Special Offer! Oregon Constitutional Law, 2013 Edition

Limited time 10% discount on the award winning Oregon Constitutional Law, 2013 Edition, when ordered by July 31st 2014. Visit our online bookstore to order your copy today.

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And/Or

By Ian Pisarcik, Legal Publications Attorney Editor

Lodged somewhere between income disparity and climate change on the list of greatest threats facing the nation is the use of and/or. I am kidding of course. But on any given afternoon you are likely to encounter one of our editors groping the wall muttering “say what you mean, say what you mean” in response to the unhinged use of this expression. It’s not just persnickety editors that have trouble with the expression¾okay, mostly it is, but the courts don’t like it either! The expression is responsible for two of the most biting lines ever written in an opinion:

[T]hat befuddling, nameless thing, that Janus-faced verbal monstrosity, neither word nor phrase, the child of a brain of someone too lazy or too dull to express his precise meaning, or too dull to know what he did mean, now commonly used by lawyers in drafting legal documents, through carelessness or ignorance or as a cunning device to conceal rather than express meaning with view to furthering the interest of their clients.

Employers’ Mut. Liab. Ins. Co. of Wisconsin v. Tollefsen, 219 Wis 434, 263 NW 376, 377 (1935).

It is one of those inexcusable barbarisms which were sired by indolence and dammed by indifference, and has no more place in legal terminology than the vernacular of Uncle Remus has in Holy Writ. I am unable to divine how such senseless jargon becomes current. The coiner of it certainly had no appreciation for terse and concise law English.

Cochrane v. Florida E. Coast Ry. Co., 107 Fla 431, 435, 145 So 217 (1932).

The problem isn’t that and/or has no meaning; it does (one or the other or both). The problem is that it is ambiguous at best and flat-out wrong at worst. As Bryan Garner puts it, “about half the time, and/or really means or; about half the time, it means and.” For example, if a sign says “no food or drink allowed,” it certainly doesn’t mean that you can have both.

So how do you avoid this problem? The answer, as the muttering editor will tell you, is to simply say what you mean. If you mean or, say or; if you mean and, say and; if you mean one or the other or both, say just that. For example, the defendant may be charged with unlawful arrest or malicious prosecution, or both.

Otherwise, you will continue to risk the wrath of judges or attorney editors, or both.

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Promoting Access to Justice with E-Books

The OSB Legal Publications department launched a new project in May that we wanted to tell you about. We have begun offering a series of Family Law e-books on Amazon.com. These e-books include information on how to find and hire a lawyer, as well as links to information about the OSB Lawyer Referral Service, legal aid services in Oregon, and the ABA page on lawyer referral services nationwide.

The purposes of this project are two-fold:

First, we want to promote access to justice for segments of the population that are underserved by the legal community for various reasons, including that they are unaware of their rights, unfamiliar with how to find an attorney, or cannot afford legal counsel at full-market rates.

Second, we want to produce some revenue, albeit a very small “some” so far, for the Legal Publications Department to offset the costs of providing BarBooks™ as a member benefit to all active members of the bar.

If you are a lawyer, these e-books can also be a great resource for your clients to help them understand the legal issues you are assisting them with and the complexity of the work you are doing for them. At only $9.99 each, they are an affordable adjunct to your legal representation of your clients. With this resource on their Kindle or other digital device, your clients can gain a better understanding of what you have already explained to them – this is especially helpful for clients who are not auditory learners and can’t retain all of the important information you have shared with them.

Each title is based on a chapter or chapters from our Family Law treatise, edited by Scott Sorensen-Jolink, Trina J. Strom, and Hon. Katherine E. Tennyson. Available titles are:

Keep your eye out for Consumer Law and Criminal Law series e-books in the future.

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Fiction for Attorneys

By Ian Pisarcik, Legal Publications Attorney Editor

As an attorney, two things are reasonably certain to occur in your lifetime: Sallie Mae will deduct an astronomically high student loan payment from your checking account and someone, somewhere will ask you if you’ve read To Kill a Mockingbird and if you were aware that John Grisham used to be a real honest-to-God practicing attorney. It is at this point that you will calmly try to explain that you read more than just legal thrillers or you will begin shouting and waving your arms like a windmill with a broken turbine. Take solace in the fact that it could be worse. You could be a doctor. Doctors are asked similar questions (insert The House of God and Michael Crichton) followed by a request to diagnose the inquirer’s mysterious malady.

In the spirit of recognizing that your interests extend beyond the narrow scope of your profession, here are ten lesser-known books worth reading that have only a tangential connection to the practice of law.

  1. Fourth of July Creek by Smith Henderson: Released in hardcover last month, Fourth of July Creek is already receiving a lot of praise. The novel tells the story of a social worker who finds a nearly feral eleven-year-old boy living in the Montana wilderness. Dependency attorneys will relate all too well.
  2. Plainsong by Kent Haruf: This novel features a plot that will also strike a chord with dependency attorneys. The story, which would be intriguing in the hands of a lesser writer, is nearly flawless in the hands of Kent Haruf (for my money, one of the best writers alive).
  3. The Hermit’s Story by Rick Bass: Acclaimed writer and environmental activist Rick Bass will appeal to environmental attorneys, lovers of wild places, and fans of powerful writing.
  4. Train Dreams by Denis Johnson: Attorneys could learn a thing or two about being concise from this epic story about a day laborer in the American west told in a mere 128 pages.
  5. The Power of the Dog by Thomas Savage: Attorneys understand the complexities of human beings and perhaps no fictional character is more complex and fully-realized than Phil Burbank in this novel that inspired the better known novella, “Brokeback Mountain,” by Annie Proulx.
  6. Canada by Richard Ford: While most people think of John Grisham and Scott Turrow when asked to name lawyers who became writers, many forget the formidable Richard Ford.
  7. Birds of a Lesser Paradise by Megan Mayhew Bergman: Megan Mayhew Bergman lives on a farm in rural Vermont with her veterinarian husband, four dogs, three cats, two goats, chickens, and a handful of rescue animals. These animals are featured in many of her stories (my favorite is about a woman who drives hundreds of miles to visit a parrot so that she might hear the voice of her deceased mother one more time). Animal attorneys rejoice!
  8. Winter’s Bone by Daniel Woodrell: A dark, gritty novel about taking the law into your own hands.
  9. In the Lake of the Woods by Tim O’Brien: The lauded author of The Things They Carried crafts a complex story about a failed politician who may have murdered his wife in his sleep. A story fit for a bar exam hypothetical.
  10. Independent People by Halldór Laxness: An epic novel set in rural Iceland, Independent People tells the story of a sheep farmer determined to live independently on a nearly unmanageable patch of land. The novel doesn’t have a great deal to do with the law, but it’s beautifully written and most attorneys have at least considered quitting their jobs and moving to a sheep farm in the middle of nowhere.

Honorable Mentions: Meditations from a Moveable Chair by Andre Dubus; Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin; Fencing the Sky by James Galvin; Where Rivers Change Direction by Mark Spragg; Winter in the blood by James Welch; and Lives of Girls and Women by Alice Munro.

They say if you want to write well you must read good writing. Perhaps reading some of this great fiction will improve your writing for that next big brief in which you must somehow keep the attention of a judge while explaining your client’s complicated fact pattern.

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Free Speech in Oregon

In celebration of Oregon Constitutional Law receiving the ACLEA Award of Outstanding Achievement in Publications, we decided to share an excerpt from that award-winning book. This excerpt is from chapter 3, Article I, Section 8, Free Speech Writ Large, by Robert M. Atkinson.  For more on this topic you can purchase a copy of Oregon Constitutional Law from the OSB Online Bookstore or log in to BarBooks™.

§3.1 INTRODUCTION

The Oregon Supreme Court’s free-speech jurisprudence under Article I, section 8, of the Oregon Constitution is unique in its analysis. Consequently, federal law of free expression or the law of other jurisdictions on that subject is unlikely to be useful in attempting to apply the Oregon Constitution’s provision. For example, federal law distinguishes among differing kinds of expression based on their content. Thus, commercial speech gets less federal constitutional protection than political expression. Compare Boos v. Barry, 485 US 312, 321, 108 S Ct 1157, 99 L Ed2d 333 (1988) (political speech), with Cent. Hudson Gas & Elec. Corp. v. Pub. Serv. Comm’n of New York, 447 US 557, 562–63, 100 S Ct 2343, 65 L Ed2d 341 (1980) (commercial speech). Under the Oregon Constitution, by contrast, all expression is equal and equally protected. Bank of Oregon v. Indep. News, Inc., 298 Or 434, 439–40, 693 P2d 35 (1985). In general, Oregon’s free speech jurisprudence is uniquely protective of expression of all kinds. Indeed, it is no exaggeration to state that—with very few and limited exceptions, which are discussed in §§ 3.4-1 to 3.4-3—all speech and expressive conduct are constitutionally protected.

The basic outline of the analysis is readily described, even if not always easily applied. But difficult questions—such as what conduct is sufficiently expressive to warrant protection—remain unresolved. This chapter is intended as a doorway into this important area. To avoid excessive length and paralyzing detail, it sticks, for the most part, to the well-traveled roads, leaving some interesting byways unexplored.

§3.2 TEXT

Article I, section 8, of the Oregon Constitution states: “No law shall be passed restraining the free expression of opinion, or restricting the right to speak, write, or print freely on any subject whatever; but every person shall be responsible for the abuse of this right.”

§ 3.3 BASIC ANALYSIS

The genesis of the modern construction of this provision is found in State v. Robertson, 293 Or 402, 649 P2d 569 (1982). Any lawyer seeking to understand and apply Article I, section 8, must be familiar with that case. The Robertson analysis categorizes laws as falling within one of three levels or categories. Vannatta v. Oregon Gov’t Ethics Comm’n, 347 Or 449, 455–56, 222 P3d 1077 (2009) (Vannatta II); City of Eugene v. Miller, 318 Or 480, 488, 871 P2d 454 (1994); State v. Plowman, 314 Or 157, 164, 838 P2d 558 (1992). Those categories focus on the terms in which the law in question is written and whether those terms refer directly to expression.

§3.3-1 Laws Focusing on the Content of Expression

At the first level of the analysis set forth in State v. Robertson, 293 Or 402, 649 P2d 569 (1982), are laws that focus on the content of speech or writing and are written in terms directed to the substance of any opinion or any subject of communication. City of Eugene v. Miller, 318 Or 480, 488, 871 P2d 454 (1994); State v. Plowman, 314 Or 157, 164, 838 P2d 558 (1992). Laws written in those terms violate Article I, section 8, “on their face” unless the scope of the restraint is confined within one of the few exceptions discussed in §§ 3.4-1 to 3.4-3. Miller, 318 Or at 495.

To illustrate, imagine that the legislature sought to protect the Oregon Supreme Court from having to decide whether a claim of error on appeal was preserved in the trial court. The most direct way to write such a law would be to state: “Do not discuss preservation of error in the Supreme Court.” That hypothetical law is quite obviously directed by its terms at the content of expression—discussions of preservation—because the statute’s text specifies what speech is forbidden. That law would, therefore, be unconstitutional on its face unless it came within one of the exceptions. The same fate would await laws specifying certain disfavored words, rather than—as in the example above—general content, and making it a crime to utter them.

§.3-2 Laws Focusing on Harms or Effects, but Directed by Their Terms at Expression

The second level of analysis set forth in State v. Robertson, 293 Or 402, 649 P2d 569 (1982), consists of laws that focus on forbidden harms or effects but, by their terms, expressly prohibit expression used to achieve those effects. To return to the example in § 3.3-1, a second approach to preventing discussion of preservation might state: “Do not annoy the Oregon Supreme Court by discussing preservation of error.” That hypothetical law is addressed by its terms to a harm or effect—annoying the court. But those terms also specify expression—discussion of preservation—as a means of bringing about that forbidden effect.

Laws in this category are analyzed for overbreadth. In very general terms, a law is overbroad when and to the extent that it purports to prohibit or regulate constitutionally protected expression. For example, a statute that prohibited alarming a person by threatening adverse consequences if the person performs some act focuses on harm—causing alarm—and specifies speech as a means of achieving that harm. That statute is overbroad to the extent that it would prohibit, for example, a physician telling a patient that she will increase her chances of having a heart attack if she does not quit smoking. See State v. Robertson, 293 Or 402, 410, 649 P2d 569 (1982);State v. Garcias, 296 Or 688, 698–99, 699 n 10, 679 P2d 1354 (1984). The decisive question would be whether the speech specified in the statute—returning to the prior example, discussion of preservation—is constitutionally protected. If it is, then the statute is overbroad because, and to the extent that, it seeks to restrain constitutionally protected speech; speech that may not be restrained.

Although the question of whether a law is directed at a harm or effect is generally determined by the law’s text, that is not inevitably the case. Rather, the court will consider the statute’s context to determine whether “the actual focus of the enactment is on an effect or harm that may be proscribed, rather than on the substance of the communication itself.” State v. Stoneman, 323 Or 536, 543, 920 P2d 535 (1996) (emphasis by the court).

§3.3-3 Laws That, Although They Are Not Directed at Expression by Their Terms, May Be Applied to Expression

The third level of the analysis set forth in State v. Robertson, 293 Or 402, 649 P2d 569 (1982), consists of laws that focus on forbidden effects without referring to expression at all. These “speech-neutral” laws cannot be challenged facially. State v. Illig-Renn, 341 Or 228, 234, 142 P3d 62 (2006). Rather, they are analyzed to determine whether the law was applied in the particular circumstances before the court so that it burdened protected expression. Because these challenges are generally based on the application of the law rather than its text, they tend to be addressed to actions of the executive rather than the legislative branch. Thus, the speaker challenging the law would be asserting that, although the law itself may be constitutional as written, the government exceeded the law’s proper scope by applying it to his or her speech. That may occur, for example, if the regulator simply misconstrues the scope of the law or applies it in a manner that is not speech-neutral. See City of Eugene v. Lincoln, 183 Or App 36, 43, 50 P3d 1253 (2002).

Here, our exemplary law (see §§ 3.3-1 to 3.3-2) would simply state: “Do not annoy the Oregon Supreme Court.” A person prosecuted criminally or subjected to civil sanctions for violating this law by addressing preservation of error would have to argue that the statute was unconstitutional as applied to his or her speech because, the person would claim, speech about preservation of error is constitutionally protected in the context of an appeal. If the person is right, the law is unconstitutional as applied to that particular expression. City of Eugene v. Miller, 318 Or 480, 488–90, 871 P2d 454 (1994), illustrates the application and analysis.

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What’s New on BarBooks™

The following material has been posted to BarBooks™ as of June 1, 2014. Chapters to books in progress are posted as they are finalized, before they are available in print.

Criminal Law
§ 12.4-1(b)(1) Speedy Trial (updated)

2014 Oregon Legislation Highlights
Now available on BarBooks™

Health Law in Oregon
PDF available for download

Oregon Real Estate Deskbook
Chapter 11:    Easements
Chapter 19:   Commercial Real Estate Finance

Oregon Formal Ethics Opinions
2005-23 — Information Relating to the Representation of a Client: Retired and Former Lawyer
2005-25 — Fee Agreements: Suspended and Disbarred Lawyers, Fees and Division of Fees
2005-39 — Lawyer as Pro Tem Judge
2005-50 — Conflicts of Interest, Current Clients: Office Sharers Representing Opposing Parties
2005-55 — Lawyer as Escrow Agent
2005-81 — Communicating with Represented Persons: Information Relating to the Representation of a Client, Second Opinions
2005-95 — Duty to Report Misconduct
2005-96 — Information Relating to the Representation of a Client: Notarial Journals 2005-117 — Trust Accounts: Funds Held in IOLTA or Non-IOLTA Account, Types of Depository Institutions
2005-129 — Competent Representation, Information Relating to the Representation of a Client: Responsibilities on Death of a Sole Practitioner
2005-133 — Attorney Fees: Financing Arrangement
2005-136 — Information Relating to the Representation of a Client: Lawyer’s Wrongful Termination Claim
2005-148 — Conflicts of Interest, Former Clients: Representing One Spouse in Dissolution After Joint Estate Planning
2005-155 — Conflicts of Interest: Multiple “Of Counsel” Relationships
2005-157 — Information Relating to the Representation of a Client: Submission of Bills to Insurer’s Third-Party Audit Service
2005-167 — Lawyer as Mediator: Attempted Fraud by One Party
2006-176 — Conflicts of Interest: Lawyer Functioning in Multiple Roles in Client’s Real Estate Transaction

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OSB Legal Pubs Wins Award!

They say that winning isn’t everything, but it sure is nice to be recognized for hard work and a commitment to quality. OSB Legal Publications has received such recognition for a book we released in 2013.

The Association for Continuing Legal Education (ACLEA) has selected Oregon Constitutional Law as the winner of its ACLEA’s Best Award of Outstanding Achievement in Publications. The physical award will be presented at ACLEA’s Annual Meeting in Boston, Massachusetts in August and put on display in the lobby of the OSB Center.

Of course, Legal Pubs couldn’t have created this highly informative and innovative book without the help of our many volunteer editorial board members (in bold) and authors: Hon. David SchumanJustice Jack LandauChin See MingC. Robert SteringerAlycia N. Sykora • Charles F. Hinkle • Robert M. Atkinson • Erin C. Lagesen • Maureen Leonard • Jonathan M. Hoffman • Jeffery J. Matthews • James N. Westwood • Jerry Lidz • Gregory A. Chaimov • Roy Pulvers • Jessica Osborne • Ed Trompke • Harvey Rogers • Harry Auerbach • Stephanie Striffler • Denise Fjordbeck • Patrick M. Ebbett • Jona J. Maukonen • Hon. Stephen K. Bushong • Erin Snyder • Les Swanson. Thanks to all of you for your hard work and dedication to this volunteer effort.

Oregon was a pioneer of the movement to interpret state constitutions independently of the U.S. Constitution. Not only does the Oregon Constitution address many of the rights protected by the federal Constitution, but it also defines many of the powers that the federal Constitution reserved for the states. Attorneys practicing in Oregon should be familiar with the provisions of the Oregon Constitution and the appellate courts’ interpretations of those provisions. This first edition of Oregon Constitutional Law is designed for exactly that purpose. It covers many of the rights protected by article I, Oregon’s Bill of Rights. It also discusses the initiative and referendum processes, financing of state government, taxation, and home rule. More importantly, it includes practical advice about how to litigate state constitutional issues. This book is an essential resource for every Oregon practitioner.

Oregon Constitutional Law is available on BarBooks™ to all Oregon Bar members or for purchase in print at the Bar’s online bookstore.

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Oregon Formal Ethics Opinions – 2014 Supplement Available Now for Preorder

Visit our online bookstore at http://www.osbar.org/store/pub/pubcat.asp?action=view&cat=Ethics to preorder Oregon Formal Ethics Opinions, 2014 Supplement, today!

The 2014 supplement of Oregon Formal Ethics Opinions includes the full text to the most recent version of the Oregon Rules of Professional Conduct, and updated tables, subject index, and opinions citator, PLUS one new 2013 opinion and 17 opinions revised to conform to the new rules:

One new opinion:

  • Ethics Op. 2013-189    Accessing Information about Third Parties Through a Social Media Networking Website

And 17 revised:

  • Ethics Op. 2005-23    Information Relating to the Representation of a Client: Retired and Former Lawyer
  • Ethics Op. 2005-25    Fee Agreements: Suspended and Disbarred Lawyers, Fees and Division of Fees
  • Ethics Op. 2005-39    Lawyer as Pro Tem Judge
  • Ethics Op. 2005-50    Conflicts of Interest, Current Clients: Office Sharers Representing Opposing Parties
  • Ethics Op. 2005-55    Lawyers as Escrow Agents
  • Ethics Op. 2005-81    Communicating with Represented Persons: Information Relating to the Representation of a Client, Second Options
  • Ethics Op. 2005-95    Conflicts of Interest: Duty to Report Disciplinary Rule Violations
  • Ethics Op. 2005-96    Information Relating to the Representation of a Client: Retired and Former Lawyer
  • Ethics Op. 2005-117    Trust Accounts: Funds Held in IOLTA or Non-IOLTA Account, Types of Depository Institutions
  • Ethics Op. 2005-129    Competent Representation, Information Related to the Representation of a Client: Responsibilities on Death of a Sole Practitioner
  • Ethics Op. 2005-133    Attorney Fees: Financing Arrangement
  • Ethics Op. 2005-136    Information Relating to the Representation of a Client: Lawyer Wrongful Termination Claim
  • Ethics Op. 2005-148    Conflicts of Interest, Former Clients: Representing One Spouse in a Dissolution After Joint Estate Planning
  • Ethics Op. 2005-155    Conflicts of Interest: Multiple “Of Counsel” Relationships
  • Ethics Op. 2005-157    Information Relating to the Representation of a Client: Submission of Bills to Insurer’s Third-Party Audit Service
  • Ethics Op. 2005-167    Lawyer as Mediator: Attempted Fraud by One Party
  • Ethics Op. 2005-176     Conflicts of Interest: Lawyer Functioning in Multiple Roles in Client’s Real Estate Transaction
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Appellate Oral Argument – the Judges’ Perspective

Excerpted from Appeal and Review: Beyond the Basics (OSB Legal Pubs 2014), chapter 4 Effective Oral Advocacy.

By William F. Gary, Hon. Joel S. DeVore, Hon. Erica L. Hadlock, and Hon. Jack L. Landau

To learn more about advanced appellate advocacy tips and practices, go to BarBooks™ to view this completed book, or preorder your print copy of this handy reference from our online bookstore.

The Judges’ Goals for Oral Argument

On any court, judges hold a wide variety of views about the utility of oral argument. Some judges say it rarely influences how they vote to decide a case; others report that it affects their decisions in a significant minority of cases argued. Still other judges believe that argument rarely shifts their vote on the ultimate outcome, but acknowledge that how the parties frame the issues during oral argument often influences the way in which the judges write opinions. What happens during a court of appeals argument certainly can affect the court’s decision whether to affirm a lower court’s or agency’s decision without published opinion (AWOP) or to write an opinion in the case.

Some common themes do emerge in conversations with judges about what they hope to accomplish during oral argument. Judges view argument as their sole opportunity to question the advocates—to engage in a dialogue with the lawyers instead of merely being on the receiving end of the lawyers’ monologues. Because of that, and because 15 minutes go by so quickly, judges may not allow lawyers much time to deliver prepared arguments—which too frequently are only variations on the monologues already delivered in the briefs—before the judges start asking questions.

A primary goal that judges have in questioning lawyers is to clarify what the parties are arguing, in the most basic sense. Before the judges start evaluating the merits of the parties’ arguments, they need to understand what those arguments are. For example, the judges want to know exactly which trial-court rulings the appellant is challenging, and on precisely what grounds. If the appellant’s brief is vague, ambiguous, or internally inconsistent in that respect, judges are likely to ask clarifying questions before they address the substance of the appellant’s arguments.

Court of appeals judges also may not immediately dive into the merits of a case if the briefs have not made clear what issues are properly before the court, and by what standards the appellate judges will review the lower court’s rulings on those issues. If the briefs leave the court with questions about whether arguments were preserved for appeal, or what standards of review apply, judges are likely to use argument time to clarify those points.

In addition, court of appeals judges may ask questions related to their general desire to resolve cases in the most straightforward way possible, without addressing more issues than is necessary (a desire that is grounded both in jurisprudential principles and in workload concerns). Judges sometimes refer to this as looking for the “first principled door out” of a case. Accordingly, judges may ask questions aimed at clarifying how the various arguments presented in a party’s brief relate to each other. Essentially, the judges are trying to picture the flowchart that shows the relationships between all of those arguments, with the hope of discerning the simplest path from one end of the chart (the assignments of error) to the other (disposition of the appeal). If those analytic pathways are not clearly described in the brief, the judges probably will ask questions on that point.

Beyond clarifying the contours of the parties’ arguments and how they interrelate, judges view oral argument as a time to explore the strengths and weaknesses of those arguments. By asking probing questions, the judges intend to give each lawyer an opportunity to make the best case possible for his or her client. Judges may want to know how a party’s arguments can be reconciled with (or distinguished from) existing case law, or if the party can prevail only if some precedent is overruled. In a case that centers on statutory interpretation, judges might ask how a lawyer’s proposed construction of a particular provision makes sense in the context of the statutory scheme as a whole. Or a judge might ask a hypothetical question designed to reveal whether a lawyer’s argument remains sound when pushed to its logical conclusion. In all of those circumstances, the judge’s goal is to make sure that the lawyers have been confronted with any potential weaknesses in their arguments and have had a fair chance to respond.

Practice Tip: Because the judges will have read the briefs before argument, experienced oral advocates generally spend little time repeating the points they’ve already made in their briefs. Instead, they focus on responding to their opponent’s arguments. Indeed, some of the most compelling oral arguments are those in which the lawyers start by acknowledging their opponents’ strongest points and then making their best arguments in response.

Judges also use oral argument as an opportunity to explore the implications of the positions that the parties advocate. In resolving a case, judges must decide whether to publish an opinion (instead of AWOP a case in which the lower court’s judgment will be affirmed) and, if they do issue a written opinion, must consider how that published discussion of the law will affect future cases. Those concerns often prompt judges to ask big-picture questions of the lawyers that go beyond the details of the particular case at issue. Thus, if a lawyer’s argument is focused mostly on the pertinent facts and the outcome the lawyer advocates, a judge might ask the lawyer what legal principle would lead to that desired result. Indeed, some judges will ask lawyers to articulate the rules of law they think the court should announce in its opinions.

In addition to helping judges better understand the parties’ arguments and their implications, oral argument also gives appellate judges an opportunity to get the benefit of their colleagues’ thoughts. Because the court of appeals sits in three-judge panels, each judge is able to listen to exchanges that might not have occurred if that judge were the only one asking questions. Many judges go into argument with the goal of breaking out of any “tunnel vision” or “bubbled thinking” they may have developed around the issues in a case.

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Searching for Clues in The Bluebook

By Ian Pisarcik, Legal Publications Attorney Editor

I recently stumbled across Derrick Muller’s blog post, “Was Barack Obama’s Greatest Contribution to Legal Scholarship the Bluebook?” The post posits the following three facts: (1) Harvard Law Review members generally lead the effort to revise The Bluebook, (2) The fifteenth edition of The Bluebook was released in 1991, and (3) Barack Obama was the president of the Harvard Law Review from 1990 to 1991. The fifteenth edition includes massive revisions (the book expanded from 272 to 366 pages). While it is unclear whether the president’s contributions were negligible or significant, Muller’s blog post managed to spark my interest in the history of this often shuddersome book.

The first edition of The Bluebook was published in 1926 by Erwin Griswold, a second-year law student at Harvard, and consists of 26 pages. There is no index and the book devotes two pages to identifying symbols for hand editing manuscripts. The cover isn’t even blue; it is a dull grayish-brown color reminiscent of efflorescence-riddled concrete or perhaps the mouth of the Willamette River. The first line in the first edition states: “This pamphlet does not pretend to include a complete list of abbreviations or all the necessary data as to form.” The current nineteenth edition, coming in at 511 pages (36 of which make up the index), suggests The Bluebook may have strayed from this original intent.

As for those who wish to look for details in the pages of the fifteenth edition, like patterns in tea leaves, foreshadowing the future path of the president, you may want to start with the fact that South Texas College of Law Professor James Paulson called the fifteenth edition the first manual with a “social conscience.” Paulson noted that the fifteenth edition added a substantial number of citation examples written by women, including titles on topics such as feminism, sexual orientation, reproductive rights, and apartheid. You may want to turn to page 103 and note the newly added and apropos (in light of a recent executive order) citation example: Women’s Bureau, U.S. Dep’t of Labor, Leaflet No. 55, A Working Woman’s Guide to Her Job Rights. Given The Bluebook’s current pace, curious minds will have to employ a team of researchers to find such details if another Harvard law review member is ever elected president of the United States.

* Those who may be interested can find full PDF copies of the first 15 edition of The Bluebook here.

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