Oregon State Bar Bulletin — JULY 2010

Whither Law Day?
Whatever happened to Law Day USA?

Or did it happen, and I just didn’t notice because of the lack of the usual ballyhoo?

I assume there must have been the usual presidential proclamation, because, as I recall, there was a federal statute declaring May 1 as a day of celebration. But it didn’t seem to get much attention this year.

When Law Day was first declared (in 1958?) we were in the midst of the “cold war” with the Soviet Union, and it was a means of expressing our appreciation for our liberties in contrast to the Soviets’ usual display of its armed might.

But our appreciation shouldn’t be any less because of the absence of the cold war. In fact it should be even greater. Maybe it was just too tiresome to be repeating the same old platitudes, especially when crowded out by more newsworthy events. Maybe what we need is some charismatic new leadership that can impart new enthusiasm into an old idea. Something for the OSB to be thinking about — well in advance for next year.

In the meantime, how about injecting some Law Day ideas into the July 4th celebrations this year? (And I’m too old to do it.)

Randall B. Kester, Beaverton

Editor’s note: The Oregon State Bar encourages and supports county bar associations with their Law Day USA events. ABA Law Day materials and information are made available to county bars to assist them in planning and holding events in their communities. In addition, the OSB provides legal information materials for the county bars to distribute. The author may be remembering big events the OSB sponsored in the 1970s and 1980s, when staff would walk from the bar center, then located in Goose Hollow, to downtown with huge bunches of balloons to give to passersby. For a time, events were also held at Portland State University.

That Letter Shortage
Okay, I will take the bait you dangled in the water by publishing Peter Appleton’s letter in the May 2010 OSB Bulletin (“Off With Their Heads”), for the purpose of alleviating a shortage of letters to you. Since it wasn’t published in an issue dated April 1 it couldn’t have been that other purpose.

While there may be one out there, I have never heard an intellectually principled argument against the death penalty. Nor have I heard one for criminalizing (much less making them capital crimes) “drug use,” “homelessness” or “vagrancy.”

Ridding our population of “undesirables” would require first, defining what “undesirable” is in this context, and second, indentifying those who meet that definition. I can make an intellectually principled argument that there are a lot of people in this country who are here legally and are not criminals but who, nevertheless, come within a logically defensible definition of “undesirable.” Mr. Appleton’s suggestion is too modest.

If we are going to “get started,” we need to agree first on the rules that will govern the debate. I suspect if rules were articulated (as long as they didn’t include quoting the Bible) all participants will nod in agreement, but it will be demonstrated soon that the agreed rules won’t be observed in the debate, and so the debate will degenerate into a shouting match. So why start?

Gile R. Downes, Portland

P.S. Since the rules you published applicable to letters to you don’t allow it, I won’t include a pitch in this letter for my candidate for governor, even if I had one.

Sign of the Times?
Maybe it’s a sign of the times, but I couldn’t tell if Peter Appleton’s letter in the May 2010 Bulletin was parody, serious or simply an effort to get members to write letters. In any event, he should have included Shakespeare’s famous line, “The first thing we must do, is kill all the lawyers.”

David M. Audet, Hillsboro

Editor’s note: Lest anyone have misinterpreted the letter from Mr. Appleton, indeed it was intended as satire (Alice in Wonderland, anyone?). We assure our readers: No heads were lost in the process of writing or editing the letter.

In the article “ADA at 20” (June 2010), we did not have the opportunity to mention the early contributions of OSB member William (Bill) Wiswall of Eugene, who originally represented golfer Casey Martin in his legal battle to use a golf cart in PGA Tour competitions. Wiswall, a friend and neighbor of Martin, filed the original lawsuit against the PGA in federal court. The Bulletin is pleased to add this information to the record.

Source: “The Drive to Win” (Stanford magazine, May-June 1998).

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