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Who Stole Oregon's courts?

This article was written in 1985 by Pastor Paul Revere

Pastor Paul RevereWhile I was attempting to write pleadings for my special appearance in traffic court here in Oregon, I came across a magnificently executed deception. Oregonians have been robbed of their constitutional courts. Since the Oregon Constitution was amended in 1910, the only constitutionally created court in the state is the Oregon Supreme Court. Article VII, amended, removed the lower courts from the Constitution and gradually, through the years, the legislature has stolen the lower courts and put them under their control.

Back in high school, we were taught the separation of powers doctrine which states there are three separate, but equal, branches of government. Article III of the Oregon Constitution states:

Article III of the Oregon ConstitutionSection 1. Separation of powers. The powers of the Government shall be divided into three seperate (sic) departments, the Legislative, the Executive, including the administrative, and the Judicial; and no person charged with official duties under one of these departments, shall exercise any of the functions of another, except as in this Constitution expressly provided. - (emphasis added)

The Judicial Branch was originally vested with the following power in Article VII (Original):

Article VII of the Oregon Constitution (Original)Section 1. Courts in which judicial power vested. The Judicial power of the State shall be vested in a Suprume (sic) Court, Circuits (sic) Courts, and County Courts, which shall be Courts of Record having general jurisdiction, to be defined, limited, and regulated by law in accordance with this Constitution.-Justices of the Peace may also be invested with limited Judicial powers, and Municipal Courts may be created to administer the regulations of incorporated towns, and cities. - (emphasis added)

In 1910, through initiative petition, Article VII was amended to read as follows:

Article VII of the Oregon Constitution (Amended)Section 1. Courts; election of judges; term of office; compensation. The judicial power of the state shall be vested in one supreme court and in such other courts as may from time to time be created by law. The judges of the supreme and other courts shall be elected by the legal voters of the state or of their respective districts for a term of six years, and shall receive such compensation as may be provided by law, which compensation shall not be diminished during the term for which they are elected. - (emphasis added)

Notice that Article VII (Amended), Section 1, does not name the circuit and county courts, but merely says the judicial power shall be vested in one supreme court and in such other courts as may from time to time be created by law. The people of Oregon, back in 1910, probably assumed the other courts that could be created from time to time were the circuit and county courts then in existence. In reality, the names of the county and circuit courts were not changed, but their master did change. Over the years, through legislative statutes, the county and circuit courts were put under the control of the legislature and were no longer constitutional courts. Apparently, as recently as 1945, a county judge thought he held a constitutional salaried office and had special immunities. The Supreme Court disagreed and stated, "The county court is no longer a constitutional court." (Fehl v. Jackson County, 177 Or 210)

Further clarification that Article VII (Amended) removed the lower courts from being a creature of the Constitution is found in the 1914 action entitled, In Re McCormick's Estate (72 Or 621), where the Oregon Supreme Court stated:

Article VII, Section 1, of the original Constitution vested the judicial power of the state in the Supreme, Circuit and County Courts, and defined the jurisdiction of each. The amendment referred to vested the judicial power in the Supreme Court, and such other courts as might thereafter be established by law, leaving it wholly in the power of the legislature or the people by the initiative to alter, abolish or create such courts as they might see fit.

This implies that the lower courts were to be created by the legislature, not the constitution. It is clear in the 1958 Oregon Supreme Court decision of State ex rel Wernmark v. Hopkins (213 Or 678) that the judicial power of the lower courts was under the arm of the legislature, instead of being a separate branch of government.

Since amended Art VII authorized the legislature to abolish or remake the county court, and the legislative assembly, in embracing that power, retained only the name of the body, but changed it from a court to an administrative unit we believe that the conclusion is warranted that so far as Art XV, Section 2, is concerned, the legislature created the county court of Jackson county. - (emphasis added)

Another example of our courts being creations of the legislature is Oregon Revised Statute 2.510, which created the Court of Appeals:

2.510 Court of Appeals. As part of the judicial branch of state government, there is created a court of justice to be known as the Court of Appeals.

Is the legislature creating courts for the people or for those who are creations of the legislature, such as corporate entities?

State ex rel Madden v. Crawford (207 Or 82) explains further the wide powers the legislature now has over the courts:

Under Section 1 of Art VII, prior to the amendment of 1910, the judicial power of the state was vested in a supreme court, circuit courts, and county courts, but under the 1910 amendment, circuit courts and county courts were not mentioned. Hence, under Section 1 of Art VII, as amended in 1910, the Supreme Court is the only court created by the constitution itself; all other courts are to be created by legislative act.

...Under this provision, the courts, jurisdiction, and judicial system of the state existing at the time the amendment was adopted were continued in existence until the legislature made changes therein, excepting only where the amendment itself expressly made changes.

By virtue of the provisions of Sections 1 and 2 of Art VII, as amended, the legislature is given wide, but not unlimited, latitude in the creation of courts, in establishing the jurisdiction of and procedure for the courts so created, and in making changes in the judicial system of the state.

As far as the legislature controlling the functions of the Oregon Supreme Court, State ex rel Madden v. Crawford states:

... But it cannot, either directly or indirectly, abolish this constitutional court, but aside from matters inherently within the power of the court and the specific jurisdiction given us by Section 2 of Art VII, as amended, in mandamus, quo warranto, and habeas corpus proceedings, it may limit our jurisdiction, or add to it.

When you analyze the power the legislature has over even the Supreme Court, it appears the legislature controls the Supreme Court, too. The legislature can dictate the Court's jurisdiction except for a few exceptions where the Court can exercise its discretion in taking original jurisdiction in mandamus, quo warranto and habeas corpus proceedings. The legislature cannot abolish the Oregon Supreme Court, but it can certainly dictate the Court's jurisdiction so that it becomes the desired tool of the legislature.

State ex rel Madden v. Crawford sums up the legislature's power by stating:

...In truth, but subject to certain qualifications unnecessary to mention, the legislature is empowered to change at any time the entire judicial system of this state.

Just imagine the power the legislature has amassed. First they make the laws, next they employ the police to enforce the laws, and finally the laws are adjudicated in their own courts. Is there any chance for a fair, impartial trial when the judges are paid to enforce their creator's (the legislature) statutes?

The three branches of government created by "we the people" are no longer separate or balanced. In Oregon, it appears all the courts are controlled by the legislature. A once free people have been seduced through the years into becoming subjects of the legislature. But if we refuse to be enticed into benefits and privileges offered by the lawmakers, can the legislature claim we are one of its creatures and try us in their courts?

The bible provides many answers on the master - servant relationship and talks about the head becoming the tail and the servant not being greater than his master. Surprisingly, even case law agrees with the Bible. In Cole v. Seaside (80 Or 73) the Supreme Court stated, "The creature cannot control the creator." How can the legislature (the creature) control us (their creator)? It is time that we come out from under men's laws and obey the One who created us.

If you wish to research this matter further, check out Volume 8 of the Oregon Revised Statutes under the annotations of Art VII amended of the Oregon Constitution.

Who created us? Did God put the breath of life in us or did the legislature? Who makes our laws - God or the legislature?

Today the legislature, even though elected by the democratic process, acts as a king. We receive the fruits of the legislature and are expected to obey the statutes they make for society. But what if we don't want to play their game anymore? What if we claim Jesus Christ as our only King? What need do we have for men's vain philosophies?