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Passive-Aggressive Smackdown Begins between Oregon Judges Bailey and Upton
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Judge D. Charles Bailey

By: Hannah Chee

Summary: Two Oregon Judges had a nasty courthouse feud that has now gone public.


Lacking even the tact and grace of an attitude era WWE wrestling match, Washington County Judges Bailey and Upton have been feuding over mismanaged time, undisclosed medical leave, inappropriate treatment of staff and insufficient communication.

Read about a judge that told a defendant that his death would be a favor to society.

The courthouse was subjected to a morally ambiguous public show of power by the Presiding Judge Charles Bailey when Circuit Judge Suzanne Upton missed days of work. Bailey, in response to Upton’s ongoing and persistent shirking of responsibilities, reacted aggressively when Upton’s staff asked him to assist Upton with her docket on January 5.

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Judge Suzanne Upton

Judge Suzanne Upton

Allegedly, Upton’s behavior and work ethic was under scrutiny well before Bailey took the position as presiding Judge. His predecessor, Judge Thomas Kohl’s concern lead to Upton being granted disability leave for several months during 2008 and 2009. Undisclosed medical treatments and the effects of medication have also been cited to have impacted her performance.

As potentially grievous as Upton’s alleged behavior is, presiding Judge Bailey’s reaction was also met with scrutiny. Early that morning Upton’s staff notified Bailey of her absence by email. Bailey then approached Upton’s office and proceeded to throw “a tantrum in front of her staff.” A notice commenting on the event contained many aggressive and emotional statements from Bailey. He repeatedly reminded Upton’s staff “that HE is Judge Upton’s BOSS,” “that she works for him.” and “that Judge Upton must call him on his personal or home phone number.”

Bailey’s aggression was not limited to face to face confrontation. Via group email he disclosed Upton’s personal information and cited false information which contained “negative and derogatory inferences.”

Months later, Bailey continued his online siege and sent another group email to Upton’s colleagues, a variety of court staff members and many lawyers in Washington County. The email asked them to comment on Upton’s use of court time and “was designed to insult Judge Upton, usurp her authority, and create the false impression that Judge Upton was somehow not working hard enough or effectively enough.”

This internal feud turned public spectacle contains a variety of high risk issues for both Judges. None is more potentially polarizing than gender discrimination in the workplace. According to Upton, discrimination and retaliation towards her personally began upon Bailey’s appointment in January. After being approached by Upton for time off to stay home with one of her children, Bailey was required to dip into her vacation hours to cover the cost.

Both Judges have years of experience. Upton has 18 years and Bailey nearly nine, and the loss of either individual would put the state of Oregon at a disadvantage. However, a tort claim notice as released this week and could result in a lawsuit, as this is one of the things required before suing a public body or one of its employees. Both suffer from accountability issues in the workplace, Upton for her ability to provide stable performance and Bailey for his ability to provide adequate leadership during adversity.


Article source:

Image sources: Judge D. Charles Bailey (Everton Bailey Jr./The Oregonian)

Judge Suzanne Upton (Benjamin Brink)


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