Oregon State Bar Bulletin — FEBRUARY/MARCH 2004

Letters

A True Steward
James B. Castles was truly a 'Steward of the West.' His legal career is well known to business lawyers. The memoir by John Castles in the December OSB Bulletin highlights Jim Castles’ outstanding charitable work which is less well known. He was especially interested in supporting educational enterprises. Some years ago I invited him to tour the museum above the Willamette Falls in Oregon City operated by the Clackamas County Historical Society. After viewing the exhibits he called me and said that he believed good museums are truly educational institutions. Since that time the Murdock Trust has supported various educational projects at the Museum.

Jim Castles was also open to change. For some years because of a misunderstanding he did not want the Murdock Trust to support the Boy Scouts organization. At a CLE in Kalispell I had a chance to talk to him about the problem. He listened to my viewpoint as a long time supporter and beneficiary of Scouting. The next year the Murdock Trust started helping with some Scout projects.

It was a privilege to have known him.

John C. Caldwell
Lake Oswego

A 50-year Tradition
Regarding Stephanie Midkiff’s article ('WORSA vs. ORS') in the January 2003 issue:

The Office of the Legislative Counsel is pleased that practitioners will have available to them whatever versions of the statutes are most useful. Some readers may find West’s research links worth having to flip to pocket parts to find amendments to laws. Others may prefer to support Oregon’s 50-year tradition of providing the full text of statutes at cost. Purchasers of West’s product should be aware that they put that tradition at risk. If enough people buy West’s statutes, Oregon won’t have enough money to put out the ORS. Oregon’s independent revision and publication of statutes protects the public from the much higher prices charged in states where West is the sole source of statutes.

We are pleased that Ms. Midkiff found parts of the official ORS index better than West’s and other parts equal to West’s. We are aware, however, that some readers find the official ORS index to be less useful than they would like. We are building a new indexing system and readers should see marked improvement beginning with the 2005 ORS.

The office offers specialty publications, such as the Criminal Code of Oregon and the annotated Oregon Family Law Code, that are less expensive alternatives to purchasing single volumes of the ORS. Information about these products is available at www.lc.state.or.us.

West is not 'making its annotated code available before the official version comes out.' The 2003 official full-text ORS will be available before West’s 2003 pocket parts.

Gregory A. Chaimov
Legislative Counsel, Salem

Time for Justice
You printed a letter from Peter Appleton under the banner, 'All Are Responsible' (Letters, January 2004). Mr. Appleton’s point was that it should not solely be the responsibility of lawyers to provide services to those who can’t afford them and I would generally agree with that proposition.

It used to be the saying that 'possession is nine-tenths of the law.' We can now say that process and procedure is at least nine-tenths of the law, and it is even difficult for lawyers to find their way through the morass. We are all responsible for this mess, particularly us lawyers and judges. What lawyer doesn’t welcome the opportunity to decide a procedural question that might decide the case? How much time do we spend on process and procedure and how much on substantive issues and 'justice?'

In the same issue of the Bulletin, Jad Lemhouse makes a plea for more use of Justice of the Peace Courts (Parting Thoughts, 'Back to the Future'). And why not? Why not simplify the process and procedures? What if we spent a fraction of the time we spend on figuring out existing procedures and inventing new ones, working on systems designed by geniuses to be used by idiots? If we are as smart as we think we are, we can do it easily.

And if more people could be responsible for themselves we wouldn’t face such an avalanche of need. We might not even need all of us lawyers.

John M. Wight
Portland

The ORS Temptation
Oregon lawyers are indebted to Stephanie Midkiff for her 'fair and balanced' comparison of ORS and West’s new version of the Oregon statutes in the January 2004 Bulletin ('WORSA vs. ORS'). WORSA is a handsome set for office shelves; the volumes are a handy size; it offers copious annotations integrated with the text of the statutes and written by the highly professional West editorial staff, as well as other bells and whistles which may (or may not) be useful–like references to other West products.

All these features may tempt lawyers to purchase the West set over ORS. The price seems to be a bargain: 47 hard bound volumes for $425 works out to a little over $9 per volume, so cheap by law book standards that you may wonder how West can do it. The answer is that they can’t, and probably won’t for very long. West statute sets in other states are far more expensive. For example, West’s Maine Revised Statutes Annotated is currently priced at $935 (39 volumes). Like Oregon, Maine has a biennial legislature. Updating the Maine statutes cost $754 in 2001; $948 in 2002. West’s Colorado Revised Statutes Annotated (49 volumes) goes for $1,735. Updates were $871 in 2000; $1,171 in 2001. West’s Connecticut General Statutes Annotated (49 volumes) were $1,633; updates were $1,122 in 2001, $1,328 in 2002. West’s statute sets for larger states are even more expensive.

The only prices comparable to WORSA appear to be in states in which the set is new. For example, West’s Code of Georgia Annotated (64 volumes), introduced like WORSA in 2003, is now at $600. My guess is that these are both 'introductory' prices. I think that we can anticipate that they will escalate rapidly, and that updating WORSA will soon be several times the cost of keeping ORS current. Oregon lawyers who are considering WORSA should consider carefully what those bells and whistles are worth to them. (Prices are from Kendall F. Svengalis, Legal Information Buyer’s Guide & Reference Manual, 2003).

Joe Stephens
Portland


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