Proposed initiative to allow Oregonians to demand judge or jury trials as to administrative penalities opposed by government agencies.
Here is a draft initiative we have put together which allows a person to get a trial before an independent judge or jury when an agency seeks to impose penalties or fines above $10,000.
We would welcome your comments and support for this idea. This initiative is not in circulation at this time - but it can be if we get enough support.
In essence, the Justice for All Act does the following:
(1) Whenever any state agency is engaged in an administrative proceeding or a civil judicial proceeding with a private person on the other side, the private person will be awarded reasonable attorney fees if the private person prevails. So, when a private person has to fight the government in court or in an administrative contested case, and the private person wins, the private person recovers attorney fees. There is no provision to require the private person to pay the government attorney fees if the government wins. Our thinking is that the government has plenty of resources to assume its own attorney fees.
(2) If a state agency seeks a civil penalty of $10,000 or more, against a private person, and the private person has a right to contest the penalty in a contested case, the private person may transfer the case to circuit court for a trial by a judge or jury (at the private person’s choice). In the circuit court, the state agency must prove the merits of the allegations by a preponderance of the evidence. As a separate matter, the state agency must establish that the penalty is just and reasonable. The judge (or jury if one is requested by the private person) will decide to approve the penalty or to impose a lesser penalty. It may not award a penalty higher than the agency sought.
This is intended to strengthen the protections of private persons having to deal with powerful state agencies.