Tips for Criminal Cases

April 2009
By Judge Youlee You, Multnomah County Circuit Court.

This month's tips pertain to criminal cases.

Tips for Criminal Procedures Court (CPC)

Here are some tips for attorneys who are not familiar with CPC.

  1. CPC has a high volume docket and is very busy. Be sure to have the information you need prior to coming to court, especially custody information. The clerk does not have time to stop and check booking dates, charges, holds and other information.
  2. To make a good record, state and spell your name, state your bar number, and state the case name and number. Please make sure you are speaking within the pick-up range of a microphone. All of these items are essential if you want a clear record.
  3. Ex parte:
    1. Ex parte is for short, agreed-upon requests such as scheduling adjustments and waivers of appearance. Anything else must be placed on the CPC Further Proceedings docket so that the Deputy District Attorney (DDA) and court can have their files.
    2. Call or email the District Attorney's Office in advance so the DDA has enough time to review the file. Get the DDA's position. The court will not consider ex parte motions unless the DDA has had a chance to consider the request.
    3. Be familiar with the CPC dockets. Avoid appearing for CPC on the wrong docket or when there is no CPC docket.
    4. Because of the high volume in CPC, the court is not always available to handle your ex parte matter right away. Please be patient. Also, the court may need to have the matter docketed, in order to have the court file available for review.
  4. Be familiar with CPC's published rules. If you are unsure of what to do, check with the CPC clerk. The DDAs and public defenders also are often willing to assist with information.

Request your interpreter

Defendants have the right to interpreter services and so do victims. The attorneys are responsible for placing their requests with Interpreter Services. It is not sufficient if the court indicates on an order that an interpreter will be needed. Interpreter Services does not monitor the court's orders.

So, if a defendant, victim or witness will need an interpreter, make sure you request one in advance. For languages other than Spanish, make your request far in advance. Interpreters for some languages are harder to schedule and sometimes they must travel from different parts of the country.

Check to see if the defendant is on probation or has warrants

Many times, the attorneys for the state and defense do not know whether the defendants are on probation or have outstanding warrants. In some instances, defense counsel may have tactical reasons for not disclosing this information. In many cases, however, it seems that the attorneys for both sides simply have not checked.

Defendants who have committed new crimes are in violation of their probations and must be adequately counseled on the ramifications of their pleas. Moreover, it may be that both the new case and the probation violation can be resolved in a global disposition, which could be to the defendant's benefit.

The worst case scenario is for a defendant to be later arrested on a Probation Violation (PV) or probation officer warrant. Sometimes, defendants must be brought all the way back from prison just to handle PVs that could have been handled at the same time as their other cases. As a result, they may lose their beds or other privileges that they have earned. Defendants who are out of custody may lose jobs, treatment beds, etc., as the result of being arrested on a probation violation warrant. Additionally, a defendant may mistakenly be placed on probation to two different judges. This results in defendants being confused and unsure about the requirements of their probations and who to contact for assistance.

Finally, checking for warrants prevents unexpected surprises. In one recent instance, a defendant was on trial in Multnomah County for a misdemeanor charge. He was out of custody and had shown up for two prior pretrial conferences without incident. After he was acquitted, he was taken into custody, much to everyone's surprise, because he had a PV warrant in another Multnomah County case.