutes are in compliance with Senate and House Rules.  Only text enclosed in quotation marks reports a speaker’s exact words.  For complete contents, please refer to the tapes.

 

TAPE/#

Speaker

Comments

TAPE 30, A

004

Vice-Chair Starr

Calls the meeting to order at 1:05 p.m. and opens a public hearing on SB 284.

SB 284 – PUBLIC HEARING

016

Joe O’Leary

Counsel.  Describes SB 284, relating to the extension of the statute of limitations in certain cases if an attorney passes away before expiration of time allowed for commencement of action.

020

Michael Zusman

Oregon State Bar (OSB).  Reads testimony in support of SB 284 (EXHIBIT A) and talks about the 180-day extension on the statute of limitations. 

058

Sen. Prozanski

Asks why the timeframe of 180-days was conceived as opposed to a greater or lesser number.

068

Zusman

Replies that the 180 day period was a reasonable time period agreed upon by the committee he directs in the OSB to allow for analysis of the attorney’s remaining caseload.

080

Sen. Prozanski

Inquires about the attorney going over the remaining caseload.

083

Zusman

States that usually a partner of the deceased lawyer might take the caseload to analyze, however the Professional Liability Fund might assign a lawyer.

093

O’Leary

Comments that usually the PLF will make a review of the caseload or will assign a lawyer to deal with the caseload.

105

Sen. Beyer

Wonders what civil matters aren’t covered in this bill.

109

Zusman

Replies that this bill is meant to cover any civil lawsuit.

115

Sen. Beyer

Asks about the statute of limitations on those civil cases.

119

Zusman

Responds with information regarding the statute of limitations for civil cases.

126

Sen. Beyer

Wonders why this bill was put forward now as opposed to earlier.

130

Zusman

Replies that SB 284 probably evolved from the Procedure and Practice Committee last session.

143

Susan Grabe

Oregon State Bar (OSB).  States that there were two attorneys from Eugene that died recently, and the OSB thought this was necessary.

153

Sen. Beyer

Asks why couldn’t the client merely go and get another lawyer, why does SB 284 need to be passed.

157

Zusman

Responds that the client is generally a lay person with no idea of the statute of limitations in regards to their own case.

166

Sen. Ringo

Inquires as to a relationship between a client and a lawyer that does not involve a law firm (individual lawyers, private practice, etc.).

173

Zusman

Replies that there is no difference.  States that a law firm would usually have some method in place to deal with an issue of this magnitude while a sole practitioner might not.

187

Sen. Ringo

Asserts that the client would probably want the 180-day statute increase to be between one or two other lawyers who have dealt with the case and not the entire firm.

195

Zusman

Agrees. Says there is a written fee agreement between the firm and the client if this scenario occurs specifying a subsequent lawyer if the other is incapable of practicing law.

201

Sen. Ringo

Asks if every claim in a law firm gets 180 days if a member dies.

206

Zusman

Responds yes; the wording was developed to streamline SB 284 to apply to everyone equally.  Addresses this issue by reading the passage in SB 284 which satisfies the concern.

250

Vice-Chair Starr

Closes public hearing on SB 284 and opens a work session.

SB 284 – WORK SESSION

254

Sen. Prozanski

MOTION:  Moves SB 284 to the floor with a DO PASS recommendation.

 

 

VOTE:  4-1-2

AYE:            4 -Prozanski, Ringo, Whitsett, Starr

NAY:            1 - Sen. Beyer

EXCUSED:  2 - Burdick, Walker

320

Vice-Chair Starr

The motion Carries.

SEN. RINGO will lead discussion on the floor.

264

Sen. Prozanski

Raises concern for clients in this process not knowing a lawyer has passed away. 

282

Sen. Beyer

Comments that he does not believe this is needed, there is no real epidemic.

295

Sen. Ringo

Cites a hypothetical involving a lawyer and a client involved in this type of scenario.  Recommends the passage of SB 284 to cover these types of eventualities.

326

Vice-Chair Starr

Closes work session on SB 284 and opens a public hearing on SB 370.

SB 370 – PUBLIC HEARING

332

Joe O’Leary

Counsel.  Describes SB 370, relating to lawyer-client privilege for communications made to the Office of Public Defense Services for purpose of seeking pre-authorization for, or payment of, non-routine fees or expenses.

340

Ingrid Swenson

Public Defense Services Commission.  Reads testimony in support of SB 370 (EXHIBIT B). 

375

Swenson

Discusses examples of why this bill is necessary and how it creates a very narrow exception for lawyers to disclose privileged information. 

400

Swenson

Notes a section of the language in SB 370 that was not intended, and the amendment required to retain the conceptual meaning of the bill.

441

Vice-Chair Starr

Closes public hearing on SB 370 and opens a public hearing on SB 371.

SB 371 – PUBLIC HEARING

445

Ingrid Swenson

Public Defense Services Commission.  Testifies in support of SB 371 (EXHIBIT C).  Asserts that analysis from other professionals for the defense of some clients is often a vital part of the defense.

TAPE 31, A

035

Swenson

Discusses the narrow exception SB 371 allows for lawyers to discuss privileged information with other professionals when needed.  Declares there are no needed amendments to SB 371.

052

Vice-Chair Starr

Closes public hearing and opens a work session on SB 371.

SB 371 – WORK SESSION

054

Sen. Prozanski

MOTION:  Moves SB 371 to the floor with a DO PASS recommendation.

 

 

VOTE:  4-0-3

EXCUSED:  3 - Burdick, Ringo, Walker

060

Vice-Chair Starr

Hearing no objection, declares the motion CARRIED.

SEN. PROZANSKI will lead discussion on the floor.

061

Vice-Chair Starr

Closes work session on SB 371.

067

Joe O’Leary

Counsel.  Mentions upcoming field trip to Court of Appeals.

075

Vice-Chair Starr

Adjourns the meeting at 1:40 p.m.

 

 

 

 

EXHIBIT SUMMARY

 

  1. SB 284, written testimony, Michael Zusman, 1 p
  2. SB 370, written testimony, Ingrid Swenson, 6 pp
  3. SB 371, written testimony, Ingrid Swenson, 3 pp