Oregon State Bar Bulletin APRIL 2014
A Call to Action
Thank you for publishing Brooks Cooper’s “These Things Happen” (Parting Thoughts, February/March 2014).
1 know from personal experience that Mr. Cooper is not the first lawyer to have musical judge assignments (or lack of an assignment), and musical court dates wreak havoc with his clients’ lives and forever taint the clients’ view of our state court system. Mr. Cooper is just the first Oregon lawyer I have seen with the guts to come forward and publish his story for all of us to read and relate to.
Mr. Cooper’s letter and the message it evokes from the 1976 film “Network” (“I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore”) is a call to action. I now pledge to take the time to write up the parade of strikingly similar horreurs that clients and I have experienced over the past 10 years. I will also volunteer to act as a clearinghouse for those members of the bar who wish to share their similar stories (your report may remain anonymous, just ask) by sending your write-ups to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I have yet to decide what all to do with the collection; however, the first recipient will be the Oregon legislative committee that does the heavy lifting (sorry for that one) on the issues of funding the Oregon Judicial Department. Yes, the same committee that was shamed a few short years back into moving our judges’ pay scale a few rungs up the ladder from standing next to then cellar-dwelling Mississippi. (Adjusted for costs of living, Mississippi ranks ahead of Oregon today in judge pay).
Brent Summers, Portland
I have read the Parting Thoughts article by Brooks Cooper published in the February/March 2014 issue of the Bulletin (“These Things Happen”) and hereby respond.
First, why is Cooper so forgiving of opposing counsel? His clients required him to object to a set over. Here I thought that it was the function of a lawyer, not his clients, to consent (or not object) to a one-month set over.
Second, it might not have made any difference had the opponent not objected. We all know that a lawyer who requests a set over or continuance may not get it, whereas a judge has discretion to act.
What could Cooper have done?
Disqualifying the new judge comes to mind. Of course, that might have required a charge of prejudice that Cooper would not make (although Cooper was apparently willing to submit a sworn declaration that “I did not believe that I could be ready to adequately represent defendant without the extra 30 days to prepare” when he could be prepared). I think that if opposing counsel and I had clients who had difficulty making arrangements for trial, I and opposing counsel would make it our business to let the judge know that and to closely monitor the trial situation.
I think also that if an existing trial was running long I would have asked the judge have my case trail the existing trial, to allow my client to come to the trial late and, if there were a jury, to tell them why my client was not there. Of course, if an opposing party insisted that my client attend and then the trial were reset, I think that I would address that situation with a motion for compensation.
Peter M. Appleton, Salem
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