Oregon State Bar Bulletin — AUGUST 2012
Letters

Parsing the Jones Cases
I just finished reading Linda Gouge’s letter in the most recent Bulletin (“A Win for the Defense Either Way,” July 2012) and wanted to thank her for setting the record straight.

Sometime last year someone — and I can’t remember who was — recommended to me Gerry Spence’s book about the Jones cases, Smoking Gun. I was delighted to read that two key figures in the book, Steve Lovejoy and Michele Longo, are Facebook friends of mine (and Steve is a long-time criminal defense friend and colleague).

I noticed the Bulletin article’s factual error, too: The juvenile court didn’t “convict” the Jones boy of murder; it convicted him only of the lesser-included crime of first-degree manslaughter. That conviction on the lesser crime constituted an acquittal of the murder charge, so Mr. Marquis absolutely did not secure a murder conviction over Mr. Spence’s defense.

As Gouge explained in her letter, the conviction that Mr. Marquis got was short-lived. The court of appeals, acting as second trier of fact, acquitted the Jones boy of manslaughter. In the end, Mr. Marquis got nothing from his trial with Mr. Spence. His response is nothing but an application of the principle, two wrongs make a right.

Jesse Wm. Barton, Salem

* * *

I am one of the two Oregon lawyers who, with Wyoming attorney Gerry Spence, defended Michael Jones Jr. in juvenile court and who also represented Mr. Jones on an appeal which held “that the state failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the child killed or aided and abetted the killing of the victim.” In other words, our client was found not guilty by the Oregon Court of Appeals.

Mr. Marquis is not correct in his assertion that the appeal was won by “different lawyers than had represented Michael Jones Jr. in the Lincoln County Circuit Court”; Stephen Lovejoy and I worked with Mr. Spence at the trial and built upon his good work on appeal.

Jenny Cooke, Portland

 

Let the Debate Continue
There was a suspected serial killer in Pendleton some years ago. His name is Stanley Bernson. He is serving a life sentence in Walla Walla. If he is ever paroled he will do another life sentence in Oregon. Local detectives needed to interview him but had no experience interviewing a serial killer. Bernson was suspected of killing 30 to 40 attractive young women. Fortunately for the detectives, there were two known serial killers serving time in Oregon. The detectives went to Salem and talked to them about how to interview another serial killer. Armed with their new information the detectives were able to successfully interview Bernson and later got a conviction. If these inmates in Salem had been put to death their valuable information would not have been possible.

Bernson’s lawyer, the late Dennis Hachler, said that his client used to run with Ted Bundy and, he added, Bernson made Bundy look like a choir boy. Bundy was executed in Florida in 1989 yet Bernson still lives. Equal justice?

Jack Olsen, Kennewick Senior Judge

 

The Trouble with Transitives
With regard to Suzanne Rowe’s column, The Legal Writer (“Adjective Order,” July 2012): To my native English speaking ear, the incorrect usage of the intransitive verb to lie is as offensive as the incorrect adjective order in the opening sentences.

Donna L. Lee, Portland

***

With regard to The Legal Writer’s column on “Adjective Order” in the July 2012Bulletin, I think people can differ as to whether the “black old law treatise” has a different, but also acceptable, meaning than the “old black law treatise.” But there is one thing of which I am certain. Unless that treatise has the capacities of a chicken, it was not “laying” on the table. lt was “lying” on the table.

Mary Ellen Page Farr, Portland

***

One of my favorite parts of the OSB Bulletin is the regular feature on legal writing. Being a “wordie” (which I coin as the literary equivalent of a foodie), I turn to this feature in each new issue eager to find the latest advice on how to become a better writer.

It was, therefore, with accustomed glee that I read Suzanne Rowe’s fascinating piece on “Adjective Order” (July 2012). She opened with a test, listing four sentences and asking which one used the correct word order. “Aha!” I said to myself. It must be a trick question, for each of the sentences, regardless of adjective order, described a treatise that “was laying on the table.”

No matter how a treatise might be modified by a string of adjectives, it is incapable of laying anything on the table. In my youth — far too many years ago — I was taught that to lay is a transitive verb and must have a direct object while to lie is intransitive and does not have any use for a direct object. So, you may say that a treatise was lying on the table, but you cannot say it was laying there, unless you can answer the question, “What was it laying?”

John White, Eugene

 

Suzanne Rowe Responds
Dear Readers: The silver lining to my mistake is that I learned how many careful readers of the Bulletin know the difference between lay and lie and were willing to write to the editor and me with the correction.

Somehow, in my final edit of that article, my brain scrambled the sentences that I’ve used since childhood to distinguish between lay and lie: “I lay the book on the table” and “The book is lying on the table.” I can’t explain how I muddled them to begin an article with such a horrible mistake — repeated four times!

Let me take this opportunity to invite readers to send me any writing concerns that should be covered in future articles. A list of past articles (with links) is available on the website of Oregon’s Legal Research and Writing Program at http://law.uoregon.edu/lrw/osblegalwriter/. Believe it or not, I did cover “lie/lay” back in April 2009.

 

Correction
In the article “The Best Evidence? Eyewitness Reports” (Legal Practice Tips, July 2012), the Bulletin erred in identifying the author. Paul Sundermier left the Oregon Department of Justice in November 2011 and opened a law office in Salem, limited to representation in direct and inverse condemnation cases.

 

We Love Letters
The Bulletin welcomes letters. In general, letters should pertain to recent articles, columns or other letters and should be limited to 250 words. Other things to keep in mind:

Letters must be original and addressed to the Bulletin editor. We do not reprint letters addressed to other publications, to other individuals, to whom it may concern, etc. Preference is given to letters responding to letters to the editor, articles or columns recently published in the Bulletin.

Letters must be signed. Unsigned or anonymous letters will not be published. (There are exceptions. Inquire with the editor.) Letters may not promote individual products, services or political candidates. All letters must comply with the guidelines of Keller v. State Bar of California in that they must be germane to the purpose of regulating the legal profession or improving the quality of the legal services available to the people of Oregon.

Letters may be edited for grammatical errors, style or length, or in cases where language or information is deemed unsuitable or inappropriate for publication. Profane or obscene language is not accepted.

We strive to print as many letters as possible. Therefore, brevity is important, and preference will be given to letters that are 250 words or less. Letters become the property of the Oregon State Bar. Authors of rejected letters are notified by the editor.

Send letters to: Editor, OSB Bulletin, P.O. Box 231935, Tigard, OR 97281.

 



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