State v. Gaines, (CC 040343619.

CourtSupreme Court of Oregon
Citation206 P.3d 1042,346 Or. 160
Docket NumberCA A124872.,SC S055031).,(CC 040343619.
PartiesSTATE of Oregon, Respondent on Review, v. Artissa Dehonda GAINES, Petitioner on Review.
Decision Date30 April 2009
206 P.3d 1042
346 Or. 160
STATE of Oregon, Respondent on Review,
Artissa Dehonda GAINES, Petitioner on Review.
(CC 040343619.
CA A124872.
SC S055031).
Supreme Court of Oregon, En Banc.
Argued and Submitted January 7, 2008.
Decided April 30, 2009.

[206 P.3d 1045]

On review from the Court of Appeals.*

Harry R. Carson, Metropolitan Public Defender, Portland, argued the cause and filed the briefs for petitioner on review.

Anna M. Joyce, Assistant Attorney General, Salem, argued the cause for respondent on review. With her on the brief were Hardy Myers, Attorney General, and Mary H. Williams, Solicitor General.


346 Or. 162

Defendant was convicted of obstructing governmental or judicial administration based on her oral refusal to cooperate in being photographed after she was arrested and lodged in a county jail. Under ORS 162.235(1), a person commits the offense of obstructing governmental or judicial administration if he or she "intentionally obstructs, impairs or hinders the administration of law or other governmental or judicial function by means of intimidation, force, physical or economic interference or obstacle." The issue that this case presents is whether defendant's refusal to cooperate was a "means of * * * physical * * * interference or obstacle" within the meaning of the statute. The Court of Appeals concluded that it was and affirmed defendant's conviction. State v. Gaines, 211 Or.App. 356, 361, 155 P.3d 61, modified and adh'd to as modified on recons, 213 Or.App. 211, 159 P.3d 1291 (2007). As we will explain, we hold that a person's mere failure to act in compliance with a lawful directive, without more, does not violate the statute. We therefore reverse the decision of the Court of Appeals and the judgment of conviction.

Because this issue arises on defendant's motion for judgment of acquittal, we state the facts in the light most favorable to the state. State v. Wolleat, 338 Or. 469, 471, 111 P.3d 1131 (2005). In January 2004, defendant was arrested and lodged in a county jail on an unrelated charge. Defendant remained incarcerated at that facility when, on March 7, 2004, Corrections Sergeant Jacobs reviewed prisoner booking photographs and discovered that defendant's file contained only a profile photograph and not also a frontal photograph of her. Jacobs informed defendant, who was in her cell, that she needed to proceed to the booking area (which was in the basement) to take that photograph. Defendant orally refused and became teary-eyed and uncooperative. Jacobs decided not to force the issue at that time. Instead, he told defendant that he would speak with her about it the next time that he visited her housing unit in the jail.

One week later, Jacobs again approached defendant and told her that she needed to go to the basement to have the photograph taken. Defendant again orally refused and, in

346 Or. 163

addition, asked to speak to her attorney. To avoid using physical force, Jacobs again did not press the issue. Jacobs instead told defendant that she could first speak to her attorney and that they would resolve the issue the next time that he was in her housing unit.

On March 20, 2004, Jacobs approached defendant a third time. Defendant told Jacobs that her attorney had advised her that Jacobs could not lawfully take her photograph unless he produced the relevant law in writing. Jacobs informed defendant that he was not obligated to produce policies or laws. He then gave defendant a direct order to proceed to the basement to have her photograph taken. For a third time, defendant voiced her unwillingness to comply. In response, Jacobs informed defendant that he was placing her on disciplinary status until

206 P.3d 1046

she complied with his order. He then sent defendant to her cell.

After defendant's third refusal, Jacobs checked the computer reports and discovered that defendant also had refused to cooperate during the initial booking process. According to those reports, defendant had turned her head to the side each time that the officers had attempted to take a frontal photograph of her. The reports also indicated that the officers had been required to resort to physical force to fingerprint defendant and dress her in jail garments. Due to defendant's resistance, the booking process took 17 hours to complete, instead of the normal three hours or so.

Given defendant's conduct during the initial booking process, Jacobs concluded that defendant likely would respond with physical resistance if Jacobs tried to force her to have her photograph taken. Rather than prompt a physical confrontation with defendant, Jacobs charged defendant by information with obstructing governmental or judicial administration, in violation of ORS 162.235(1). The information alleged that defendant, "on or about March 21, 2004," did "unlawfully and intentionally obstruct, impair and hinder the administration of law by means of physical interference and obstacle."1

346 Or. 164

Defendant was tried in a bench trial. Jacobs's testimony for the state established that defendant orally had refused to go to the booking area to be photographed and took no action to cooperate. Beyond that oral refusal and her physical inaction, the state produced no evidence of any physical resistance on defendant's part. At the close of the state's evidence, defendant moved for a judgment of acquittal, arguing that her oral refusal to go to the booking area in the basement to have her picture taken did not constitute a means of "physical * * * interference or obstacle" within the meaning of ORS 162.235. The trial court denied the motion. At the conclusion of the trial, the court found defendant guilty of the charge.

On appeal, defendant challenged that ruling, and the Court of Appeals affirmed. The Court of Appeals reasoned that "defendant's failure to move when ordered to do so obstructed Jacobs's efforts to take her photograph `by means of * * * physical [* * *] interference [] or obstacle.'" Gaines, 211 Or.App. at 361, 155 P.3d 61. We allowed defendant's petition for review.

The question presented—i.e., whether defendant's conduct, as described, constituted a "means of * * * physical * * * interference or obstacle" within the meaning of ORS 162.235(1)—poses an issue of statutory interpretation. The methodology that Oregon courts follow in interpreting statutes is a distillation of settled interpretative principles, some of which have been codified in Oregon statutes since early statehood and others of which have been articulated in this court's case law for many years. Mastriano v. Board of Parole, 342 Or. 684, 691, 159 P.3d 1151 (2007). The methodology, as outlined in PGE v. Bureau of Labor and Industries, 317 Or. 606, 610-12, 859 P.2d 1143 (1993), entails three sequential levels of analysis to determine the legislature's intent. First, the court examines the text and context of the statute. Id. at 610-11, 859 P.2d 1143. If the legislature's intent is obvious from that first level of analysis, "further inquiry is unnecessary." Id. at 611, 859 P.2d 1143. "If, but only if," the legislature's intent is not obvious from the text and context inquiry, "the court will then move to the second level, which is to consider legislative history[.]" Id. at 611, 859 P.2d 1143.2 If the legislature's intent remains unclear after

346 Or. 165

examining legislative history, "the court may resort to general maxims of statutory construction to aid in resolving the remaining uncertainty." Id. at 612, 859 P.2d 1143.

As a preliminary matter, defendant argues that this court's so-called "PGE methodology" for interpreting statutes has been legislatively changed. Specifically, relying on

206 P.3d 1047

amendments to ORS 174.020, defendant asserts that the court now must consider legislative history at the outset of the analysis and must give that history the same weight as the court gives to text and context. In other words, according to defendant, the court is statutorily bound to consider a statute's legislative history on equal footing with its text and context, whether or not the statute is ambiguous. We begin with that issue.

ORS 174.020 codifies—as it has for many years—the "cardinal rule" of statutory construction that a court "shall pursue the intention of the legislature if possible." See Holman Trf. Co. et al. v. Portland et al, 196 Or. 551, 564, 249 P.2d 175 (1952) (so characterizing the rule when it was codified at OCLA § 2-217). In 2001, the legislature added provisions directed specifically to the court's consideration of legislative history. As amended (and with the 2001 additions italicized), the statute provides:

"(1)(a) In the construction of a statute, a court shall pursue the intention of the legislature if possible.

"(b) To assist a court in its construction of a statute, a party may offer the legislative history of the statute.

"(2) When a general and particular provision are inconsistent, the latter is paramount to the former so that a particular intent controls a general intent that is inconsistent with the particular intent.

"(3) A court may limit its consideration of legislative history to the information that the parties provide to the court. A court shall give the weight to the legislative history that the court considers to be appropriate."

ORS 174.020 (emphasis added).

A threshold question for our resolution, then, is: What did the legislature intend with the addition of those provisions? That question, paradoxically, requires us to

346 Or. 166

interpret the 2001 amendments, which we ordinarily would do using the PGE methodology that defendant asserts the amendments have changed. We thus are faced with a conundrum—if we follow the settled PGE methodology to determine whether the 2001 amendments changed that methodology, and if the text and context are sufficiently plain to preclude consideration of legislative history, we run afoul of what ORS 174.020 requires, if defendant's argument is...

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