OF CHIEF JUSTICE ORDER TO TAKE EFFECT JANUARY 1, 2008
The Oregon Judicial Department is soliciting public comments on a proposal to establish standards and practices for state court fee waivers and deferrals. The content listed below is proposed for inclusion in a future Chief Justice Order implementing Oregon Laws 2007, chapter 493, effective January 1, 2008.
The Oregon Judicial Department work group members and staff who worked on the proposal are listed below. They deserve special thanks for their commitment of time, energy and thoughtful contributions to this important court improvement project.
The Honorable Carol Bispham, Circuit Court Judge, Linn County
Sue Gerhardt, Family Court Coordinator, Washington County
Nancy Lamvik, Trial Court Administrator, Lincoln County
James Murchison, Trial Court Administrator, Marion County
James Nass, Appellate Legal Counsel, Salem
The Honorable Berkeley Smith, Circuit Court Judge, Columbia County
Cheryl Stone, Collections Manager, Salem
The Honorable Robert Wollheim, Oregon Court of Appeals, Salem
Karen Hightower, Deputy Legal Counsel, Salem
The deadline for public comment is November 5, 2007. Please mail written comments marked "Comments on Fee Waiver and Deferral Standards" to:
Oregon Judicial Department
Office of the State Court Administrator
Supreme Court Building
1163 State Street
Salem, Oregon 97301-2563
Attn: Karen Hightower, Deputy Legal Counsel
BY FAX: (503) 986-5722.
PROPOSED STANDARDS EFFECTIVE JANUARY 1, 2008
1. The following standards apply to all applications for waiver or deferral of fees and court costs filed in a state court:
(a) The court shall grant a waiver of fees and court costs when:
(i) the applicant receives benefits from a government program that utilizes eligibility criteria that takes into account the applicant's household income, assets and size; and
(ii) the applicant's income from all sources is less than or equal to 133 percent of the federal poverty guidelines; and,
(iii) the applicant provides proof of current eligibility for the benefit programs listed in section (3)(a).
(b) The court shall presumptively grant a waiver of fees and court costs when, after taking into account the applicant's household size, the applicant's household income from all sources, including food stamps, is less than or equal to 133 percent of the federal poverty guidelines.
(c) The court shall presumptively grant a deferral of fees and court costs when, after taking into account the applicant's household size, the applicant's household income from all sources, including food stamps, is between 133 and 185 percent of the federal poverty guidelines.
(d) The court shall presumptively deny a deferral or waiver of fees and court costs when, after taking into account the applicant's household size, the applicant's household income from all sources, including food stamps, equals or exceeds 185 percent of the federal poverty guidelines.
(e) The presumptions established by subsections (1)(b), (1)(c), and (1)(d) may be overcome if, after considering the applicant's entire financial situation, a judicial officer determines that extenuating circumstances exist. A court may not consider available credit on a credit card as an asset or source of income.
2. An order denying an application for waiver and deferral shall be supported by written findings.
3.Eligibility for waiver or deferral of fees and costs shall be established as follows:
(a) If an applicant receives the following benefits, the applicant may establish eligibility for waiver by filing an affidavit specifying the type of benefits received, and showing proof of current eligibility:
(1) Food stamps.
(2) Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF).
(3) Emergency Assistance (EA).
(b) If an applicant does not receive or is unable to show proof of current eligibility for the benefits listed in section (3)(a), the applicant may establish eligibility for waiver or deferral by filing an affidavit showing the applicant's household size, household income, assets, and, if applicable, an explanation of extenuating circumstances.
4.The State Court Administrator shall promulgate forms and instructions for use in the state courts for purposes of this Order.
5.This Order does not apply to an application filed by an inmate subject to the provisions of ORS 30.642 to 30.650.
6.As used in this Order:
(a) "Deferral" means either postponement of an obligation to pay fees and court costs or establishment of a schedule for payment of fees and court costs.
(b) "Federal poverty guidelines" means the current year poverty guidelines annually established by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
(c) "Judicial officer" means the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, the Chief Judge of the Oregon Court of Appeals, a judge of a circuit court, the judge of the Oregon Tax Court, a tax court magistrate, and includes a referee or judge pro tempore performing those duties. It does not include a justice of the peace or a judge of a county court.
(d) "State court" means the Oregon Supreme Court, the Oregon Court of Appeals, a circuit court, the Oregon Tax Court and the Magistrate Division of the Oregon Tax Court.