Oregon State Bar Bulletin — APRIL 2004

Letters

In Germany’s Defense
I was disappointed to read the article about military assistance ('Protection for the Protectors,' December 2003) in which its author claimed discrimination by Daimler because Germany did not support the war. I have been in Germany as a JAG officer since November 1999. Ever since 9/11, thousands of German soldiers and police have been resolute in guarding our military installations and family housing areas.

Without Germany’s support the U.S. Army could not have met its mission in the Gulf. That is a fact.

Capt. Stephen Carpenter
Army JAG Corps
Friedberg, Germany

A Better Idea
On Feb. 17, 2004, the Oregon State Bar approved two diversity credits for watching a play! The bar approved the application within two hours of receipt, despite no legal written materials.

The play, entitled The Laramie Project, was performed by amateur and professional actors at Lane Community College on Feb. 27 and 28, 2004. The play’s script was originally written by several New York actors who interviewed citizens of Laramie, Wyoming and read court transcripts. The script has been significantly modified several times so the play that was performed at LCC was a fictionalized version of an actual murder that took place in 1998 wherein two low-life, never-do-well thugs were convicted of killing a homosexual man.

Unlike true crime writers, the actors did not attend the trial. Seattle’s Ann Rule attends each trial and conducts extensive interviews with people who knew both the victim and the murderer, as well as with the prosecutors and law enforcement personnel involved in the case before she writes her books. We saw her attending the Diane Downs trial in Lane County when Downs was convicted of shooting her children, and the Bradley Cunningham trial in Washington County when he was convicted of murdering his wife, a Portland attorney. Yet, we don’t get CLE credit for reading her books.

Since substantive legal seminars have become a thing of the past in our MCLE program we need to expand our thinking and open our eyes to many, many activities when accrediting these programs.

Last November a TV movie was aired about how former Portland Police Chief Charles Moose solved the D.C. Sniper case. The last Ann Rule book, entitled Heart Full of Lies was about a 2001 murder in Wallowa County. Perhaps Wallowa County D.A. Daniel Ousley could prepare written materials to supplement the book. The case contained many unique legal and evidentiary elements that could have educational value for the criminal bar.

The Ward Weaver trial is scheduled in Clackamas County this summer. He is the son of a man serving life in a California prison for killing two people and burying them in concrete on his own property. Weaver attracted nationwide attention when the bodies of two teenagers, Ashley Pond and Miranda Gaddis, were found on his property in 2002. One body was buried in concrete and the other was found in a shed. Let’s attend the trial and study how prosecutors and law enforcement handle a case involving both murder and pedophilia, and grant diversity credits to OSB members. Perhaps the bar could persuade a criminal attorney to prepare written materials. That would have more legal education value for Oregon attorneys than watching a theatrical version of a murder in another state.

Thomas C. Howser, Ashland
Mary A. Nester, Portland
Diane L. Gruber, West Linn
G. Victor Tiscornia II, Salem
Dale A. Riddle, Eugene
Velda H. Rogers, Salem
William H. Murr, Portland
Fred Kowolowski, Redmond
Christopher J. McKillop, Portland
Roger K. Harris, Lake Oswego

• • • • •

Recent Bulletin policy limits correspondence about the mandatory MCLE 'diversity' rule. I do not address that rule here. The rule exists; compliance is mandatory. A different issue is presented by authorizing 'diversity' credit. This letter inquires as to the existence of any objective standard permitting MCLE diversity credit for attending a commercial play, The Laramie Project.

Reviews (I have not seen the play) indicate the play is based on a despicable and cowardly act — the unprovoked murder of a homosexual man in Wyoming, by two miscreants who attacked him and beat him to death because of his homosexuality. The act was indisputably criminal under the law, and worse, morally evil. But the play is not the issue of this inquiry. The issue is the standard for awarding OSB/ MCLE credit to attendance at any commercial theatrical production.

The standard for awarding this MCLE credit might be irrelevant, were the implicated MCLE' diversity' requirement not mandatory, and non-compliance not sanction-laden. Governmental circumscription of speech and association, coupled with sanctioned compulsory participation in any presentation on any topic, implicates the First Amendment. Thus, the standard is here relevant. Even under the most relaxed First Amendment requirements, rational standards are required.

If certain commercial presentations are awarded MCLE credit, granting a positive sanction for attendance, is there an implicit potential for derogation of others not selected? Under what specific MCLE standard did the subject play qualify for MCLE credit? Was the standard approved by the BOG of the OSB? Were any members polled? Was the presentation judged credit worthy on an unstated standard of social ideology? If so, who is the arbiter, and how far from endorsement of propaganda — not the study of law — is that? If not, what is the standard? Do movies qualify? If so, is Mel Gibson’s recent and horrific epic worthy of MCLE credit — or should it be shunned? How about Birth of a Nation? Gone With the Wind? To Kill a Mockingbird? Urban Cowboy? The Godfather? Gangs of New York?

Depends on the standard used, it seems to me. And a useful dialogue could occur in the development of the standard.

K. William O’Connor
Medford

Inflammatory Statements
Regarding the article by Prof. Robert J. Miller, 'Agents of Empire' (Oregon Legal Heritage, February/March 2004):

Clearly, Mr. Miller has his opinion. However, does it serve open discourse and reflective thought, by a supposedly educated group, to be hurling in our faces inflammatory statements such as '... American legal doctrines and policies that ultimately robbed the indigenous peoples of just about everything they had.' (His words not mine)?

I would have welcomed a more fair and balanced discussion.

Francis J. Tepedino
San Diego, Calif.


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