Privilege is Necessary
SLAPP (strategic lawsuit against public participation) legislation, HB
2460, I was told that the Oregon State Bar appeared at the legislative
committee hearing and opposed a bill that would have granted privilege
to persons testifying in land-use matters pending before the municipal
bodies. The information I received indicated that representatives of the
bar reported that there was no need for this legislation.
my experience is unique, but I have seldom found my life to be so. In
the last six years, I am aware of at least six instances in Florence,
Ore., where citizens opposing development projects were threatened with
lawsuits. On at least two occasions I offered pro bono defense, hoping
this would enable the citizens to continue participating in the public
process. I must confess that those offers were not entirely altruistic.
Each threat of litigation was so patently ridiculous and obviously meant
to intimidate, that I was confident I could obtain dismissal.
privilege such as this exists in numerous parts of our legal system. For
example, reports of child abuse to law enforcement agencies by members
of the Oregon State Bar are privileged. People do sometimes 'lie'
and abuse these privileges. If that is a significant concern within the
context of the proposed legislation, perjury can be added as a sanction.
Perjury charges must be approved by a prosecutor, but the wealthy and
powerful cannot institute perjury charges to intimidate.
hope my information about the bar is not correct.
like to commend the performance of a member of the Oregon State Bar, Robert
Altman. Mr. Altman went considerably above and beyond to assist a member
of my family in a time of extreme financial and emotional distress.
getting into specifics, the matter involved Bob's retention about three
years ago to handle a bankruptcy. While the financial situation was distressing
enough by itself, conditions were compounded when the client was subsequently
diagnosed with terminal cancer and died five months later, leaving his
spouse with no insurance benefits and very little in assets.
continued to serve his client's spouse with full knowledge that he may
not see a penny for his work. An emphasis should be placed on 'serve'
- Bob not only provided needed legal assistance, but was readily accessible
and eager to help. He truly approached this matter with a level of compassion
rarely seen these days in any field. Mr. Altman had no prior acquaintance
with his client and acted solely on a desire to assist a fellow human
being in need.
offers many thanks to Bob for his effort and hopes that acknowledgement
of his actions encourages those within and without the OSB to respond
accordingly when encountering a similar situation.
to Every Story
2001 bar Bulletin proved again that every fact has at least two
sides. Henry Kane's letter to the editor about Bush v. Gore states:
'This writer drafted and lobbied Oregon's first election recount
law through the 1955 legislature and does not know of any recount that
changed the outcome of an election.' Only 35 pages later, Jerry Banks
tells a great war story of how a 1962 recount did change the outcome of
an election for sheriff in Columbia County, and how good lawyering nevertheless
allowed the will of the electors to prevail. It is a good story, which
would otherwise have been lost in the archives of the trial courts.
article is also a reminder that media circuses surrounding contested election
are nothing new, even if a Columbia County media circus in the simpler
times of 1962 meant a play by play radio broadcast hosted by Tom McCall.
Why? Voters are interested in the integrity of the electoral process,
because it is essential to democracy that the outcome of elections can
be trusted, regardless of who is elected.