How to Find Recent Oregon Attorney General Opinions (if you’re a mere mortal)

Assume for the purpose of this blog post that you want (and need) to find yesterday’s (August 11th) Very Important, Big News AG opinion about Treasurer Ted Wheeler. (Legal researchers are funny that way. We can’t rely just on news stories. Go figure.)

Here’s the Willamette Week story: Attorney General Says Treasurer Ted Wheeler Is Ineligible to Run For Re-Election In 2016*

Here’s the Stateman-Journal story: AG: Wheeler can’t run for reelection in 2016

Now, neither newspaper publishes (as of this moment) or links to the opinion. They may in time. But what if you need the actual opinion now?

Are the newspapers relying on a DOJ release – or do they have the actual opinion? Hard to tell, so let’s visit the DOJ website, because, maybe, it’s 2014 and this is exactly the sort of thing that websites are handy for: communication.

Let’s see if we can find that (yesterday’s) AG Opinion, at the DOJ/AG’s website:

  • Does the DOJ’s homepage help us find the AG opinion? (Nope.)
  • How about if you click on “What Can We Help You Find?” (Nope, not for this question of ours.)
  • What about that list of “Legal Resources” on the right side of that page or the Legal Resources page itself? (There is a link to AG Opinions, but ….)
  • From the Attorney General Opinions webpage? (Searching the word “wheeler” didn’t work. And a search using 2014 brought up only something as recent as June, but when I narrow it to AG Opinions, I get “No results.” Not helpful. And searching Summaries reveals that there aren’t any 2014 opinions here – and there likely weren’t any so maybe nothing is missing. (So why don’t they say, “No opinions have been issued in 2014″ so we don’t all wonder – and have to call to make sure?)
  • Maybe if we go directly to the Office of the Attorney General’s webpage itself. (Nope, no luck here.)

Maybe they give opinions out to the Media? So let’s try the 2014 Media Releases page. Nope, nuttin’ honey. The most recent entry was June 6th. Today is the 12th and the opinion was “released” early on the 11th. But this is a public agency, this decision affects everyone, and they have a public website – maybe it’s like some of those Dilbert cartoons. (Like the one (from 12/8/11) where Dilbert wonders if he has to meet up with a “newly discovered stone age tribe that has never used Skype” Like Dilbert, “I’m totally confused.”) Maybe I’m missing something here, so I’ll give them a call.

So, it took me 3 transfers and I got to a super-helpful person (hi Nancy!). She said that the opinion was sent over for posting and that should happen shortly. (It was not for me to nag her, who has no control over such matters, why an important decision like this one wasn’t posted yesterday, immediately after the affected parties were notified, which they were first thing in yesterday morning.)

So keep an eye on Opinion Summaries. The AG Opinion may appear any moment.

And then again, this is a reminder that my guide to legal resources Not Online has a growing list of new entries to add and I plan to update the last version (2013) by early September. (And this includes some of the DOJ Public Records Orders, not all of which seem to be online. But maybe that has changed in recent months. I’ll check on that before I write that blog post.)

As for us mere mortals, well, this is a problem not just at the DOJ. There are plenty of public-record court documents that appear on the very expensive court records databases, for purchase if you have the money, and way ahead of them being accessible publicly, even if you visit the courthouse itself. (This will change in time, with the advent of eCourt, but mere mortals are for now outside of that loop, too.) And not all CJ Orders are online either, by the way.

Yes, I clearly ate my Cranky Flakes this morning, but really! Really! Really! I’m totally confused.

*The Willamette Week often includes this disclaimer regarding the current AG: Full disclosure: Rosenblum is married to WW publisher and co-owner Richard Meeker. (Maybe they, and the Statesman Journal, got an early look at a press release or the opinion? Sigh.)

Job (Oregon): State Public Guardian

Position: Program Analyst 4 (State Public Guardian) (LTCO14-8033): Application deadline, August 18, 2013

The Oregon Office of the Long-Term Care Ombudsman is currently recruiting for one (1) permanent, full-time management service (non-supervisory) Program Analyst 4 (State Public Guardian) position. This recruitment will be used to establish a list of qualified candidates to fill the current vacancy and may be used to fill additional vacancies as they occur.

This new position of State Public Guardian will be housed under the umbrella of The Office of the Long-Term Care Ombudsman. The State Public Guardian in Oregon was created through the passage of SB 1553 in February 2014.”

Visit the Oregon Jobs website for the position announcement, description, and applicant requirements.

Is there a 2014 Oregon Rules of Civil Procedure (ORCP)?

Nope. The ORCP is updated biennially so the 2013 edition online at the Legislature’s Court Rules website is the current one.

The next ORCP will be the 2015 edition of the ORS (Oregon Revised Statutes), which will appear online in early 2016 (after the 2015 Oregon Legislative session). Sometimes there are “out of cycle” amendments, but they are rare. (See previous blog post on the subject: Out of Cycle Changes to Court Rules.)

The authority on all of this is the Council on Court Procedures. You can read the current ORCP at their website and also track proposed amendments.

Seven measures certified for Oregon 2014 ballot

KGW story: Seven measures certified for Oregon 2014 ballot

“Measure numbers for the November 4, 2014, general election ballot will be released August 1,” according to the Secretary of State’s website. But it looks as if you can see those numbers, and other information, from this PDF, which I linked to from that website.

Oregon Statewide Initiatives: How Many Signatures Are Needed? 116,284 or 87,213

From the Secretary of State’s “Make or Change State Law website“, as of today:

“The number of valid signatures required to qualify an initiative for the ballot is based on a percentage of the total votes cast for governor at the last election:

  • For a constitutional initiative, 8 percent (116,284) of valid signatures is required.
  • For a statutory initiative, 6 percent (87,213) of valid signatures is required.”

Link to the Secretary of State’s “Make or Change State Law: Statewide Initiatives, Referendums and Referrals” website.

If you’re like me, you’ve noticed how ill-informed most initiative signature gatherers are (however well-intentioned). They don’t know if the proposed measure is a statutory or a constitutional one and they have to dig and dig to find a copy of the actual measure. I don’t expect a lot, they are paid signature gatherers after all, not necessarily issue advocates. However, I do like to participate in the process and surely I should be able to get basic information about what may end up on the ballot.

How to Find State Law Comparisons, Surveys, and Compilations

This is a quick and dirty guide to free and not-free (usually subscription) databases for this kind of research; it is not a comprehensive list. (And novice researchers should be reminded that the same statutory language is not always used across states to accomplish the same purpose.)

FREE:

NOT FREE, but priceless if you require thorough and fast research results:

  • The best and most comprehensive collection is Nyberg / Boast: “Subject Compilations of State Laws.” This collection is available in print (at some law libraries) and is now available online (HeinOnline), though not generally to mere mortals unless they have database privileges at a large law library or large law firm that subscribes. (But your local public librarian may be able to ask another librarian to run a search on a specific topic.)
  • There was also a book, not recently updated, but still useful, and maybe at your local libraries: “National Survey of State Laws,” by Richard Leiter (not updated regularly).

Superseded Oregon Revised Statutes (ORS) Appearing on Oregon Legislature Website: 1953-1997

Legislative Counsel have created an ORS Archives website where they will be posting the 1953-1997 ORS.  Currently the 1953-1957 statutes have been posted to the website:

Oregon Revised Statutes (ORS): 1953-1997 Archives

Remaining statutes will be posted as time allows and the Constitutions, Indexes, Prefaces, etc. will be added after all of the statutes have all been posted.

This has been and continues to be a laborious process and Legislative Counsel have been making steady progress – so tell your Legislators to thank their Legislative Counsel staff for this work!  It will save legislators, lawyers, legal researchers, law librarians, and clients both time and money.

(We had the easy work (relatively speaking) and “just” did the Gutbuster scanning; they had to contend with the Oregon Legislature’s bureaucracy. Oh my.)

Now that it’s Legal: Same-sex Wedding, Marriage, and Divorce Law in Oregon

A Multnomah County Librarian has posted this practical and lighthearted collection of wedding, marriage, and divorce law links:

“Now that it’s legal: same-sex marriage and the law,” by Emily-Jane D., Jun 04, 2014

And maybe it’s also time to update my Engagement Ring Law blog post!

Oregon Court Rules Updates: ORAP and eCourt: Out of Cycle Amendments

Lawyers know this, but not all self-represented litigants do: you have to know your Court Rules, in cycle adoptions and out of cycle amendments.

For example:  Chief Justice Balmer and Chief Judge Haselton recently signed orders adopting temporary amendments to the Oregon Rules of Appellate Procedure (ORAP):

These are new rules regarding PDF-Archival (PDF-A) documents, documents filed under seal, filing deadlines, embedded audio or video files, and much more. See these Chief Justice Orders:

CJO 14-024-14-05: Rule 211A
CJO 14-025-14-06: Rule 211B

Aging in Place: Staying at Home Forum Hillsboro, Oregon, 6/18/14

Staying at Home Forum: Creating the Future You and Your Loved Ones Desire

“Learn about key aging related issues and options, accessible home features, local resources, and actions you can take to successfully stay at home and in your community for as long as possible.

Join AARP Oregon, Villages NW, Unlimited Choices, Lifelong Housing Coalition, and Washington County Disability, Aging and Veterans Services for this FREE workshop.

WHEN: Wednesday,June 18th from 9:30am to 12:00pm. Doors open at 9:00am for check in and refreshments. 

WHERE: Hillsboro Civic Center Auditorium, 150 E Main Street, Hillsboro 

RSVP: Space is limited and registration is required. Register online or call toll-free 1-877-926-8300