Northeastern Oregon County Suspends Habeas Corpus Hearings Over Coronavirus Concerns
Umatilla County has canceled all habeas corpus hearings and trials until June. It’s the latest step taken by government officials to limit coronavirus contagion by avoiding gatherings of people.
The right of “habeas corpus” – meaning “have the body” – allows inmates to challenge or modify their detention on certain bases.
Umatilla County is home to two large state prisons, which hold more than 3,500 inmates between them. The petitions are a last resort for inmates who need things like medical equipment and procedures that have been denied.
“These are people who have spinal cord injuries, have incredible chronic pain from degenerative disk disease, who are being disciplined because of their disabilities improperly by guards,” said Tara Herivel, an attorney who represents clients whose cases were canceled. “These are incredibly serious condition cases that need to be heard as soon as possible.”
About 12 cases were canceled, according to an email from the court clerk sent to attorneys.
Herivel said the hearings are typically always remote, by video or phone.
“Everyone can, and typically does, appear remotely,” she said. “I don’t know what the legitimate basis would be for canceling these hearing and trials.”
Habeas corpus is protected by the U.S. Constitution and suspending hearings is rarely done.
“The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it,” according to Article One, Section 9.
On Friday, Oregon Supreme Court Chief Justice Martha Lee Walters issued an updated order aimed at maintaining social distancing throughout the state’s court system by directing only the most essential functions. The order does not specifically address habeas corpus, but her staff stresses that essential functions include people who are in detention.
“The Chief Justice’s order prioritizes hearing cases that affect people in custody,” Deputy Court Administrator Phillip Lemman said late Tuesday. “Implementing the order statewide is a work in progress and we will continue working with courts to make sure that the most urgent cases are prioritized.”
Copyright 2020 Oregon Public Broadcasting. To see more, visit opb.org
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday they are recommending a “pause” in the use of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine out of an “abundance of caution” while a review of reports of rare, potentially dangerous blood clots is conducted. Continue Reading U.S. Recommends Pausing Use Of Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Over Blood Clot Concerns
The Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation are opening a two-day mass vaccination event to any resident age 16 and above who resides in the 11 counties that span the tribes’ ceded territory. The offer is open to anyone, not just tribal members. Continue Reading Confederated Tribes Of The Umatilla Reservation Open Vaccines To Anyone In 11 Counties
The rehearsal of the Skagit Valley Chorale, a community choir made up mostly of retirees and not associated with the church where they practiced, happened two weeks before Gov. Jay Inslee shut down the state. The choir had taken the precautions known at the time, such as distancing themselves and sanitizing. But someone had the virus. Continue Reading Family Finds Closure, A Year After Infamous COVID-19 Superspreader At Washington Choir Practice