The Oregon State Bar II
Bill Long 12/28/07
My "Hearing" Before the Continuing Legal Education Comm.
I probably should have given up my try to get CLE credits for my 15 hours of legal research and writing for my review of the biography of Gus Solomon, who served from 1950-87 as US District Court Judge for the District of Oregon, immediately upon picking up the "tone" of the conference call. First, there was a lawyer in line "ahead of me" trying to get CLE credit for four hours of work in teaching a unit of the Classroom Law Project on employment law. The CLP is a very useful tool to introduce young people to the way that law affects the lives of us all. Though the man's teaching activities, in my judgment, fit within the rules, the chair of the committee, especially, seemed to be raising objections that didn't seem relevant to me--that is, she couldn't see how his preparing of materials contributed to his education. The committee compromised and gave him two hours of credit.
Second, I probably should have given up my attempt for credits when, after I was introduced and gave an explanation of why I thought credits were appropriate (rehashing the material I gave to Ms. Cline), the chair said to me, "Why is it that we should give you credit for writing a book review of a biography of 'some lawyer'"? I was taken aback by her seemingly brazen ignorance, but I tried to hide my astonishment (probably unsuccessfully). Finally, I should have given up my try when I realized that they didn't have Ms. Cline's Dec. 3 letter before them and that when I asked them if they thought that the grounds she suggested in that were the grounds I should address, one member of the committee, in grand style, said that the committee wasn't "bound" by what their administrator said.
Fair enough, but it didn't help much. So, I went right to the text of the rule, and said that it contributed to my and many Oregon lawyers' legal education. I said I would be willing to provide written testimony of the latter point, if they wanted it. The same man who said that the committee wasn't bound to the Administrator's Dec. 3 letter said that they had never made anyone else produce this kind of evidence. So, therefore, I decided to explain how researching and writing the review had substantially contributed to my legal education. I mentioned several points from the book which I had not known previously, and I even pointed out that the discussion of Gus Solomon's role in the famous de Jonge case led me to research and write four essays on criminal syndicalism laws.
Back and Forth
The chair would have none of this, however. She said that she wanted to know how actually reading the book and writing the review contributed to my legal education. She didn't care about other essays. It seemed obvious to me that she was making it up as she was going along, since anyone who is has spent time in thinking about/educating people knows that one of the crucial lessons of reading is that it leads you to other paths as well as the path that the book suggests. So, I confined my response to the actual contents of the book. Yes, I learned a lot about legal realism at Columbia law school in the 1920s (where Solomon went to school for a while), yes I learned about the fights over public v. private power in the 1940s in Oregon, yes I learned about the origin and growth of the ACLU in Oregon in its early days, yes I learned a lot about the confirmation process for a federal judge in the late 1940s, yes I learned a lot about the obstacles a Jewish judge faced in that climate. In other words, I marched them through the contents of the book and a little of my review.
When I heard her respond that she still didn't think that contributed to my legal education, I knew that I had a tough nut to crack. But then, others came in and began to express skepticism. I asked them to point to language in the rule that would seemingly make it difficult for them to award me credit. They didn't like my mentioning the rule, and they certainly didn't mention it. Finally, after a quite unsatisfactory exchange, where I didn't feel I was getting any sense of why they didn't like my request, one of them moved to stop the process and vote to disallow any credits. They unanimously agreed.
I was taken aback and told the chair, and others on the committee that I really wasn't sure why they were denying me credit. One of the committee members, from Gevurtz Menashe, was a very sympathetic-type person, who tried to stress that they weren't making a judgment on the quality of the work. But I still never got an explanation from the committee on why the request was rejected.
When I mentioned this to the chair, she began to tell me that she thought I was being "disingenious." I admit that I made the next mistake. I corrected her and told her that there was no such word in English. She, not used to being corrected I am sure, even when she was in error, refused to talk anymore. So, we ended with a sort of frosty dismissal of my position and my uncomprehending and pretty unsympathetic read of their process and decision.
In order to appeal this decision to the Board of Governor's, I need to do it within 21 days of the issuance of the committee decision (Rule 8.1(b)). But, the only problem is that the rules also say that I will be notified in writing of the decision on review and the reasons therefor (8.1.(a)). I haven't been notified in writing of the decision and the reasons. In fact, I would certainly like this, in order to determine what, in fact, were the reasons for denial of my 15 hours. The rules say that the Committee has authority to take whatever action "consistent with these rules" is deemed proper.
I, for the life of me, can't figure out which rule my request violated...
Copyright © 2004-2008 William R. Long