By Paul Daquilante • Staff Writer • 

Chapman, Miller go head-to-head

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"Chapman said civil issues and not criminal matters bring a majority of citizens to court."

Well if that doesn't demonstrate her inexperience where criminal law and the size of the criminal docket for the Yamhill County Circuit Court, I don't know what else would demonstrate that. Unless, of course, she is talking about traffic violations and fines.

Anyone, to include Chapman or one of her campaign aids, can go to the website for all courts in Oregon, select Yamhill, and do a search parameter for one month and the results will show the criminal docket heavily weighted against civil.

The last time I checked, a couple weeks ago, there were over 450 criminal cases between 9/30 - 10/30, and a mere handful of civil cases.

And what does it matter if the judges are former prosecutors! It only makes sense to have those experienced in the process, familiar with the type of criminal cases that typically come before the courts, and the burden of proof that it takes to prosecute a defendant. Chapman doesn't have that experience, Miller does.

Ramsey McPhillips


I don’t doubt your statistics and passion for Lisl Miller one bit. I hear she’s a great attorney. However, unless you are in the “civil” courts as a litigant you may not know first hand about the vast void that exists in Yamhill County by not having a Judge with civil law experience on the courts.

Point in case. The last judge that was elected was a criminal lawyer. A big civil landuse case came up and the senior criminal judges changed the assigned presiding judge at the last minute to the neophyte new judge who had no landuse experience so he could get some on the job experience... and I maintain because the senior criminal lawyer judges don’t like civil case and sluffed it off to the “new guy.”

His understanding of civil landuse resulted in him
making a very bad ruling (in my opinion.) What is NOT my opinion is rather than take the very lengthy and complicated
testimony into chambers to study, he ruled from the bench. No one remembers when last a judge ruled on that complicated a landuse from the bench. Further, the inexperienced judge did not give a legitimate legal explanation for his ruling. In fact, he never gave a ruling at all! We could only appeal his decision AFTER he wrote an opinion and since he didn’t - get this - we had to hire our lawyer to write a short opinion for him that ruled against ourselves. He forced us to do this to advance our case out of his court. This Crimal lawyer/Judge not only ruled from the bench but never got around to writing his opinion as to why and forced us to file an opinion against ourselves to advance to the court of appeals. I am left to believe this new judge either ran out the clock on purpose or just didn’t have time to deal with such a complex civil case. This was no small case. His non opinion allowed the dump to expand by 1/2 million tons and if we win in appeal WM will be forced to remove the waste. 10’s of millions of dollars. Nightmare.

Ramsey McPhillips

Ramsey McPhillips

So T.W.S.... it works both ways. Not having rigeroud civil experience does not mean a criminal lawyer judge can just wing it! Our county has hugeblandfill issues that are civil... a dump, a quarry, a trail, a floundering center stake museum, urban growth boundaries. It’s more than just divorce court! Chapman and Miller are both excellent lawyers. The difference is Chapman chose to do civil and I doubt seriously had she got the Landfill case would have ruled from the bench or not filed an opinion because, my friend she does that kind of law out of choice. Miller chose criminal but that is fully covered with the cuurent Countty roster and it’s time we have a civil lawyer judge to round things off.

Ramsey McPhillips


Ramsey McPhillips - I hear you and I know of the judge you speak. I cannot answer for him, and I will not speculate or share my view on that case since I was not present and do not know all of the facts. However, suffice to say...I will admit that what happened doesn't surprise me. My sympathies for that troublesome time.

That being said, that judge is NOT Lisl Miller. Miller does in fact have civil law experience whereas that new judge you refer to really did not; nor did he have the patience or temperament to do what was just, correctly and efficiently. Miller is the opposite of that judge. She is meticulous, detailed, and leaves no stone unturned. She is all about the law and will do what it takes to make a sound decision, to include writing an opinion (she does like to write).

Yes, both are excellent attorneys in their own right. It still does not change the fact that the circuit court is dominated by criminal cases. Chapman's civil experience, while grand, will be used very little (not as much as either she or yourself thinks her experience can be used). And just because she would have civil experience doesn't mean she would hear every single civil case/trial. That's up to the presiding judge and how docketing works in the courts. That in and of itself sort of nullifies her civil experience since she will not always be utilized for that experience since 80-90% of the court docket is...CRIMINAL!


Cut n Paste:

Do a date range search for Yamhill County Circuit Court and anyone can/will see for themselves that the court docket for any given month or year is far more heavily weighted towards judges hearing criminal cases (80-90%) than civil (10-20%).


T.W.S: I don't agree with you a lot, but I'm pretty sure you're right about the civil to criminal ratio. The News Register prints the week's court cases, which are generally 2/3 of a column of debt judgments, foreclosures, and car wrecks, and 2 or 3 columns of crime. The imbalance is so obvious I have to wonder what Chapman was even thinking when she made that statement.

Meg Kirschnick

Just wanted to chime in with some facts. Here is the breakdown of a typical Circuit Court Judge's workload, per the Oregon Judicial Department:

Civil 20%
Domestic Relations & Protective Orders: 20%
Felony/misdemeanor: 34%
Juvenile: 13%
Probate & Civil Commitment: 3%
Violations: 3%
Parking: 1%

The balance of a judge's time is spent on administrative matters.


Meg Kirschnick - “Just wanted to chime in with some facts. Here is the breakdown of a typical Circuit Court Judge's workload, per the Oregon Judicial Department.........”

They key phrase there being “a typical” not the rule!!!

Wrong use of statistics, as usual. If u want the truth with real facts you great straight to the proverbial horse’s mouth: directly to the Yamhill County Circuit Court’s court calendar and NOT generalized statements by the ODOJ.

Yamhill Truth Serum

TWS what a terrific advocate you are! I would definitely jump in a foxhole with you. I've no doubt the voters in this county will get it right when the dust settles. Lisl Miller is clearly the obvious choice to serve Yamhill county for the next couple decades.

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