An Idea Blooms
I wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed Ronald Talney’s article, “A Garden-Variety Lawyer” (Parting Thoughts, June 2014). Before law school, I had a degree in botany and worked professionally for many years as an organic gardener. So I suppose it was natural for me to turn out to be a “garden-variety lawyer,” practicing elder, consumer and other public interest law.
Thanks, Mr. Talney, for introducing me to the concept. Enjoy your retirement!
Dona Marie Hippert, Portland
An Odd Boast
In the last month’s edition of the Bulletin, a law firm advertisement caught my eye for its claim that a partner enjoyed a long history of “pugnacious” litigation for clients. That struck me as an odd (and unprofessional) boast. I looked up the definition of the term “pugnacious” to verify my impression. I think that my initial reaction was correct.
According to Merriam-Webster Online, to be “pugnacious” is to have a “quarrelsome or combative nature : truculent.” Listed synonyms included aggressive, argumentative, bellicose, belligerent, confrontational, quarrelsome, truculent, warlike.
I hope that it was some public relations person and not a lawyer who selected the term — or if a lawyer used it, that lawyer erroneously believed it merely meant exercising zealous advocacy. An Oregon litigator (with an eye to professionalism standards) should certainly not seek to be confrontational, belligerent, quarrelsome or truculent — that is, pugnacious. Nor, for that matter, should an Oregon litigator be careless in a choice of words.
Leslie M. Roberts, Multnomah County Circuit, Portland
What Would the Legal Writer Do?
Right after last month’s Legal Writer column criticizing the use of nonparallel sentence structure (“Avoiding Awkwardness,” June 2014), the next Bulletin story (“Preparing for Pot”) highlighted this quote from the National Institute on Drug Abuse: “About 11 percent of marijuana users across the U.S. are dependent upon the drug, compared to 23 percent who depend on heroin and other opioids, 17 percent who depend on cocaine, 15 percent who depend on cigarettes or alcohol and 32 percent who depend on nicotine.”
Twenty-three percent of marijuana users are dependent on heroin, reading this literally, which can’t be right. Failure to use parallel structure can indeed mangle a meaning. Too bad the Legal Writer didn’t use that exquisite example and the National Institute didn’t read her article before publishing its gaffe. Lumping cigarettes and alcohol together (while treating nicotine as a separate category) poses a faulty parallelism of a different type; maybe the Legal Writer can clean that up next month.
Mark Lansing, Grants Pass
Encourage the Truth
I have learned of a seizure of 60 pounds of cocaine from a car searched by a drug-sniffing dog following a “routine traffic stop.” Perhaps drug searches should be legal, based on anonymous tips, but to use “routine traffic stop” as a reason is a ludicrous charade. When is the last time that you or someone you know had his/her car searched by a drug-sniffing dog as part of a “routine traffic stop”?
Law enforcement officers should be encouraged to tell the truth about why a car is searched, regardless of the consequences, not use lies as justification for a search.
Peter Appleton, Salem
A recent Oregon Legal Heritage column (“Maverick of the Senate,” July 2014), misidentified Wayne Morse’s 1944 opponent for United States Senate. Morse’s opponent was Rufus C. Holman (not Holmes). A hat tip to Senior Judge Hollie Pihl for setting the record straight.
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