An Oregon Court of Appeals ruling on Wednesday over a person's right to a jury trial could clog some county courts over low-level offenses such as shoplifting, urinating in public or interfering with police.
The court said a woman accused of shoplifting in 2010 should have received the jury trial she wanted to clear her name of a theft charge. The Multnomah County district attorney's office had reduced the misdemeanor charges to violations. The judge denied her a trial and ordered her to pay $600.
Reportedly, some counties often downgrade misdemeanors to violations to avoid the cost of trials with court-appointed lawyers.
The appeals court decision could affect dozens of Occupy Portland demonstrators who requested but were denied trials on charges such as disorderly conduct.