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 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: In our prior blogs about ORS Chapter 18, we talked about the definitions of a judgment. Let’s talk about a money award. The rules are fairly specific: the statute identifies what (wording) has to go in a money award, how it has to be delineated and in what order it has to be delineated. It has to be designated a money award and it has to be in a certain place in the judgment, or else? Tell us about this.
GARY: Or else it may not be a lien on property automatically. “Any judgment in a civil action that includes a money award, but does not contain a separate section clearly labeled as a money award, does not create a judgment lien but may be enforced by any other judgment remedy.” (ORS 18.042(1)).
RUSS: What if (the judgment) is entered in the judgment docket even though it does not say money award.
GARY: Good question. The clerk shouldn’t enter it (the judgment), but if it is entered into the docket, arguably you have a lien.
RUSS: Where does the money award need to be placed in the judgment form?
GARY: Immediately above the judge’s signature. You’re thinking of [subsection 3] about the order of things in the judgment: “The information required by subsection (2) of this section must be set forth in the money award section of the judgment document in the same order as the requirements appear in subsection (2) of this section.” (ORS 18.042(3))
RUSS: It’s not intuitive for most lawyers that the statute requires specific language in a specific order.
GARY: The statute doesn’t say “substantially the following form,” it says it must include all of the following, and must be set forth in the money award section in the same order. Secondly, it must be a separate section placed immediately above the judge’s or court administrator’s signature.
RUSS: Earlier today I showed you an example of “Order of Judgment by Default” that included a “monetary award,” not a money award. The money award language doesn’t track exactly according to the statute language piece by piece. As I recall, Chapter 18 states that money order language has to follow the statute language. Do you remember why (the money award language has to follow the statute)?
GARY: I think that was mostly copied out of ORCP for what had been a money judgment in the early 1990s. ORCP incorporated a money judgment section so the trial clerk could properly enter the right information into the docket.
So, the example we were looking at with the “monetary award” section at the beginning of the document is hopelessly defective.
RUSS: In our example, there was no prejudgment interest applied, which is unusual, especially in a contract execution. Starting with a premise that the Oregon Law Commission wanted clarity to the courts and clerks, what is your recommendation for the insertion of prejudgment interest and other costs in the money award. How does the statute address it?
GARY: Basically, the statute says the money award portion has to have the amount of money awarded in the judgment, exclusive of amounts to be required in a separate section (ORS 18.042(2). Paragraph (e) was prejudgment interest owed as of the date of the judgment: “Any interest owed as of the date the judgment is entered in the register, either as a specific amount or as accrual information, including the rate or rates of interest, the balance or balances upon which interest accrues, the date or dates from which interest at each rate on each balance runs, and whether interest is simple or compounded and, if compounded, at what intervals.” This was really important when I represented hard money lenders. Paragraph (f) includes the same information about interest that accrues after the judgment was registered, that is, post-judgment interest. Paragraph (g) pertains to monetary obligations “payable on a periodic basis, any accrued arrearages, required further payments per period and payment dates.” Paragraph (h) applies if the judgment requires payment of costs and disbursements or payment of attorney fees: “a statement indicating that the award is made, any specific amounts awarded, a clear identification of the specific requests for relief for which any attorney fees are awarded and the amount of attorney fees awarded for each request for relief.”
RUSS: That’s all in the money award. If you have multiple claims and you have attorney fees awarded for each of the multiple claims, they should each be identified in the money award.
GARY: I rarely see that. Usually it’s all lumped together.
RUSS: It becomes interesting if you have multiple claims and different interest rates for each claim. It could be a nightmare. Overall, would you say, be very specific about which claims the interest runs on prejudgment, which claims the attorney fees are awarded under, and that the money award is calculated with absolute certainty?
GARY: Correct. The idea here is that someone looking at the judgment could calculate the remaining balance at any given point (unless partial satisfaction payments were made.)
Next: Part 4: Judgment Execution and Remedies
 “Judgments/Enforcement of Judgments: Work Group Judgment Report (LC 1090),” Biennial Report of the Oregon Law Commission, 2001-03, submitted February 6, 2003.