June 15, 2023

An insider’s view on the rewrite of ORS Chapter 18 Judgments, Part One: “Chapter 18 was a mess”


In 2001, long before he was a Jordan Ramis Shareholder, Gary Blacklidge joined the Oregon Law Commission work group for judgments reform. Three years later, the Oregon Legislature passed HB 2646, based nearly entirely on the work group’s recommendation[1] and rewrote ORS Chapter 18 – Judgments, which became law on January 1, 2004. In March 2023, Gary sat down with fellow Jordan Ramis Shareholder Russ Garrett to reflect on the reasons and outcomes of the work group’s efforts in this four-part blog series 20 years after the final report.


RUSS: It’s the 20th anniversary of the Biennial Report (for judgments reforms), Gary, what do you think? The statute (Chapter 18) has lasted.

GARY: There are parts that could have been better.

RUSS: Why did you (the work group) get together?

GARY: Everyone agreed Chapter 18 was a mess. What is a judgment? Is it a piece of paper, a ruling of the court, or is it a summary judgment? Later, we tried to separate it all out into definitions to make it all clear. Definitions are important. I harp on this all the time.

What’s a money judgment, is it different from a judgment? What’s a summary judgment? Is it a judgment? No. People, including the Court of Appeals—especially Appellate Commissioner Jim Nass, wanted (judgment) to be clarified. The trial court clerks (represented on the work group by Brad Swank) wanted to more easily and properly docket judgments and know when they were or weren’t appealable. What’s a decree? We did purge the word “decree” from the statutes – everything was going to be a judgment.

RUSS: You probably appeared in Multnomah Circuit Court and probably heard Judge (Donald) Londer holler over the bench that there is no “judgment order.”

GARY: He hollered a lot of things in his deep voice; the room would shake.

RUSS: We had problems (with how people filed forms): people filed orders on judgments, judgment orders, and mixed and matched these, which drove the judges’ clerks crazy. Aside from the problems of judgment docketing, it sounds like when this work group was formed, it was to take care of all of these potential complications.

GARY: Yes, including judgments that don’t involve money, like a dissolution, quiet titles and those kinds of things (which) are judgments that don’t necessarily expire. Those judgments that awarded money appeared at the time to expire, but (we had) to enter a money judgment section. This was changed to remove the word judgment, because it was part of a judgment, and became a money award.

There was a need for finality.

Judgments really don’t expire, so we had to argue about that for awhile. It’s really just the enforcement of the money award that expires. The judgment remedies, as now defined in the statute, and summarized as “execution” — including writs of garnishments and the lien effect that attaches to property – these expire after 10 years. You can extend these judgment remedies, but the judgment does not expire. This clarified and remedied the problems practitioners and the courts were having at the time.

RUSS:  When did you start practicing?

GARY: I started practicing as a lawyer in 1990. I was reading statutes and looking at court cases starting in about 1978 (as a title examiner/officer.)

RUSS: At the time both of us began practicing, the court of equity had been merged into the court of law, so the references to equitable remedies and decrees were confusing, especially to newer lawyers (who hadn’t sat) in courts of equity.

GARY: Well, it was interesting time for me—I didn’t know a lot about this (area of law). There were some very bright people in the work group[2]; I was sponging, listening and learning. Lots of debate and brainstorming—a great experience.

Next: Part 2: Judgment Definitions.


[1] “Judgments/Enforcement of Judgments: Work Group Judgment Report (LC 1090),” Biennial Report of the Oregon Law Commission, 2001-03, submitted February 6, 2003.

[2] Other work group members included: Cleve Abbe, Gary Blacklidge, Thom Brown, Justice Wallace P. Carson Jr., Thomas Christ, Mark Comstock, Jeffrey Hasson, Randal Jordan, Jaqui Koch, Jim Markee, Janet McGalliard, Greg Mowe, David Nebel, Ronelle Shankle, Ken Sherma, Rep. Lane Shetterly, Brad Swank, Irene Taylor. Oregon Law Commission staff members included: David Heynderickx, Wendy Johnson, David Kenagy, Craig Prins, William Taylor.

Tags: Bankruptcy and Creditors’ Rights

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