Archive for May, 2012

Negative Implication Helps Construe Statute

State v. McDowell, 352 Or 27 (2012)

Holding:   Defendant was arrested and held for 236 days. On the day of trial, the Circuit Court dismissed the charges. Several days later, the State reindicted on the same charges and arrested Defendant again. For purposes of the statute limiting pre-trial custody, the clock began running the first time the defendant was arrested.

1)  “Our task is to discern what the legislature contemplated in enacting (the statute), examining the text in context and, where appropriate, legislative history and other aids to construction.” citing State v. Gaines. at p. 30.

2)   “Context may include other statutes enacted simultaneously with the statute at issue, (cite omitted), as well as prior versions of the same statute.” at pp. 30-31.

3)   The statute says that if defendant’s custody is interrupted, the time he or she is not in custody after the interruption must be excluded from the 60-day limit. “That implies that the time which the defendant was in custody before the interruption does count.” at p. 32.

Courts use Standard Method to Construe Rules

Noble v. Dept. of Fish and Wildlife, 250 OrApp 252 (2012)

Holding:   The ODFW correctly construed its rule regarding fish passage requirements, and, the rule is consistent with the fish passage statute.

1)   Courts employ the same methodology to construe administrative rules as they do to construe statutes. at p. 259.

2)   “At the first level of analysis, we examine the text and context of the rule to discern the intent of the agency (cite omitted).” at p. 259.

Words Given Plain and Ordinary Meaning

American Energy, Inc. v. City of Sisters, 250 OrApp 243 (2012)

Holding:   City ordinance imposing a local fuel tax was enacted the day it was approved by the city council, not the day is was subsequently approved by the people at a citizen referendum election.

1)   “We (construe statutes) by examining the text of a statute in context, along with any relevant legislative history, to discern the legislative intent.” citing State v. Gaines. at p. 247.

2)   Where there is no statutory definition, Courts give common words their “plain and ordinary” meaning, and consult contemporary dictionaries to divine what is plain and ordinary. citing PGE v. BOLI, at p. 247.

“Or” Implies Phrases Mean Different Things

Blachana, LLC v. Bureau of Labor and Industries, 250 OrApp 80 (2012)

Holding:   BOLI erred in finding that Blachana, which operated a restaurant and bar, was a “successor to the business” of NW Sportsbar, and, therefore, liable for wage claims brought against the former business.

1)  “(W)e determine the legislature’s intended meaning of the relevant statutory text (cite omitted) by examining the text and context of the statute, including any relevant legislative history, and, if ambiguity remains after that examination, resorting to applicable statutory construction canons.” citing State v. Gaines. at p. 85.

2)   Courts give statutory terms their “plain, natural, and ordinary meaning unless the text or context indicates that another meaning was intended.” at p. 86.

3)   “We give words that have well-defined legal meaning those meanings.” at p. 86.

4)   If there are no statutory definitions provided, Courts “look to definitions from dictionaries in use at the time the statute was enacted * * *.” at p. 86.

5)  Legislature’s use of the word “or” suggests that the lawmakers intended that the two clauses contained in the sentence are “intended to be disjunctive and distinctive.” If the Court concludes that this is so, it should avoid an interpretation that renders the clauses repetitive. at pp. 87-88.

6)  The common law “sometimes is helpful in providing a backdrop against which the statute was enacted.” at p. 88.