A CIVIL JURY TRIAL? -- NOT!
Newbie Washington County Judge Andrew Erwin thought he would do it himself. Any trial attorney will tell you they can see it in the judge’s eye; that cold glance, that averted eye. The judge doesn’t like you!! What can you do? Nothing. There is no recourse. If a judge wants to take away your right to a jury trial of your peers, there is not one thing you can do about it.
Our judges do this even though the right to a jury trial is right there in the constitution. Section 17 of Article 1 of the Oregon Constitution says: “Jury trial in civil cases. In all civil cases the right of Trial by Jury shall remain inviolate.”
When is the last time you have seen a jury decide a divorce? That is a civil matter. How about a civil commitment to a mental hospital? A will contest? A condemnation of your home? The list is legion of where your right to a jury trial has been taken away.
Judges do it all the time. It is what noble, nubile, nubilous Judge Erwin did to me yesterday. Sixty three percent of all civil trials never even get to a jury even where there is a right to a jury. How do judges do it? Through the devises of a Directed Verdict or a Summary judgment. It was a Directed Verdict that did it to me yesterday. Here is how it happened.
Judges in Washington County (and throughout the State) don’t like me because I am challenging Oregon’s legal power structure. I am recommending a formal statewide system of judicial evaluations. Judges don't like cameras in the courtroom because they don't like accountability. Yet, our whole system of justice is based on a public system open to everyone. The Oregon Constitution provides:
"No court shall be secret, but justice shall be administered, openly and without purchase, completely and without delay, and every man (sic) shall have remedy by due course of law for injury done him in his person, property, or reputation." Article 1, Section 10
When I walked into the courtroom Tuesday, I knew I was going to get fried. I was entitled to a jury trial and honest Judge Andrew Erwin knew from the beginning he wasn’t going to let the jury decide my case. He wanted to do it, and decide it he did. He threw the jury out through a Directed Verdict even though the jury had to sit through two days of the sordid affair; all the way to the end. Judge Erwin just unilaterally snatched the decision making away from a jury of my peers. There is nothing I can do about it. The Commission on Judicial Fitness and Disability does not care. They don’t even care if a judge lies. The Court of Appeals doesn’t care because they are “brothers” in arms. The Oregon State Bar does not care. Nobody cares. Yet the Oregon Code of Judicial Conduct states that "A judge shall not engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation." JR 1-101(D) Moreover, the Code requires a judge to disqualify him or herself if they cannot be fair or if they are biased. JR 2-106(A)
When I walked into the courtroom I could see it in his face and it was not long before he gave it to me with both barrels. Even before we were out of the chute he openly accused me of misrepresenting something. When I offered to provide proof of what I had said, he backed down.
Then he eliminated half my case by the simple expedient of not allowing my evidence into the case while letting in all of my opponents case.
Thus, through the device of a Directed Verdict in my opponents favor, he removed the attentive jury from deciding the case.
Virtually, the same thing can be done before a jury is sworn in through the analogous device of a summary judgment.
Recourse? An appeal? It is not a satisfactory remedy because it is a Byzantine process (See A Civil Action—the John Travolta movie or read the book) in which only about 17% of appellants win.
My remedy, therefore is to rate the judge: Here we go.
MODEL LITIGANT SURVEY FOR TRIAL JUDGE EVALUATIONS (CIVIL CASES)
We are interested in learning about your recent experience with our court system. Please take a few minutes to complete this survey regarding your perceptions of Judge Andrew Erwin and the court’s handling of your case. Your responses will be kept (somewhat) anonymous and will help us maintain a legal system and a court system that is efficient, effective and FAIR.
Please answer the following questions about your case:
1. Were you the plaintiff or defendant in your case? (circle one).
2. How long did the court proceeding last? 3 Days
3. Did you win or lose? (circle one). Other____________
Please answer the following questions about the judge:
1. Did the judge appear well-prepared for your case? Yes No
2. Did the judge deal with your case promptly? Yes No
3. Was the judge respectful to you? Yes No
4. Was the judge respectful to the other parties? Yes No
5. Did the judge manage the process efficiently? Yes No
6. Did the judge listen to your side of the case? Yes No
7. Were the judge’s rulings clear? Yes No
8. Did the judge explain the rulings? Yes No
9. Was the judge fair? Yes No
10. Was the judge respectful to staff personnel? Yes No
Please add any other comments you would like to make about the judge.
Judge Erwin was clearly biased against me from the beginning to the end. He made up facts so he could deny my Motion for Summary Judgment. Judge Erwin, an ex DA, did not know who starts first in picking a civil jury. The judge delayed ruling on all motions until the day of trial. This prevents the parties from knowing what part of the case will go to a jury until the morning of trial. The judge admonished me in front of the jury. The judge listened patiently to the other side’s arguments and to mine not at all. The judge did not understand the law nor did he care about the law. There was not even a pretense of a fair trial.
My motion for change of venue—I lost
My motion to compel discovery --I lost
My motion to dismiss -- I lost
My motion to postpone -- I lost
My motion for mistrial -- I lost
Their motion to sever -- They won
Their motion to strike -- They won
Their motion to quash -- They won
Their motion for directed verdict -- They won
FEEDBACK REQUEST --
If our judiciary can bulldoze over me in this fashion then they can do it everyday to everybody. They ignore The Rule of Law and they ignore Fairness. It is a power trip by many mental midgets. Give me your court experience feedback on your Judge Erwin right here. It will be kept anonymous. I assure you.