CANDIDATE DENIED PUBLIC MONEY: Portland's Open and Accountable Elections administrator, Susan Mottet, has denied candidate Ronault "Polo" Catalani's request for public financing after her office determined some of Catalani's donors made contributions to him with other people's money and that other donors did not fill out required paperwork themselves. Catalani, a former longtime city employee, is one of 18 candidates seeking to succeed Commissioner Nick Fish, who died in January. "Unfortunately, your application has been denied," Mottet wrote to Catalani on April 7. Catalani is appealing Mottet's decision and asking her office to reconsider.
SUPREME COURT RULING COULD OVERTURN CONVICTIONS: The Oregon Supreme Court has begun reviewing 74 criminal appeals possibly affected by Monday's U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Ramos v. Louisiana, which effectively banned split-jury convictions. The affected verdicts resulted from just 10 or 11 jurors voting to convict. "There are expected to be more, but they are not yet identified," says Todd Sprague, spokesman for the Oregon Judicial Department. Sprague says the agency is working to identify cases where both state prosecutors and public defenders agree another trial may be warranted. Following the ruling, Oregon joined the 49 other states in requiring unanimous jury verdicts for felony convictions.
TREE WARS REDUX: One of the largest trees in Northeast Portland, a giant sequoia 9 feet in diameter and more than 100 feet tall at 12th Avenue and Mason Street, may get the ax. On April 2, the city of Portland's urban forester notified owners of two lots straddled by the tree that the sequoia must go because it is undermining one home's foundation and because city code "requires removal of trees damaging private property, and no other remedy for the foundation can be required by the city." But owners of the property not undermined by the tree, Shayan Rohani and Claire Bollinger, have started a GoFundme campaign to save it. "We've spent the last decade trying to collaborate with our neighbor on ways to keep the tree and fix his house," say the couple, who filed an appeal April 16. "Removing this tree will not fix this house." Their appeal blocks any action pending review.
GOVERNOR'S LAWYER LEAVES: Gov. Kate Brown's general counsel, Misha Isaak, left the governor's office March 9, six months after he declined nomination to the Oregon Court of Appeals. Brown nominated Isaak last August, but the state's first public records advocate, Ginger McCall, resigned just weeks later, citing Isaak's efforts to block her work and protect Brown from scrutiny. That controversy effectively scuttled Isaak's appointment. He joined the firm Perkins Coie on March 31. "The long hours and relentless crisis triage, plus the daily commute to Salem, takes a toll," Isaak says, "especially on those of us with families."
OHSU MUST GIVE MONKEY VIDEOS TO PETA: Multnomah County Circuit Judge David Rees ruled April 20 that Oregon Health & Science University must turn over 74 videos of experiments it conducted on monkeys to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. PETA filed suit against OHSU in 2019 after the university's Oregon National Primate Research Center denied PETA's public records request for the videos. Court filings say the videos show researchers documenting 11-month-old Japanese macaque monkeys' anxiety and stress responses to a "novel object test" and a "human intruder test." Rees ruled the videos are subject to public disclosure because OHSU is a public institution and the research was funded by a grant from the National Institute of Health. An OHSU spokeswoman says the university is pleased the order is limited to videos showing research that's been published in peer-reviewed publications.