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Oregon Court of Appeals again 'slam dunks' Bill Sizemore
Updated On: Nov 14, 2012
Bill Sizemore's 2009 Multnomah County Jail mug shot, when he was briefly imprisoned for contempt of court.

The appellate court rejects Sizemore's arguments that he was not guilty of contempt of court

The Oregon Court of Appeals has told Bill Sizemore, "been there, done that, shut up, go away

The Oregon Court of Appeals has told Bill Sizemore, "been there, done that, shut up, go away."


Courts don't use that exact language, of course, but that's essentially what the court said in rejecting Sizemore's most recent appeals of contempt charges stemming from cases filed early this century by the Oregon Education Association and the Oregon chapter of the American Federation of Teachers.


In 2003, Sizemore's Oregon Taxpayers United and its affiliated "education committee" were found guilty of violating the Oregon Racketeer Influence and Corrupt Organizations Act (ORICO). At that time, the courts restricted Sizemore and any "successor organizations" to Oregon Taxpayers United from simply picking up and taking off from where Sizemore and OTU had ended in the initiative petition arena. Sizemore fairly blatantly ignored the injunction, forming the Oregon Taxpayers Union and transferring money from the original OTU to the new endeavor with the same acronym. He later formed the Give Seniors A Break Political Action Committee for the purpose of promoting a local government initiative in Douglas County.


The teacher unions objected, and Sizemore was found in contempt of court and briefly jailed. Since that time, he has filed a flurry of appeals in both state and federal courts.


"Most of Bill's appeals center on constitutional issues," says PERS Coalition attorney Greg Hartman, who also handles the ORICO litigation for OEA and AFT. "He believes his [free speech] rights are being violated, and/or that he hasn't had the opportunity to argue that his rights are being violated."


But Hartman says the issues either have been addressed in previous court decisions or, in some instances, could have been but Sizemore declined to address them at that time, essentially closing the door.


"This latest Court of Appeals ruling basically tells Bill that we've been there, you've done that, you had your chance and you either lost, or you declined to take on the argument at the appropriate time in the process," says Hartman. "He was seriously slam dunked by this decision."


As this was a Court of Appeals decision, Sizemore could theoretically appeal to the Oregon Supreme Court. Hartman believes there's little chance the upper court would take the case.


"There's no legal ground for them to cover," said Hartman. "The appeals court went to great length to point out the process we've already been through. There's nothing new for the Supreme Court to review, which is the kind of case they're looking for."


Attorney Nathan Rietmann represented Sizemore at the Court of Appeals, though Rietmann has announced he's no longer working for Sizemore. Sizemore has represented himself in other recent cases, with predictable results. Sizemore was acting as his own attorney earlier this fall when Oregon Federal District Judge Michael Mossman dismissed one of Sizemore's federal suits claiming violation of his U.S. constitutional rights. Mossman, incidentally, is viewed as a very conservative judge and was appointed to his post by President George W. Bush.


"Let's just say that Mr. Sizemore is not having a lot of success representing himself," said Hartman.


Apparently undaunted, Sizemore still has one other contempt-related appeal pending in the state court system. Hartman says there is also another racketeering-related case pending that potentially involves one of Sizemore's primary funders, Loren Parks.


(Editor's note: The Court of Appeals decision is attached to this article in PDF format. Be forewarned its legalese verbiage is particularly convoluted, even by court decision standards.)



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