Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

State v. Vallin

Supreme Court of Oregon

January 31, 2019

STATE OF OREGON, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
SANTIAGO MAXIMO VALLIN, aka Santiago Vallin, Defendant-Appellant.

          Argued and submitted September 13, 2018.

          On certifcation from the Court of Appeals under ORS 19. 4 0 5. (CC 17CR35704) (CA A167097). [*]

          Ernest G. Lannet, Chief Defender, Offce of Public Defense Services, Salem, argued the cause and fled the brief for defendant-appellant.

          Benjamin Gutman, Solicitor General, Salem, argued the cause and fled the brief for respondent. Also on the brief was Ellen F. Rosenblum, Attorney General.

          Gregory A. Chaimov, Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, Portland, fled the brief for amici curiae American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon Foundation, Inc.; Oregon Justice Resource Center; and Oregon Criminal Defense Lawyers Association.

          Kenneth C. Lewis, Salem, fled the brief for amici curiae Senate Republican Leader Jackie Winters, Senator Michael Dembrow, Senator Elizabeth Steiner Hayward, House Democratic Leader Jennifer Williamson, Representative Chris Gorsek, Representative Paul Holvey, Representative Alissa Keny-Guyer, Representative Pam Marsh, representative Carla Piluso, Representative Karin Power, representative Tawna Sanchez, and Representative Janeen Sollman.

         [364 Or. 296] Margaret Olney, Bennett, Hartman, Morris & Kaplan, LLP, Portland, fled the brief for amici curiae Partnership for Safety and Justice, Oregon Students Association, Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon, YWCA of Greater Portland, Urban League, Pathfnders of Oregon and Red Lodge Transition Services.

          Before Walters, Chief Justice, and Balmer, Nakamoto, Flynn, Duncan, Nelson, and Garrett, Justices. [**]

         The judgment of the circuit court is affrmed in part and reversed in part, and the case is remanded to the circuit court for resentencing.

         Case Summary:

         In defendant's prosecution on charge of first-degree theft, an issue arose as to whether HB 3078 (2017), a bill that purported to reduce the presumptive sentence for first-degree theft, was valid and applicable to defendant if he should choose to plead guilty. The state argued that HB 3078 had not been validly enacted, because (1) Article IV, section 33, of the Oregon Constitution requires a two-thirds majority of the legislature to enact a bill that reduces any criminal sentence "approved by the people" through the initiative process; (2) the criminal sentences that HB 3078 purported to reduce had been "approved by the people" as part of Ballot Measure 57 (2008); and (3) HB 3078 had only garnered a simple majority in the legislature. Defendant responded that Article I V, section 33, was not applicable, because the criminal sentences that HB 3078 purported to reduce had not been approved by the people, but rather had been enacted by the legislature by a two-thirds majority as an amendment to Ballot Measure 57. The trial court agreed with the state and, when defendant entered a conditional guilty plea, it did not apply the sentencing reduction that HB 3078 provided. Defendant then appealed, challenging the trial court's determination that HB 3078 was enacted in violation of Article IV, section 33. The Court of Appeals cer-tifed the appeal to the Oregon Supreme Court, which accepted the certification. Held: Article I V, section 33, does not apply to the presumptive sentences set out in HB 3078 (2017) because those sentences were enacted by the legislature; the legislature therefore could validly reduce them by a simple majority vote as it did when it enacted HB 3078.

         The judgment of the circuit court is affrmed in part and reversed in part, and the case is remanded to the circuit court for resentencing.

         [364 Or. 297]WALTERS, C. J.

         Under Article IV, section 33, of the Oregon Constitution, the legislature may not reduce a criminal sentence that was "approved by the people" through the initiative or referendum process by a simple majority vote, but must garner a two-thirds majority in both houses.[1] In this certified appeal, we must determine whether that constitutional rule applies to House Bill (HB) 3078 (2017), which recently was enacted by a simple majority in the legislature and which reduces certain statutory presumptive sentences. For the reasons that follow, we conclude that HB 3078 (2017) does not "reduce a criminal sentence approved by the people" within the meaning of Article IV, section 33, and that it could be, and was, validly enacted by a simple majority of the legislature.

         FACTS

         Defendant was charged with theft in the first degree, ORS 164.055, in June 2017. At that time, ORS 137.717 provided a presumptive sentence of 18 months imprisonment for first-degree theft for defendants having two prior convictions for certain specified crimes, to be increased by two months from that baseline for every additional prior conviction of those specified crimes. ORS 137.717(1)(b) (2015). Under that scheme, defendant in the present case would have been subject to a presumptive sentence of 22 months in prison, if convicted.[2] But, while defendant's case was pending, HB 3078 (2017), which had been enacted by the legislature by a simple majority, became effective. See Or Laws 2017, ch 673, §§ 12, 13 (providing bill would become operative on, and apply to sentences imposed after, [364 Or. 298] January 1, 2018). Among other things, HB 3078 (2017) amended ORS 137.717 (2015) to provide a presumptive sentence of 13 months imprisonment for a first-degree theft conviction of a person in defendant's circumstances. Or Laws 2017, ch 673, § 5.

         In the plea negotiations in defendant's case, an issue arose as to which version of ORS 137.717 would apply if defendant were to plead guilty to first degree theft. The state insisted, in its sentencing memorandum, that the trial court would be required to sentence defendant in accordance with the 2015 version of the statute. It posited that the presumptive sentences therein had been "approved by the people" as part of Ballot Measure 57 (2008), a legislatively referred measure that increased prison sentences for repeat property-crime offenders. The state argued that that sentence had not lost its status as one that had been "approved by the people" when, in 2009, by a two-thirds majority, the legislature enacted a bill, HB 3508 (2009), that, in one section, reduced the sentences set out in ORS 137.717 (2015), but, in another section, returned them to their previous ranges, effective some two years later. Consequently, the state argued, HB 3078 (2017) was unconstitutional: the legislature had reduced a sentence "approved by the voters" when, by a simple majority and not the two-thirds majority required by Article IV, section 33, it reduced the presumptive sentences set out in ORS 137.717(1)(b) (2015). Thus, according to the state, the presumptive 13-month sentence for defendant's offense provided by HB 3078 (2017) had not been constitutionally enacted and had not replaced the 18-month presumptive sentence, with additional months for more than two prior convictions, set out in ORS 137.717(1)(b) (2015).

         In his own sentencing memorandum, defendant argued that HB 3078 (2017) had reduced a presumptive sentence that had been adopted by the legislature, not one that had been "approved by the people." Defendant acknowledged that "the people" had approved an 18-month presumptive sentence when they enacted Measure 57 in 2008, but he argued that the legislature had lawfully reduced and replaced that sentence-and others-when, in 2009, it enacted HB 3508 and amended ORS 137.717 by a two-thirds majority in both [364 Or. 299] houses. Defendant recognized that, under the 2009 amendment, the reduced sentences provided therein shifted back, after two years, to sentences that were commensurate with the sentences that the voters had approved in Measure 57. But he insisted that, because both the reduced sentences for the time period from February 15, 2010 to January 1, 2012 and the restored sentences for the period beginning on January 1, 2012 had been enacted by the legislature, not the people, the resulting sentences-including the one at issue here-did not constitute "criminal sentence[s] approved by the people" within the meaning of Article IV, section 33. Accordingly, defendant argued, although HB 3078 (2017) reduced the presumptive sentence set out in ORS 137.717 (1)(b) (2015) on a simple majority vote, that reduction was to a sentence enacted by the legislature, not to one "approved by the people," and therefore did not violate Article IV, section 33.

         The trial court rejected defendant's argument and agreed with the state that HB 3078 (2017) had been enacted in violation of Article IV, section 33. Based primarily on recitals in the preamble to the 2009 bill that amended ORS 137.717, the trial court determined that that bill reflected a legislative intent not to reduce the voter-approved sentences in Measure 57 (2008), but to phase them in over time. The trial court reasoned that, although the legislature had temporarily reduced the voter-approved sentences by the requisite supermajority, it ultimately had resurrected them. Thus, the trial court concluded, the sentences that were in place when HB 3078 came before the legislature in 2017 were the original sentences that the voters had approved as Measure 57, and, under Article IV, section 33, they could not be reduced by the simple majority vote that HB 3078 (2017) had garnered.

         After the trial court announced its decision, defendant conditionally entered a guilty plea, and the trial court imposed a stipulated downward departure sentence of 24 months of probation, which would be set aside in favor of a prison term of 22 months (the presumptive sentence under ORS 137.717(1)(b) (2015)) if his probation were to be revoked. Defendant reserved the right to appeal the trial court's determination that the 13-month presumptive sentence set out in [364 Or. 300] HB 3078 (2017) had been unconstitutionally adopted, and he exercised that right once the judgment of conviction and sentence were entered. Defendant filed a notice of appeal in the Court of Appeals, but that court certified the appeal to this court in accordance with ORS 19.405 and SB 1543 (2018), [3]and this court accepted the certification. After defendant filed his opening brief and various individuals and organizations filed amicus briefs in support of defendant's position, the state filed an answering brief in which it conceded that the trial court had erred in concluding that HB 3078 (2017) had been enacted in violation of Article IV, section 33.[4]

         That concession does not affect the task before this court. At bottom, the issue here is one of constitutional interpretation, and this court is duty-bound to interpret the law correctly, without regard to the parties' arguments or lack thereof. See Elk Creek Management Co. v. Gilbert, 353 Or. 565, 570, 303 P.3d 929 (2013) (court's task "is to interpret the statute correctly regardless of the parties' interpretations and concessions" (internal quotation marks and citation omitted)); Stull v. Hoke, 326 Or. 72, 77, 948 P.2d 722 (1997) (court "is responsible for identifying the correct interpretation, whether or not asserted by the parties"). Accordingly, in deciding what Article I, section 33, means by "a bill that reduces a criminal sentence approved by the people," we consider not only the arguments that defendant and the amid curiae make before this court and that the state made in the trial court, but any other argument or issue that might otherwise come to our attention.[5] However, before turning to [364 Or. 301] that interpretive task, we describe in greater detail the legislative circumstances that make the constitutional wording relevant.

         HISTORY OF ORS 137.717

         In 2008, the voters enacted Measure 57, which had been referred to them by the legislature. Among other things, Measure 57 increased the then-existing presumptive sentences set out in ORS 137.717 for certain property crimes when committed by repeat offenders, reduced the number of predicate offenses required to trigger those presumptive sentences, and added two months to the presumptive sentences provided for each additional predicate offense.[6] Measure 57 became effective on January 1, 2009, meaning that the presumptive sentences that it provided applied to crimes committed on or after that date. Or Laws 2008, ch 14, § 12.

         Within months of Measure 57's effective date, however, members of the legislature concluded that its full implementation should be delayed, primarily because the onset of an economic downturn had put in doubt the state's ability to [364 Or. 302] pay for the treatment programs and longer prison sentences that it required. They introduced HB 3508 (2009), a bill that sought to amend ORS 137.717, as it had been amended by Measure 57, for that reason. In its preamble, the bill recited the circumstances that led to its introduction-the state and the world were in the midst of a serious recession; the voters had approved Measure 57 which sought "to reduce property crime through drug and alcohol treatment combined with increased incarcerative sanctions"; the treatment programs that Measure 57 envisioned "need[ed] time to be implemented and adequate funding in order to be effective"; and the state "need[ed] to phase in the implementation of *** Measure 57 in order to achieve the goal ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.