SC Number:
CA Number:
Case Title:
Craig Colby v. Karen Gunson
09:30 AM
Supreme Court
Craig Colby, on behalf of Petitioner on Review
Jerry Lidz, on behalf of Respondent on Review
Statement of Issues:
Craig Colby v. Karen Gunson (S057691) (A133979) (appeal from Marion County Circuit Court; opinion reported at 224 Or App 666, 199 P3d 350 (2008)).

Plaintiff Craig Colby seeks review of a Court of Appeals decision that denied his request for attorney fees under ORS 192.490(3).

Plaintiff, an active member of the Oregon State Bar, sought the release, under Oregon's public records law, of an autopsy report for a decedent in a police shooting. The trial court denied release, but the Court of Appeals reversed and remanded. Colby v. Gunson, 224 Or App 666, 199 P3d 350 (2008). The Court of Appeals concluded that the records were not exempt from disclosure under ORS 192.502(9)(a), but the court remanded back to the trial court for further proceedings to determine whether another exemption applied to prohibit disclosure.

Plaintiff thereafter petitioned the Court of Appeals for attorney fees and costs under ORS 192.490(3). The court denied the petition for attorney fees, but allowed costs in the amount of $520.98, to abide the outcome on remand. The court acknowledged that ORS 192.490(3) does not require that attorney fees be "incurred, " but noted that the traditional definition of "attorney fee" is "the price demanded by an attorney for services rendered to a separate client entity." The court focused on the definition of "attorney fee" in Black's Law Dictionary, as well as the ordinary dictionary definitions of "fee" and "charge." In addition, the court noted that other jurisdictions have interpreted similarly worded attorney fee provisions in public records disclosure laws in a similar manner. The court concluded that the allowance of attorney fees in ORS 192.490(3) includes only a charge by an attorney that a separate entity is obligated to pay, not the hypothetical compensation that a self-represented attorney might have been paid by another person. Accordingly, the court held that plaintiff was not entitled to an award of attorney fees.

Plaintiff petitioned for review before the Supreme Court. On review, the issue is whether the Court of Appeals erred in holding that an attorney who represented himself may not recover attorney fees under ORS 192.490(3).

The foregoing summary of a Supreme Court case that is scheduled for oral argument has been prepared for the benefit of the public. Parties and practitioners should rely on neither the factual summary set out above, nor the statement of issues to be decided, as delineating the questions that the Supreme Court ultimately may consider on review. See generally Oregon Rule of Appellate Procedure 9.20.
Justice(s) NOT Participating:
Merit Briefs

Last Revised: 04/27/2010