Oregon State Bar Bulletin AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2013
Bill Proposed by Military and Veterans Section Becomes Law
On June 6, the governor signed into law Senate Bill 124, which was proposed by the OSB Military and Veterans Law Section. This bill creates a new mitigating factor that explicitly authorizes courts at sentencing to consider military service as a mitigating factor. It does so by amending ORS 137.090(2) to state: “(2) In determining mitigation, the court may consider evidence regarding the defendant’s status as a service member as defined in ORS 135.881.”
SB 124 carries both an emergency clause and a retroactivity clause. Consequently, it took effect on June 6 and applies to all cases not previously sentenced, regardless of their crime-commission dates. The “substantial and compelling” requirements of ORS 137.671(1); OAR 213-008-0001 apply in using the factor in felony cases. But in felony cases, the factor may be used in conjunction with preexisting Mitigating Factors B, C and I.
Resolutions Due Sept. 19 for Nov. 1 House of Delegates Meeting
The annual OSB House of Delegates meeting takes place Nov. 1 at the OSB Center in Tigard. Septempber 17 is the deadline for resolutions for the House of Delegates agenda, which will be distributed on Oct. 11 and will appear on the bar’s website at www.osbar.org/leadership/hod/meeting.html. Then, the second round of House of Delegates regional meetings will take place Oct. 15-17. At these meetings the delegates will review the proposed resolutions and determine if they want to take a position at the House of Delegates meeting in November.
Visit www.osbar.org/leadership/hod for more detailed information about the OSB House of Delegates.
Oregon Law Foundation Seeks Board Members
The Oregon Law Foundation is looking for lawyers to serve on its board. The foundation supports access to justice in Oregon by giving funding to organizations that provide legal services to persons of lesser means. Directors attend four board meetings a year, as well as various committee meetings.
Interested persons should send a brief resume by Sept. 30 to Judith Baker, Oregon Law Foundation, P.O. Box 231935, Tigard, OR 97281 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Free Fee Arbitration and Mediation CLE Oct. 10
The Oregon State Bar will host a free Fee Arbitration and Mediation CLE program Oct. 10 for volunteer panelists with the OSB Fee Arbitration and Mediation Program.
Experienced arbitrators and mediators will discuss theory and provide practical advice to panelists. The program will also include ethics and access to justice components. This special event will be held from 1-4:30 p.m. at the OSB Center in Tigard.
To register for the CLE or volunteer to become a panelist, email Cassandra Stich at email@example.com. The program has been approved two general or practical skills MCLE credits, one access-to-justice and one-half credit of ethics.
Notice of New Rule
On Aug. 6, the Oregon Supreme Court approved new Bar Rule of Procedure 7.1 (suspension for failure to respond in a disciplinary investigation). When an attorney fails without good cause to timely respond to a request from disciplinary counsel for information or records, or fails to respond to a subpoena issued pursuant to the rules of procedure, disciplinary counsel may petition the Disciplinary Board for an order immediately suspending the attorney until such time as the attorney responds or complies with the subpoena. The petition must show the efforts undertaken by disciplinary counsel to obtain the attorney’s response or compliance. The attorney may file a response with the Disciplinary Board chairperson.
Any suspension under the rule is an administrative suspension and not a disciplinary suspension. Upon the filing of a compliance affidavit showing compliance or a good-faith basis for not complying, the attorney shall be reinstated.
Rule 7.1 is available for review on the Oregon State Bar website. Comments on the new rule may be sent to the supreme court. Questions may be directed to disciplinary counsel at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Oregon eCourt Update: A Steady Build of Online Court Services
The Oregon eCourt Program’s build of a statewide online court system is now providing eServices in eight Oregon counties. Starting with 2012 launch in Yamhill County Circuit Court of Odyssey (the software that powers the components of Oregon eCourt), there are now five courts up and running with the Oregon eCourt Case Information system (OECI) and eFiling services. Clatsop, Columbia and Tillamook counties implemented Odyssey and OECI this August and will open eFiling in late October.
Oregon eCourt begins in each court with implementation of Odyssey software and two outward facing components: OECI and File & Serve. OECI is typically available within two weeks, and the File and Serve component is deployed within 45 days, allowing bar members to electronically file and serve pleadings. Online access to court documents starts in all OECI courts by late 2013 when OJD will pilot online document access with designated government users. Access for bar members will occur pending the outcome of discussions set for the February 2014 legislative session on adjustments to document access fees and eFiling fees currently charged to attorneys. (eFiling transaction fees will be dropped Oct. 1, 2013, when temporary increases in statutory case filing fees take effect pending reviews of supplementary funding for eFiling by the Legislature during the February 2014 session.) Once available, online document access will be limited to documents received by the court after the OECI launch, with restricted access in some case types. Document access for the general public takes place in early 2014.Additional Oregon eCourt functionality is scheduled for installation through 2016, including software and application upgrades and new portal capabilities that will support online document access, D.A. criminal case initiation and increased search features.
Oregon eCourt’s steady successes and ongoing support from the bar, Oregon’s business community and court advocates in the legislature helped convince the 2013 legislature to fund implementations through 2015. By the end of the current budget period in 2015, more than half of Oregon’s circuit courts will be online with Odyssey, OECI, eFiling and online document access.
Oregon State Bar Forms New Section: Military and Veterans Law
By Christopher Kent
In November 2012, in response to the increasing legal needs of Oregon servicemembers and their families, the Oregon State Bar Board of Bar Governors authorized the establishment of a new section for Military and Veterans Law.
This is not the first time that the bar has had a military and veterans law section. An earlier Military & Veterans Affairs Section was active for many years but was abolished in 2000 following years of declining enrollment.
On Sept. 11, 2001, the world changed and America has been at war since that time. As a result, our state has seen a dramatic increase in the number of servicemembers and veterans who need legal assistance. In addition, federal law changes have opened the door to private bar involvement in legal work for veterans. As a section, our numbers are still small but growing, and we invite you to join us in promoting and serving the legal needs of those who have served for the benefit of us all.
There are no records of the number of Oregonians who have served or are currently serving in active duty. There are records of deployments of the Oregon National Guard and reserve units in the state. Since 2001, Oregon National Guard and reserve units have deployed many times. Presently, we are facing five active-duty deployments from Oregon’s 41st Infantry Brigade Combat Team. These will include a deployment of nearly 1,500 soldiers in 2014, which is the state’s second largest deployment since World War II. Again, this does not include Oregonians already on active duty.
The fact of the matter is that America has now been at war longer than any other time in its history. The total number of troops deployed to combat areas in the last decade numbers in the hundreds of thousands. These serial deployments create all kinds of issues for our legal system: criminal prosecutions involving veterans, divorce, employment discrimination, lender abuse and of course disability claims. On the disability claims side alone, there are over 600,000 back-logged claims with the Veterans Administration. Not a week goes by that a major newspaper doesn’t write a piece about the delay and the injustice facing service members with disability claims.
The mission of this section is to provide more legal help to Oregon’s servicemembers and their families, help train lawyers in the claims and other areas, and lobby the legislature for appropriate changes to statutes effecting service-members. One of our immediate concerns is to increase the number of experienced practitioners who could help represent Oregon veterans in the claims process.
While a service member is away on deployment, he or she often leaves behind a spouse, children and other family members with legal needs that have arisen as a direct result of the deployed spouse. These families frequently need legal help.
The first order of business is to get the word out about this section and attract new members. You do not need to be a veteran or servicemember to join this section. (In fact, a concern for the issues and desire to help is all that is necessary.)
If you are interested in joining this section, go to the bar’s website, https://www.osbar.org/store/db/dbhome.asp.