Clackamas County, Office of County Council
Miles Ward; Interim County Counsel
(& others) assistants
October 26, 1999
Commissioner Bill Kennemier
Chair, Board of County Commissioners
906 Main Street
Oregon City, OR 97045

Re: City of Milwaukie v. Delores Heckmann, Dianne Heckamnn and Wilhelm Heckmann;
Circuit Court Case # CCV 99-06484

Dear Commissioner Kennemer,
            You recently asked our office to research and report to you concerning a request that has been made to the Board of County Commissioners to become involved in certian legal proceeers to become involved in certian legal proceedings between the City of Milwaukie & there members of the Heckmann family. Specifically, it was suggested that the Board of County Commissioners could declare itself to be a county court and take jurisdiction over the pending dispute between the parties, and possibly grant the Heckmanns the legal relief they have not obtained from the circuit court. Our review discloses that it would not be appropriate for the Board of County Commissioners to do this. However, the Heckmanns doHeckmanns do have certain options open to them that they should consider without further delay.

            Oregon law in days of yore provided that the governing body of the county could function as a "county court". One member of the court was designated as the "county judge" and was empowered to exercise limited judicial powers, in addition to conducting regular county business. Under Art. 7, Section 12 of the original Oregon ConstitOregon Constitution, the county court through its county judge had jurisdiction over probate matters, civil matters not exceeding $500, and crimes that did not involve either the death penalty or a possibility of imprisonment. Two commissioners were elected to "sit with the county judge whilst transacting county business."

            However, Clackamas County no longer functions under this antiquated system. ORS 203.230 allows counties tows counties to dispense with the county court and county judge system and establish a board of three commissioners to transact county business. More importantly, ORS 3.130 provides that in Clackamas County (along with a number of other named counties),

            "All judicial jurisdiction, authority, power, and functions and duties of the county courts
          p;    and the judges thereof, except the jurisdiction, powers, functions and duties exercisable in the
            transaction of county business, are transferred to the circuit courts and the judges thereof ..."

            Accordingly, it is not within the current power of the Board of Commissioners to attempt to exercise judicial powers indicial powers in any matter that is within the jurisdiction of the circuit courts.

            The Heckamnns are presently involved in a case in Clackamas County Circuit Court, Case # CCV 99 06484. In that case, the City of Milwaukie transcribed two money judgements from its own municipal court to the circuit court, and sought an order authorizing the sale of real property under a writ of execution issued on those judgements. The Heckmanns The Heckmanns objected. The court held a hearing and issued both an Order Authorizing Sale of Residential Real Property and a Writ of Execution. Copies of both documents accompany this letter. Based on the Writ of Execution the Sheriff conducted a sale of the property under ORS 23.410-.520.

            The Heckamnns have filed an Notice of Appeal indicating that they intend to appeal this aces to the Oregon Court of Appeals. However, they However, they have not sought to stay the enforcement of the judgement, which they could attempt to do. The assistance of an attorney would undoubtably be of greeat benefit to them in this regard. In addition, under ORS 23.560 the Heckmanns could choose to redeem their property, by paying the amount of the judgements with interest within 180 days after the date of the sale. They may have other legal remedies available to them as well. Again, an attorney of their choosing would be the best way tthe best way to start.

            For whatever reasons, the Heckmans are presently receiving advice from persons who do not claim to be licensed attorneys. It is this advice that apparently has brought the Heckmanns to the Board. However, for reasons described above, the Board of County Commissioners is not the place to seek assistance, Even if the Board wanted to, it could not legally exercise any judicial power in the private legal disvate legal dispute between the Hecakmanns and the City of Milwaukie. It is completely unrealistic for anyone to suggest otherwise. The Heckmanns are involved in a very serious legal matter, and if they persist in seeking unrealistic solutions to their real problems, I expect they will only continue to suffer. They should not hesitate even one day longer to contact a lawyer if they hope to salvage anything from this case.

If there are any other matters that you would like addressed, please let, please let me know.

Thank You.

Very truly yours,

Miles Ward
Assistant County Counsel >