By Gordon R. Friedman

The Oregonian

A federal judge has declined to hold Oregon in contempt of court for defying a longstanding court order that requires speedy admission of mentally ill defendants to the state psychiatric hospital.

The judge, Chief U.S. District Judge Michael Mosman, said in court documents Wednesday he will review the issue again in about 90 days to see if senior state officials made good on promises to quickly implement reforms.

Emily Cooper, legal director for Disability Rights Oregon, an advocacy group that was a plaintiff in the contempt proceedings, said: “We are dismayed that the state has potentially 90 more days to violate the constitutional rights of vulnerable Oregonians who are languishing in jail.”

Mosman’s decision differs from one issued last month by a state court judge who found Oregon officials had “willfully” violated court orders.

The central issue is a 2002 federal court order that instructs Oregon State Hospital officials to admit defendants needing trial fitness treatment within seven days of a judge’s commitment order. Hospital managers had largely complied with that order for years but ran into trouble as demand for trial fitness treatment soared.

Mosman will assess the state’s progress in September.

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