Oregon State Bar Bulletin — OCTOBER 2013



Letters



Lesson Learned

Reading Judge Mooney’s article (“Common Sense and Humanity: A New Judge’s Perspective on the Bench,” August/September 2013) on her experiences as a new judge caused me to remember back 38 years to my early months on the district court bench in Lane County.

I was appointed to the bench with relatively few years of experience as an attorney and was far from what might be styled a “seasoned” trial lawyer.

On this particular day I was trying a simple little property damage fender-bender with a jury. Fortunately for me, the two attorneys trying the case were both “seasoned” trial attorneys as well as personal friends of mine.

The case proceeded swiftly and smoothly through jury selection, opening statements and the presentation of evidence. The parties rested their respective cases in mid-afternoon and we took a short recess to pull together jury instructions.

When the jury returned to the courtroom I duly instructed them and sent them out to deliberate. I then called for any exceptions to the instructions. At this point I noticed that the attorneys were whispering with each other and that they had rather bemused grins on their faces. I knew this was probably not a good sign.

Finally both attorneys stood and one said, “Your honor, neither of us has an exceptions to instructions but there is one thing. While neither of us wants you to do anything about this at this point, just for future reference we would prefer to be able argue our respective cases to the jury before you instruct them and send them out.” We all laughed.

Jim Hargreaves, Eugene

 

Homelessness An Economic Issue

I so appreciated Melody Finnemore’s article “The Changing Face of Homelessness” (June 2013). As someone who has worked with the homeless for several years, it was refreshing to read an article that seemed to understand most of what I’ve learned over the years about who the homeless are and the changing demographics. I currently serve on the board of one of a very few homeless transitional housing shelters that take in families in Oregon, Casa de Belen, which provides housing to homeless teens and families with teens.

Although I have used the Baldock rest area for years, I was unaware of the homeless population there. Yes, I see homeless people at the rest areas all up and down I-5, but I didn’t know there was an informal system for the Baldock area and permanent residents, so to speak.

I agree with Jamie Hazlett about the gaps and odds facing homeless youth. I notice a Medford shelter will let a young adult stay for up to 72 hours with parental permission, but a good deal of the time, the parents are part of the issue! Here in Roseburg, Casa de Belen has had youth show up whose parents have dropped them off just down the street and told them to seek shelter there. The parents have then driven away with no way to contact them!

What we have discovered is that landlords/managers of rentals — be it permanent housing or motels by the week — are reluctant to rent to single parents, in particular. The population at Casa de Belen is comprised of teens, two-parent and single-parent families, pregnant teens and teens that have recently given birth. The city of Roseburg has passed an ordinance regarding giving money to those at street corners or other intersections ­— the driver who stops may be ticketed too as a way to discourage the homeless from panhandling, for example. Cities make it hard for the homeless but do little to find creative and positive solutions to this burgeoning crisis.

Homelessness is an economic problem. Those with mental illness often cannot just go to a hospital. Douglas County does not have any inpatient mental facilities in its hospitals — the Veteran’s Administation hospital is an exception and limited in scope — nor do many (most) of the rural counties. Then there is the cost factor of hospitalization and medication. Outpatient mental health care is equally difficult to find and receive, especially for those with low incomes and in rural areas. Homelessness is a complex issue without a one-size-fits-all solution.

Diana Hadley, Law Librarian Roseburg

 

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.

Letters must be original and addressed to the Bulletin editor.

Letters must be signed. Unsigned or anonymous letters will not be published. Letters may not promote individual products, services or political candidates. All letters must comply with the guidelines of Keller v. State Bar of California (germane to the purpose of regulating the legal profession or improving the quality of the legal services).

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


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