|Oregon State Bar Bulletin JUNE 2007|
Extremism in Defense of Liberty
I commend the Bulletin for its fine article entitled Uncharted Waters (April 2007), relating the experiences of Oregon lawyers volunteering their time to represent Guantanamo detainees. Their experiences harken back to the civil rights era when Oregon lawyers traveled to the South.
These are, indeed, dangerous times, fostering dangerous talk. The absurdity of this administration’s talk — that we must throw away the Bill of Rights in order to protect us from terrorists — has made our country far less secure than we were before 9/11.
Forty-three years ago, Sen. Barry Goldwater offered words that have particular poignancy now: "Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice; moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue." Helping to restore and preserve civil liberties in the context of the war on terror is no vice. Stripping our courts of the process which is due criminal defendants is certainly no virtue.
Philip F. Schuster II,
Why Publish Tabloid Articles?
I write in response to the article "Uncharted Waters" (April 2007).
My reaction to reading the article is why? Why does the Oregon Bar journal publish tabloid style articles and gives them front-page status? Why does the Oregon Bar journal publish a one-sided and partisan report regarding open cases? Why is there no mention that the Center for Constitutional Rights is an organization with an extreme left-wing agenda? Why do my bar dues pay for political propaganda?
Please add my name to the list of American lawyers who are offended by the actions of the United States at the Guantanamo Bay Detention Center. I cringe to think of it being denominated as a "U.S. military base."
Words are inadequate to express the mounting horror and perfect disgust I experienced while reading Ms. Finnemore’s recent article.
Only a simile can approach adequacy: At best, the United States’ detention policies resemble the peoples’ courts of Robespierre, Stalin and Mao, and at worst, mimic Idi Amin and the Klu Klux Klan.
Yet Another View
I found Ms. Finnemore’s laudatory story about Oregon’s criminal defense lawyers timely ("Uncharted Waters," April 2007). Their efforts to find justice for those detained in Guantanamo for allegedly aiding or being terrorists who sought to kill our country’s soldiers and citizens is very informing.
As an Oregon prosecutor since 1976, I am wondering when the OSB Bulletin editors will publish an equally comprehensive and complementary story about Oregon’s federal prosecutors who brought to justice the persons in our state convicted of conspiring to levy war against the United States.
Frank R. Papagni Jr.,
Bar Card Works Just Fine
This letter is in response to Larry Peterson’s letter to the editor, titled "Bar Card With Meaning."
First, my bar card has meaning because it identifies me as a member of a profession I continue to be proud of.
Second, as an attorney who regularly practices both criminal and family law I am grateful for the court security staff that protect the courthouses I enter. Like most attorneys, I sometimes encounter abusive, dangerous, disgruntled or mentally ill clients or ex-spouses. I am happy to know they have been screened through court security, and that court security officers are there if I need them. I am fortunate to practice in a smaller community where court security knows most of the attorneys. However, I am not insulted in the least when a new court security staff member who does not know me asks to look through my purse or briefcase.
I too have been screened by the Oregon State Bar and possessed a military security clearance until my retirement. Neither of those clearances made me too important to bother with security, either in courthouses or airports.
I am grateful for what Mr. Peterson calls the "laborious security procedures" and the good-natured officers who put up with the many egotistical attorneys who take themselves too seriously and think themselves too important to be bothered by court security procedures.
Next time you pass through court security, don’t forget to smile and say thanks.
Lori A.G. Hellis,
Guarding the Shibboleths
I disagree with Ms. Rowe’s article in the April 2007 edition ("Pairs That Puzzle"), specifically her analysis of the difference between which and that. She writes: "Although the distinction between which and that is about to go the way of the dodo, the distinction does have a difference, which we curmudgeons guard faithfully." She describes the distinction as follows: "Which is nonrestrictive, which means it adds information that is interesting but not critical to the meaning of the sentence. That is restrictive. The information following that is critical; omitting the information may confuse the meaning of the sentence."
Her characterization does not square with my experience. Turning to Fowler’s Modern English Usage, I found a general appreciation, and even admiration, for the distinction that Ms. Rowe trumpets, followed by this comment: "Some there are who follow this principle now; but it would be idle to pretend that it is the practice either of most or of the best writers." Hmmm, so why guard it faithfully?
Turning to another authority (A Dictionary of Contemporary American Usage, by Bergen Evans and Cornelia Evans, 1957), I found an interesting discussion of how which and that have been used over the centuries and then the comment: "The distinction between restrictive that and descriptive which or who is an invention of the grammarians and a very recent one.... Anyone who likes to do so may limit his own that’s to defining clauses but he must not read this distinction into other men’s writing, and he must not expect his readers to recognize it in his own. It is sometimes necessary to show that a clause is purely descriptive and not defining, but this cannot be accomplished by using the word who or which. In order to make this fact clear, the descriptive clause must be set off by a pair of commas, which have the effect of parenthesis marks, or the sentence must be recast."
If Ms. Rowe delights in guarding the shibboleths of similarly minded "grammarians," have at it. But in the future she should acknowledge when her personal brand of persnicketyness is neither the majority view nor the view of our best writers.
Stuart C. Harris,
I notice that the design of the Oregon State Bar Bulletin has changed. I am certain that you put a great deal of thought and planning into the changes.
It is very attractive, but the font used in articles is difficult to read. As baby boomers age, our vision is very likely to decline as a developmental process.
I am hopeful that you can and will reconsider your primary text font. Thank you for your consideration of my suggestion.
Helen C. Dillon,
Editor’s note: How about it, readers? Is the Bulletin body typeface too small? Too big? Just right? Let us know at email@example.com. We’ll report the results in a future issue.