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JUDGE FOR YOURSELF
2/11/19, 4:35 PM
For those asking, we are still waiting on Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge Daniel Ahern’s decision regarding plaintiff’s attorney fee claim. The plaintiff’s attorney fee claim against the Crooked River Ranch Special Road District (SRD) was made necessary by SRD Commissioner John Williams refusal to produce numerous requested SRD records as required by law.
We’ve also been asked why was Jefferson County Circuit Judge Daina Vitolins assigned as the Settlement Conference Judge last October after Deschutes County Circuit Judge Wells Ashby had been assigned. We don’t know.
September 6, 2018, the court records reflected Deschutes County Circuit Court Judge, Wells Ashby, as the Settlement Conference Judge assigned to the October 16, 2018 Settlement Conference. We were ordered to submit a Settlement Conference Statement-Documents, in a sealed envelope marked CONFIDENTIAL, on or before October 2, 2018 as part of the Settlement Conference requirement. We hand delivered to the Circuit Court our Settlement Documents in a sealed package addressed to Deschutes County Circuit Court Judge Wells Ashby.
Later, and just prior to the October 16, 2018, scheduled Settlement Conference, we learned the case had been reassigned to Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge Daina Vitolins, with no explanation.
During the Settlement Conference and while terms of the settlement were being discussed, Judge Vitolins reported that defendant’s attorney Tim Gassner did NOT want Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge Hillman involved in this lawsuit, specifically regarding the plaintiff’s attorney fee claim.
The Supplemental Local Rules, used by the court, states in part, “…a judge other than the one who participated in the settlement proceedings shall be assigned to try the case.” In other words, because Judge Vitolins presided over the Settlement Conference, she was barred from hearing anything further.
Where did that leave us? With Deschutes County Judge Wells Ashby now off radar and Jefferson County Judge Vitolins barred, Judge Hillman out because Gassner says so, we were left with Jefferson County Judge Ahern.
It should be noted that Gassner’s demand that Judge Hillman be excluded was never formally requested. He did not file any recusal motions and there is no official record of Gassner’s objection.