Oregon State Bar Bulletin — APRIL 2008

We Need to Make a Difference
I finally got around to reading the December OSB Bulletin. As always, I peruse the Discipline section before putting it aside. I saw the names of two minority members. I was disappointed, not just that these were minority bar members but that neither I nor others was able to change the course of their outcomes (Form B resignations).

I take lawyering seriously and believe in the profession. I also believe that lawyers make fewer and less harmful mistakes if there other lawyers who personally care about our success, are nearby, and are willing to help. We failed here. This sad tale also reminds me that many small bar groups, like the National Bar Association-Oregon (NBA-Oregon), struggle to exist or be relevant but they are greatly needed for the safety net they provide by providing social, political and professional support for lawyers many of whom struggle like the two lost souls I mentioned. This is a plea to the OSB membership to participate in small groups like NBA-Oregon because they do make a difference.

Ernest E. Estes

Appearing in Person Should be the Exception, Not the Rule
Our profession should invoke procedural changes in the interest of energy conservation and the goals of reducing carbon emissions, oil and sustainability.

Specifically, the current dependency upon the foreign practice of physically "going to court" needs to be reduced by utilizing modern technology, so that routine court appearances will not require physical presence in a courtroom but instead will be via electronic communication unless otherwise ordered. Instead of teleconferencing being a special exception to physical appearance, it should become the normal procedure with in-person court appearances becoming the exception, upon special request. Such rethinking will result in the reduction of many thousands of unnecessary trips to the courthouse with resulting monetary savings plus favorable environmental benefits.

The present rule (UTCR 4.050) makes oral argument by telecommunication the exception. Currently, there must first be a formal written request along with a statement by the requesting person evidencing a distance of more than 25 miles from the courthouse, plus the position of opposing counsel, and if the defendant has waived in writing the right to appear at the hearing.

The present rule is cumbersome. It should be changed to automatically allow oral argument by telecommunication in the interest of conservation, reducing carbon emissions and sustainability.

Thousands and thousands of routine courtroom appearances in Oregon result in further dependence upon foreign oil, increased carbon emissions and negatively impact sustainability. It is time to realize the environmental and public policy benefits of making routine appearances and oral argument by telecommunication become the normal procedure, rather than the present complex and convoluted exception in both civil and criminal cases.

Benefits include: less traffic congestion; less parking congestion; less travel expense; less burden upon courthouse security; less carbon emissions and dependence upon foreign oil.

Accordingly, this proposal seeks to permit optional appearance by telecommunication at all court appearances as the normal procedure, save and except whatever specified exceptions require attendance in person by counsel/parties as the court may direct.

Hopefully members of the Oregon State Bar will move forward in meeting the foregoing modernization needs and sustainability challenges.

Danny Lang

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