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Passing the bar exam is a requirement to become a practicing attorney. But why is that the case? The Law Library of Congress explored the history of the bar exam in the U.S. in a couple recent blog posts.

The first discusses how the bar exam came about: The History of the U.S. Bar Exam, Part I – The Law’s Gatekeeper.

The second highlights the first person of color and the first woman to be admitted: The History of the U.S. Bar Exam, Part II – The Gate Openers.

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The purpose of this blog is to explore Oregon law. However, the navigable waters off the Oregon coast are governed by federal maritime law, or outside the U.S. borders, international law. Federal law incorporates the international laws of piracy and has provisions for U.S. citizens who engage, or assist, in piracy on the “high seas.”

The blog post “Modern Piracy and the United States Code” from the Law Library of Congress, by Aaron Lombard, explores this topic. It is a fun introduction to federal laws and legal resources.

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Cite checking goes by many names, including Shepardizing, KeyCite, and authority checking, among others. At a basic level it is checking a case one plans to use to make sure it’s still okay. Rulings from cases can become invalid over time if a more recent case from the same or a higher court changes the rule, or if the legislature passed a statute that impacted the case. In order to find such events, legal publishers have created tools (called citators) to track such changes.

One of the original tools was Shepard’s (now a LexisNexis product). The online LexisNexis version allows a user to find documents that cite the case they are looking at. It also allows a user to see if any of those have overturned the case of interest, or otherwise challenged part of its ruling. In Shepard’s there are visual indicators to suggest a case is still good (green), called into question (yellow), or part of it has been overturned (red). Westlaw has a similar tool called KeyCite, and Fastcase uses Authority Check.

It is important to note that any of these tools can only indicate that there might be something. The user will have to read the newer case that may affect the original case to see what that impact actually is, and how it relates to the user’s situation.

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OJD iForms is an easy way for self-represented litigants to produce court documents in a variety of case types including Family Law, Landlord/Tenant, and Small Claims. According to the OJD brochure, iForms “generates a correctly completed form that you can either eFile, deliver by hand, or mail to the court.”

The process is a simple one, called Guide and File. With Guide and File, the user logs in to the site, chooses the form they want to file and answers a series of interview questions, after which iForms generates a form.

There are some interviews within Guide and File that have Spanish translations. The OJD website cautions that court documents must be filed in English, or the court may reject your filing.

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How did it get to be December so quickly? In the spirit of the holiday season, here are some of the most bizarre holiday laws!

Misdemeanor for throwing snowballs

In Provo, Utah, there is a city ordinance that restricts residents from using a snowball or any object that could be labeled as a “missile,” to inflict damage to other’s property. The ordinance states “Every person who shall willfully or carelessly within the limits of this city throw any stone, stick, snowball or other missiles whereby any person shall hit, or any window broken or other property injured or destroyed or in such a manner as to render travel upon the public streets and places of the city dangerous, or in such a manner as to frighten or annoy any traveler, is guilty of a misdemeanor.”

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In honor of Thanksgiving, here are some holiday- related legal stories.

Presidential Turkey Pardoning

The presidential tradition of pardoning a turkey at Thanksgiving has an interesting history. You can read a full history of this tradition at the White House Historical Association’s website. Abraham Lincoln was not the first President pardon a turkey, as it is commonly thought. As it turns out, President George H. W. Bush was the first to use the term “pardon” after a turkey was presented to the president and was sent to live on a nearby children’s farm.

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So your loved one can no longer care for themselves. Now What?!

In October the Washington County Law Library hosted a webinar on the divorce process with Sara Kearsley from McKean and Knaupp Attorneys. The video of the presentation is now available on the county’s YouTube!

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A patron recently asked what something meant. They were pointing at a series of numbers and abbreviations at the end of a statute. It looked like this “[1957 c.448 §1; 1981 c.88 §2; 1983 c.330 §1; 1993 c.741 §110; 1993 c.796 §1; 2001 c.403 §1]” (ORS 776.015). I told them that is the history of the law.

When the legislature passes a law, it starts as a bill. That bill has a number, like HB 2001 or SB 101. That tells us if it’s a House Bill (HB) or Senate Bill (SB). Those bills that are approved by both houses and signed by the Governor become a session law. Those session laws are compiled after each legislative session. Those compilations are titled Oregon Laws.

The Oregon Revised Statutes are a compilation of all the session laws passed by the legislature that are currently in effect. To make it easier to find a law, they are organized by subject. But each statute has a list of the session laws that have impacted it, in brackets. That is the text our patron was asking about.

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In honor of Halloween today, here are some weird laws from around the world pertaining to the celebration of this spooky holiday.

Many locales have age restrictions on trick or treating, usually banning teenagers and adults. Some cities ban adults accompanying children trick or treating from wearing masks.

In the UK you could be fined and spend six months in prison for wearing a police officer costume.

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