On August 2, the Oregon Supreme Court took the unusual step of censuring a judge for taking far too long to issue a decision. The bare facts don't favor the judge (Fred Avera of Polk County) look very good: he heard a divorce case on April 10, 2010. The attorneys wrote him on June 29, July 19, and November 8 to remind him that he had not issued a decision. In February 2011 the wife's lawyer submitted a proposed judgment, to which the husband's lawyer objected. In April 2011 the husband's lawyer submitted a proposed judgment, to which the wife's lawyer objected. At last, on August 23, 2011 (407 days after the trial), Judge Avera issued his decision and apologized to the couple and their lawyers.
But wait, as Paul Harvey used to say, for the rest of the story. In the supreme court's words, slightly condensed: "In May 2010, another Polk County Circuit Court judge (Charles E. Luukinen) made a surprise announcement of his retirement effective July 31, 2010. A replacement judge was not appointed and no pro tem judges were made available until the newly elected judge took the bench in January 2011. Judge Avera and the county's other judge were, consequently, left to handle the county's three judge caseload. Keeping up wiht the day to day court schedule became difficult, even though Judge Avera worked evenings and, at times, on weekends."
Translated, the court was saying that Judge Avera was working overtime to cover for Judge Luukinen, and hinting that the real fault was either with then-Governor Kulongoski for not appointing a replacement, or more broadly with the legislature for not funding enough judges for Polk County. Judge Avera, rather like the unhappy Admiral Byng at Minorca, had the misfortune to be chosen as the example.