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
"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.
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