Gilliam Co. Court rescinds controversial order

Court returns probate jurisdiction to county, but juvenile remains in circuit court

The Gilliam County Court rescinded its order to transfer all judicial duties to circuit court during its meeting on March 6 in Condon.

Using the South Gilliam Emergency building for the session as the Gilliam County Courthouse is under construction – the court met in executive session and emerged with a decision to rescind a portion of order 2023-01.

That order, passed in December, would have removed all judicial duties from the Gilliam County Court.

Six rural counties in Oregon have vested jurisdiction over probate matters. Each county can transfer probate cases, which involve estates and shared family assets, to circuit court on a case-by-case basis.

However, the Gilliam County Court and its legal counsel believed that the court was within its rights to make that decision. But because the Gilliam County Circuit Court would not accept any probate transfers from the Gilliam County Court, and additional concerns over the legal fees, Judge Farrar Campbell and Commissioners Shannon and Watkins opted to walk the order back.

Ultimately, the court decided that it would keep probate jurisdiction in Gilliam County but would continue to transfer juvenile jurisdiction to circuit court.

To open the regular session on March 6, the court did not discuss their decision after quickly voting on the new resolution, 2024-01, which rescinded the probate jurisdiction order. Several members of the public asked for clarification and wanted to discuss the issue, but the court would not engage. Instead, Judge Farrar Campbell said that the order, 2024-01, was on the county website. Due to some technical issues, it took several minutes for the order to appear on the county's website and after it did, members of the public continued to push the court for a discussion on the matter, which never came to fruition.

In the order, the court maintains that "legal opinions differ regarding the County Court's ability to transfer probate court jurisdiction to the Circuit Court."

While the court attempted to move on with its agenda, some members of the public continued to push the court for more answers, including Denny Newell who is the chief petitioner in the recall of Judge Farrar Campbell. Newell refused to yield and was asked several times to stop talking and to return to his seat.

But others, including Steve Shaffer who started the Frontier Justice group, thanked the court for reversing its decision and for returning probate jurisdiction to the county.


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