Crime Victims United Files Lawsuit Over False Voters' Pamphlet Statements

CRIME VICTIMS UNITED


10/26/2000

Crime Victims United filed a lawsuit today against Measure 94 proponent Mr. Vern Beardslee of Southern Oregon Citizens To Repeal Measure 11. The lawsuit seeks redress for the false statements Mr. Beardslee placed in the Oregon Voters' Pamphlet, which was distributed to 1.6 million Oregonians. The suit, based on ORS 260.532, was filed in Multnomah County Circuit Court on behalf of Crime Victims United by attorney John A. Bennett of Bullivant Houser Bailey.

The false statements in support of Measure 94, which appear on page 115 of the voters' pamphlet, are:

"For the first time in Oregon's history, more is spent on prisons than schools."

"Four teenage girls under Measure 11 committed suicide in 1998."

The facts are that we spend over 57% of our state budget on schools and approximately 7% on corrections. (Source: Legislative Fiscal Office). The corrections budget includes not only prisons, but also community corrections such as parole and probation, and treatment programs. Measure 11 itself costs less than 1% of the state budget.

Furthermore, no juvenile held under a Measure 11 sentence committed suicide in 1998 or any other year. It is true that four youths committed suicide in 1998. The Oregon Youth Authority has confirmed that these youths were not serving Measure 11 sentences. Their suicides, tragic as they are, have nothing to do with Measure 11.

One 14-year old girl who committed suicide had been sexually molested over a long period of time. The person who did that was sentenced to a lengthy term under Measure 11. (Source: Oregonian, 2/18/1998) If Measure 94 passes, this criminal will be resentenced and his prison term could be slashed. Another 3400 violent criminals and sex offenders would be resentenced under much more lenient guidelines. The Oregon Criminal Justice Commission estimates that 800 would be released in the first 90 days alone.

Mr. Beardslee's false statements are but two of thirty false or misleading statements place in the voters' pamphlet by Measure 94 supporters. The voters of Oregon have a right to a truthful voters' pamphlet. 

The text of the lawsuit follows.


IN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE STATE OF OREGON

FOR THE COUNTY OF MULTNOMAH

CRIME VICTIMS UNITED,

Plaintiff,

v.

SOUTHERN OREGON CITIZENS TO REPEAL MEASURE 11, VERN BEARDSLEE

Defendants.

No. 

COMPLAINT (ORS 260.532-FALSE PUBLICATION RELATING TO BALLOT MEASURE)

EXPEDITED TREATMENT REQUESTED

[JURY TRIAL DEMANDED]

Not Subject to Mandatory Arbitration

Crime Victims United ("Plaintiff") alleges:

1.

Plaintiff Crime Victims United is a political committee as that term is defined in ORS 260.005(15)(a).

2.

Defendants Vern Beardslee and Southern Oregon Citizens to Repeal Measure 11 submitted arguments in support of Measure 94. Copies of Defendants’ arguments are attached as Exhibit 1 to this Complaint.

3.

Defendants’ arguments contain false statements of material fact relating to Measure 94. Specifically, the false statements include the following:

a. "For the first time in Oregon’s history, more is spent on prisons than schools."

b. "Four teenage girls under Measure 11 committed suicide in 1998."

4.

Defendants, with knowledge or with reckless disregard, caused false statements of material fact relating to Measure 94 to be written, printed, published and circulated, in violation of ORS 260.532(1).

5.

As provided by ORS 260.532(5), Plaintiff has a right of action against Defendants for these violations of ORS 260.532(1).

6.

As a direct result of Defendants’ violations of ORS 260.532, Plaintiff has suffered economic damages in an amount to be proven at trial.

7.

Pursuant to ORS 260.532(6), Plaintiff is entitled to their reasonable attorneys’ fees.

8.

Pursuant to ORS 260.532(6), Plaintiff asks that a retraction of the false statements described herein be ordered to be disseminated to each recipient of the Oregon Voters Pamphlet, or as otherwise directed by this Court.

Proceedings on a complaint filed pursuant to ORS 260.532 "shall have precedence over all other business on the docket." ORS 260.532(9). "The courts shall proceed in a manner which will ensure that: *** final judgment *** is rendered before the 30th day before the general election; ***." ORS 260.532(9); (9)(a)

Accordingly, Plaintiff asks that this Complaint be given expedited treatment.

WHEREFORE, Plaintiff prays for the entry of judgment against Defendants and in favor of Plaintiff as follows:

a. For economic damages in an amount to be proven at trial;

b. for Plaintiff’s reasonable attorney fees, costs, and disbursements;

c. That Defendants be ordered to send a retraction of the false statements described herein to each recipient of the Oregon Voters Pamphlet, or in such other manner as directed by the Court.

d. Such other relief as this Court may deem just and proper under the circumstances.

DATED: October 26, 2000.

BULLIVANT HOUSER BAILEY

A Professional Corporation

By John A. Bennett, OSB #75040

Attorney for Plaintiff
Trial Attorney: John A. Bennett


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