Our conclusion – not much!
It would seem to us that 'Judge' Grasty is no more than a glorified Chair of the Harney County Board of Commissioners, with the title of 'judge' being little more than a vanity epithet. As you can see in the cited text and link below, in Harney County a County Judge only has authority over legal matters pertaining to probate cases, dealing with the estates, wills, etc of deceased persons. He doesn't even have authority over juvenile matters like three other counties. His other authority comes only from being the Chair of the Commissioners.
The Oregon State Constitution website states –
At one time, county courts existed in all 36 Oregon counties. The title “county judge” is retained in some counties as the title of the chair of the board of county commissioners. There is no requirement that county judges be members of the bar.
Where a county judge’s judicial function still exists, it is limited to juvenile and probate matters and occupies only a portion of the judge’s time, which is primarily devoted to nonjudicial administrative responsibilities as a member of the county board.
Now only seven counties, all east of the Cascades, have county judges who retain any judicial authority: Gilliam, Sherman and Wheeler (both juvenile and probate jurisdiction); Grant, Harney, and Malheur (probate only); and Morrow (juvenile only).
But Judge Grasty makes rulings on all sorts of cases in his county. Does he really have the authority to rule on the myriad issues he rules on? If the Oregon State Constitution is correct – which we would assume it is – then the answer is a resounding no.
According to the Oregon State Constitution website, Judge Grasty's threat to fine the Malheur Refuge occupiers $70,000 a day for the extra security in Bend and the county at large, is actually unlawful. It is a gross over-stepping of his authority. This is an ethics violation, a violation of his Oath of Office, and a an offense for which he could be recalled.
Article VII, Section 12 of the Oregon State Constitution states -
Jurisdiction of county courts; county commissioners. The County Court shall have the jurisdiction pertaining to Probate Courts, and boards of County Commissioners, and such other powers, and duties, and such civil Jurisdiction, not exceeding the amount or value of five hundred dollars, and such criminal jurisdiction not extending to death or imprisonment in the penitentiary, as may be prescribed by law.—But the Legislative Assembly may provide for the election of Two Commissioners to sit with the County Judge whilst transacting County business, in any, or all of the Counties, or may provide a seperate [sic] board for transacting such business.
During our research we've come across some interesting information regarding Judge Grasty.
In 2011 Judge Grasty received a grant for all 7 sage-grouse counties to update Goal 5 resource planning. (We're currently trying to find out where the grant came from and how much it was for.)
PDF LINK : http://bit.ly/1nCbHwY
Is he? Is that what he is? Is he some sort of seven-county Head Honcho for the BLM and OSFW and their crazy conservation plans, is he in cahoots with the BLM, the agency stealing the land of his very own constituents, throwing them in jail when they refuse to sell their property for conservation projects, deliberately setting private homes on fire and burning cattle alive?
Are the people of the county aware that Judge Grasty received this grant? How much was it for? What exactly is the definition of Goal 5? Do the people of Harney County know that he is a member of the Burns Sage-Grouse Local Implementation Team? These are genuine, legitimate questions and Judge Grasty needs to answer them. We'd love it if somebody in Harney County would stand up and ask them, look him in the eye when he answers.
In his own weekly County Court sessions, Judge Grasty has aired his reservations regarding the sage-grouse conservation projects, making all the right noises – he's concerned about the economic consequences it may have on local business, he's worried what it will mean for people's property, etc. Yet, outside the confines of local meetings, in closed-door tete a tetes with ODFW and BLM et al, he is a member of the Burns Sage-Grouse LIT - the Local Implementation Team.
In addition, we've found that Judge Grasty's BLM employee brother is a member of the Vale Sage-Grouse LIT, as you can see in the document and link below.
PDF LINK : http://bit.ly/1OBcEyn
What does all this mean? We're not sure. But question after question is arising the more we learn about Harney County Judge Steven Grasty. And we have the feeling we've only just scratched the surface.
SOURCES :Oregon State Blue Book -
ODFW - Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlifehttp://www.dfw.state.or.us/