Hold your kayaks!

The judge in the Oswego Lake access case has reportedly been disqualified, in mid-case, for a conflict of interest. Years ago, when she was in the state legislature, she talked with people now on the enviro side of the lawsuit. She says she spoke to both sides at the time, and she told all the litigants about it years ago, but now, somehow, it now knocks her off the case.

It's a victory for the private corporation that we used to think owned the lake but now, as it turns out, probably doesn't. The state Supreme Court has already ruled that if the bed of the lake is public property, the only remaining question is how much access the city has to give the public to the murky waters. I think the rule is that the access has to be a "reasonable" amount. The now-disqualified judge, Ann Lininger, later ruled that the lake is, in fact, a navigable waterway and thus state property.

And so it appears that a new judge will be making the call on "reasonable" access, probably after climbing a long learning curve about what's gone down in the litigation so far – 10 years' worth of hassling. Then there will be more appeals, of course. Maybe the new judge, whoever it is, will toss out some of Judge Lininger's earlier rulings, if that's possible. It's a highly unusual situation.

In any case, I wouldn't bet on your Average Joe or Jane paddling the lake for another year and a half, minimum – probably more like three or four more years, if ever.

Nigel Jaquiss at the Weed has a good summary of the story here.


  1. I've never understood why judges resist a disqualification motion, but they do. Set your ego aside, it doesn't belong on the bench. As long as there's another available judge to pick up the case that satisfies both parties, that should be the option. God knows there's plenty of other cases in Clackamas County Circuit Court that Judge Lininger could oversee, and there are other competent judges on the bench in Oregon City that can handle this litigation. Now the litigants may end up back at square one - what a waste of time and resources.


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