Oregon Court of Appeals Sniffs the Weed and Finds it “not inherently unpleasant”: Oregon v. Lang

Oregon v. Lang, 273 Or App 113 (2015), (Benton County Circuit Court CM1320460; A154498)

Citations below are to the online, unofficial advance sheet version of this case, and available for viewing (at least as of today) at: http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/docs/A154498.pdf

This is another case that would be quite instructive to laypeople interested in the law, assuming they read the whole case and also perhaps talk to a lawyer or judge about it, rather than relying on a brief news report – or a blog post.

One cannot read this case, or most any other case for that matter, through a “common sense” lens, especially if it’s someone else’s idea of common sense and that person hasn’t the slightest clue how laws are made, published, administered, enforced, litigated, or interpreted.

Among other knowledge to be gained from reading this case: one might learn about probable cause, how statutes are interpreted, how judges decide the meanings of words, the role of legislative history, rights and responsibilities of law enforcement personnel, the value of “making a good case” by the police and the prosecutor, etc. Yes, there is much more to learn from this case and perhaps especially the limits of the law and perhaps also how not to handle a neighbor-law problem. (Do not assume these have easy legal or non-legal remedies.)

Aside: We may also assume that none of the parties to the case or the judges ever lived in a small apartment with a large, long-haired dog that had been sprayed full on by a skunk. There is nothing “not inherently unpleasant” about smelling skunkweed-equivalent for days on end. Just saying (g).

Excerpts from Oregon v. Lane:

“... defendant’s appeal is limited to challenging whether the affidavit furnished probable cause to believe that someone in his residence had created a physically offensive condition….” [p. 119]

“…. The parties’ arguments about the meaning of the term “physically offensive” present a question of statutory interpretation. To determine the legislature’s intent, we look to the text of ORS 166.025 in context as well as the legislative history and, if necessary, to interpretive maxims. State v. Gaines, 346 Or 160, 171-72, 206 P3d 1042 (2009). We begin with the words of the statute themselves. Because the term “physically offensive” is not statutorily defined, we assume that the legislature intended the words to carry their ordinary meaning. “Physically” means “in respect to the body.” Webster’s Third New Int’l Dictionary, 1707 (unabridged ed 2002). “Physical,” in turn, means “of or relating to the body <~ strength>—often opposed to mental.” Id. at 1706. “Offensive” means “giving painful or unpleasant sensations” and is synonymous with “nauseous, obnoxious, [and] revolting.” Id. at 1566. Those synonyms suggest that the word “offensive” implies a greater degree of displeasure or discomfort than the word “unpleasant” might, standing alone....” [pp. 119-120]

How to Change Your Voter Party-Affiliation Registration in Oregon

It’s easy to register to vote in Oregon, online, in person, by mail.
Visit the Oregon Secretary of State Elections homepage or the Register to Vote page directly.

It’s also easy to update your contact information, e.g. address, name, etc.

HOWEVER, note that it’s not so easy at that Secretary of State’s website to figure out how you can change your party affiliation online or in print. That webpage says:

You can update your voter registration information, except to change your party for the Primary Election ….

But there is no specific instruction or link to any page with specific information about how to update your party affiliation so it’s anyone guess if you can do that without calling or visiting a county elections office, which is either very easy or very difficult depending on where you live and what transport you have. Maybe if I drill down and enter my personal data in all the forms it will become clear how one changes one’s party affiliation, but without doing all that, I couldn’t tell you.

The SoS print voter registration forms (PDFs also online) allow you to “update” all sort of personal information, e.g. name, county and state, home address, and date of birth, but it does not include on the form a clear option to update your choice of “Political Party.

On the other hand it looks as if you can write in a change on that form (assuming you print it out). I suppose you can add a note about your party change to the bottom of the form where it asks you to specify what information you are updating. But it’s not clear that is permitted.

RECOMMENDATION ON CHANGING YOUR OREGON VOTER REGISTRATION PARTY AFFILIATION:

Contact your county’s Elections office; they should almost always be the first place you turn anyway when you have questions about Elections and Voting. You can find links to your county’s elections info at the SoS County Elections Officials webpage.

Some county elections websites give very clear instructions on updating party affiliation, but not all of them do. Multnomah County Elections does give clear instructions and I suspect that the instructions apply to every county – after all, Oregon elections law is state law, not local.

Here, for example, is what you’ll see at the Multnomah County Elections Office website:
Party affiliation change – please update your party affiliation by completing a new registration card online (link is external) or print (link is external).

Happy voting!

Homeless in Portland: Business Alliance, Street Roots, and the Law of Urban Planning 101

There has been a recent slew of articles and editorials on homelessness in Oregon, but this editorial stands out – and not just as a reminder that Street Roots is always worth reading.

The editorial needs a few footnotes, specifically citations to sections of the Oregon Constitution and other laws that are referenced. But their absence doesn’t take away from the gist.

Portland Business Alliance: We can do better than this,” by Israel Bayer, Street Roots editorial, 15 July 2015

Excerpt:
The Portland Business Alliance took out a full-page ad in today’s Oregonian with the headline, “We can do better than this.” The ad goes on to say, “Our city is experiencing a crisis on our streets and in our parks….

On its face, the campaign seems like a practical call for housing and resources — something we can all agree on. In some ways, Street Roots doesn’t disagree. It’s time for bold action on housing and homelessness in our city. There’s simply no place left to turn.

Saying that, buying a one-page ad in The Oregonian and orchestrating a Change.org petition seems like a sensational attempt to force the mayor into responding to the issue.

Here’s the thing. When it comes to having tools at our disposal to combat our housing and homeless crisis we are hurting badly. Here is a short-list of tools used in other states that are prohibited at a local or state level….‘ [Link to full editorial.]

Research Foreign and International Law Like a Pro

If you’re not an expert researcher or if you don’t have access to a large law library with professional foreign and international law librarians, the key to productive legal research is the “Legal Research Guide,” most of which are created by those professional and expert law librarians, many of whom also have US and foreign law degrees.

For example:

1) NYU’s GlobalLex (sample Researching Canadian Law)

2) You can also visit the Law Library of Congress

3) You can search the web using keywords like legal research guide [country name]

4) Or, visit just about any law school library’s foreign and international legal research website. (Don’t forget to check the websites for law libraries in other countries.)

Oregon Lawyer Ethics: When Lawyers Sue Lawyers for Ethical Breaches (The Bee, Editorial)

“Ethics and the Law in Oregon, spotlighted by a local lawyer,” editorial, The Bee, July 2015 (Vol. 109, No. 11)

Excerpt: “We have heard comments for quite some time, from folks in the legal profession, suggesting that large law firms in Oregon get preferential treatment by the Oregon Bar Association over the small firms and individual practitioners. Comments like that are easy to dismiss as simply sour grapes – but now, a lawsuit claims the same thing.

In a news report dated Friday, February 27, 2015, and filed by reporter Annie Ellison under the headline “Federal Suit Against Oregon State Bar Alleges Favoritism and Discrimination”, it is stated that “Software developer and former VP of Marketing for Oracle Corp. James Reilly and Victoria Jelderks filed the suit Feb. 26 against the Oregon State Bar Association and general counsel Helen Hierschbiel. ‘If you are from an influential firm in the State of Oregon, you can do whatever you want and the bar can dismiss it,’ Reilly said. ‘As a consequence, these big firms are breaking the law with impunity.’”.…” Link to full editorial at The Bee.

Citing to: Federal Suit Against Oregon State Bar Alleges Favoritism and Discrimination, Friday, February 27, 2015, by Annie Ellison, GoLocalPDX Reporter

The editorial (and GoLocal PDX article) was also saved at the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine. (Why we save pages at the Internet Archive.)

Oregon State Bar, Discipline

Bubbles in MOOC-land

“Understanding the MOOC moment, by Prof. Randal Picker (guest-blogging) July 10 at Volokh Conspiracy. (Professor Picker’s website, or maybe this website.)

Excerpt:

Next Monday, I am launching a new free online course, Internet Giants: The Law and Economics of Media Platforms. In it, we will wrestle with questions relating to Microsoft, Google, Apple, Amazon and the other great companies that define the online platforms we spend so much time with. These companies are involved in important antitrust, copyright and patent cases, both in the United States and Europe, but around the world generally.

We will also consider recent developments in net neutrality and in the regulation of platforms relating to music, video and e-books. These are great topics, and I feel very lucky to have a chance to think about them.

But my plan here is to focus not on the content of my particular course but instead on the MOOC phenomenon more generally. I will also discuss what is involved in launching a MOOC and then will report back over the next couple of months as I see day-to-day life in MOOCland....” (Link to full blog post.)

Find this post and more at Justia’s Blawg Round-up, which is way more fun than you might imagine.

Internet Searching and Archiving: It Doesn’t Get Better; It Gets a Whole Lot Worse

Two recent articles worth reading if you want to research online and recall the past:

Net for Lawyers: Google’s News Search is in Even Worse Condition Than we First Thought, Another in an Unfortunately Growing Series of Articles about Google Search Problems

“The Cobweb: Can the Internet be archived? by Jill Lepore, New Yorker, Jan. 26, 2015 issue.

See previous OLR post: Save that Webpage to the Internet Archive!

Link to Perma cc website.