July 7, 2023

An insider’s view on the rewrite of ORS Chapter 18 Judgments, Part Two: Judgment Definitions


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: Here we are at the 20th anniversary of the Biennial Report (for judgments reforms.) Today we have something that doesn’t look like what other states have, that is a segregation of different judgment types.

GARY: General, Limited and Supplemental are the three main kinds.

RUSS: Where did you come up with General, Limited, Supplemental?

GARY:  I don’t remember. I don’t think we borrowed from another statute, but maybe from another state. We spent close to a year on definitions. For example, a general judgment entered by a court decides all requests for relief in the action except a request for relief in a limited judgment or a request for relief in a supplemental judgment. Makes sense!

A limited judgment decides less than all the claims or less than all the parties. It also covers interlocutory rulings. In a strict foreclosure, the limited judgment may give a defendant time to pay an amount; if they don’t pay within the time stated in the limited judgment, a general judgement is entered and (the defendant) is foreclosed and forfeits his/her/their rights in the property. By its nature, a limited judgment incorporates the language of Oregon Rules of Civil Procedures (ORCP) 67B language that there is no just reason for delay, so the clerks and the court of appeals know this judgment can be appealed. A supplemental judgment is a judgment entered after any general judgment is entered and typically awards costs and attorney fees applied for under ORCP 68.

Any one of these judgments can be corrected with a corrected general, corrected limited, or corrected supplemental judgment. If it’s a minor correction, it is no big deal, but if a correction significantly affects the rights of the parties, a new appeal period starts from date of the corrected judgment.

RUSS: I recall that if you didn’t put in the “magic language” (“there’s no just reason for delaying the judgement”) ORCP 67B, you ended up with what today is a general judgment. All those other parties or claims you wanted to adjudicate later just merged into the general judgment. Now (the definitions) make it easier for the clerk (to file correctly), but also eliminates the malpractice trap, even though that language is still in ORCP.

GARY: That was one of the goals of the work group, to minimize the chances of malpractice. And yet, I still see judgments that today are not properly labeled.

RUSS: Let me ask about the language above the judgment—not the preamble, but the actual language itself: “Now therefore it is hereby . . . blank.” Is it ordered? Is it decreed?

GARY: You want to avoid decreed, because of old equity courts. When I started out as a title officer, I had to go through cases; back then the case numbers were preceded by either an “e” for equitable proceeding or “l” for legal proceeding.

RUSS: Today, they say “Now therefore it is hereby . . . adjudged?” Is that correct? This makes sense because there is no decree language in the statutes, right?

GARY: No, it was never appropriate in a legal case.

RUSS: But we still see it.

GARY: Yes, there are people who use “decree,” but there are youngsters who are coming up who will not have “decree” in their vocabulary.

RUSS: What if the judgment document is silent, does it become a general judgment by operation?

GARY: I think subsection 2 addresses this: “If the title of a document filed with the court administrator indicates that the document is a decree, or indicates that the document is a judgment but fails to indicate whether the judgment is a limited judgment, general judgment or supplemental judgment, the court administrator may not note in the register that a judgment document has been filed, and shall return the document to the judge, unless the judgment is exempt under ORS 18.038 (2).” (ORS 18.058(2))

RUSS: So if the clerk doesn’t catch it and enters it, you have a general judgment.

GARY: I recall that it is the duty of the court administrator (to enter information in the register), but the clerk has no liability (for entering any information in the register that reflects information contained in a judgment document.) (18.058(3)

RUSS: But that may not excuse the lawyers—they may not be able to show excusable neglect or surprise to convert it back.

GARY: Yes, if they can’t timely file under 18.112 and establish ‘I was naive.’

Click here to read Part One: “Chapter 18 was a mess”

Next: Part Three: Money Awards in Judgments

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

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