Here’s the link to a report in The Oregonian posted on OregonLive about this week’s increase in filing fees in Oregon’s civil court system. Longer analysis here explaining the problem. The comments at OregonLive are a bit disconcerting, what with yammering about frivolous lawsuits and a 1989 Orange County case.
Last I checked, Orange County was in California, not Oregon. And 1989 was, like, 20 years ago. The case sounds suspiciously like a number of made-up cases from the 1980’s that turned out to be urban mythic. Not that it matters–that wasn’t the case here, and it isn’t the case now.
But the noise about frivolous lawsuits from 1989 in California misses the point.
The real problem is that ordinary Oregonians–people who pay their bills and keep their heads down–are going to be barred from the courthouse. It’s not just filing fees. The courts will now charge costs at stage of the case (motions, orders, appearances, arguments). The Oregonian article missed that part of the story. Unless we face up to funding services in our state, only the rich will enjoy basic rights like access to justice. You can’t afford it? No justice for you.