When one dies the process of erasure begins. Things you held dear are disbursed to those interested or to the scrap heap. After the optional 'obits', it is unlikely further ink will be spilt on your behalf. Here it is told how Oregon lawyers are simply erased by the Oregon State Bar before a lawyer's professional death .
For me it began in 2001. You see, the Oregon State Bar has an efficient erasure program not unlike Hitler's pogrom of years ago and for the same purpose:
1. Lawyer Referral Service -- For small-town lawyers there is a worthwhile Bar program to connect the public in need of simple legal services with lawyers who specialize in those areas of the law and at low cost to the public. For lawyers, it could lead to a solid, loyal clientele. For the public, they can get a legal question answered for a nominal fee. However, once a lawyer gets a bar complaint, specious or otherwise, one is erased from this referral service and a steady source of income.
2. Bar Complaints -- Once a lawyer has a bar complaint lodged against them, it immediately becomes a public record and the Bar gratuitously ensures that it is on the internet -- for the protection of the public, of course. Never mind the complaint may come from a client who simply does not want to pay their bill or is otherwise lacking in merit. On the other hand, when a judge has a complaint lodged against them, it is confidential. Almost half of the Oregon lawyers surveyed in 2002 feel the Bar's disciplinary system is biased against them.
3. Bar Directory -- You will not find Sally Leisure's name there. This is because she was successful in defending herself against a specious bar complaint that ruined her career. Undaunted, the Bar went after her again and now she is erased.
You will not find my name in the 2007 Oregon State Bar directory either even though I have been an Oregon lawyer since 1973 and am nice to small animals.
4. The Media -- There is a cozy relationship between the Bar and The Oregonian. Roger Weidner, a former public prosecutor, tried to point this out while he sought to expose the corruption in the Oregon Bar and the Oregon court system. At first, he received favorable rulings by highly respected judges. Then he faced rulings by judges that are an embarrassment to Oregon's legal system, yet the low quality of some of Oregon's judiciary is unreported by The Oregonian. Indeed, The Oregonian did away with their valuable judicial evaluation stories years ago. When Mr. Weidner tried to confront the corruption of Oregon's legal system, he became the victim and his story squelched.
The Oregonian has placed two sensational, negative articles in their papers about me without asking my side of the story. Indeed, no reporter from The Oregonian will even return my telephone calls, nor respond to my emails, nor publish my press releases. Nor anything. I have been erased from their public.
5. The Courts -- I have practiced in Washington County for twenty years. The Washington County Court Administrator called me recently, and in a nervous voice, advised me that my electronic court building pass had been revoked. He said that he had never been asked to do this before and apologized.
6. Cyberspace -- When you are an Oregon lawyer you pay to participate in online legal research services. I have been erased from this service. If you google me you will learn that the Bar took me to task for charging my client $67.50 too much, in their view. But you won't find my side to the story there. It has been erased.
7. The Oregon Supreme Court -- Even though I have been President of the Washington County Bar Association, a member of the Oregon State Bar Board of Governors (the policy-making body of the OSB) and a member of the House of Delegates (the legislature of the OSB) for two terms, the Oregon Supreme Court wants me erased. You see, I speak out.
While I served on the Bar Board of Governors for two years (2003-2004), not once did any member of the Oregon Supreme Court attend any meetings of the Board of Governors in Lake Oswego. Not once did any member of the Oregon Supreme Court ever deign to speak with me while I was part of Bar leadership even during the court budgetary crisis of 2003 when local lawyer input could have been useful.
I have practiced appellate law in Oregon for twenty years, but not once has the Oregon Supreme Court deigned to review any one of my client's twelve cases filed before them on discretionary review. Moreover, they never have said why. I am invisible to them. There is an unholy alliance between the Oregon State Bar and the Oregon Supreme Court which permeates all these issues resulting in offending Oregon lawyers being unfairly dispatched to oblivian.
Recently, I have written several times to the Oregon Supreme Court asking for a response on a specific case. They will not respond to any of my formal, polite letters. To them and to the Oregon State Bar I have been almost totally erased.
8. The Oregon State Bar -- They want to be sure you know if I have done something bad as a lawyer,as the Bar views the world. If I have done something good for the general order of legal jurisprudence in Oregon I am ignored.
9. The Oregon State Bar Board of Governors -- They erased me in 2004. I have formally requested to be put on the Board of Governor's agenda several times for the good of the order, but they have not responded. My representative there lowers her head in the foxhole when I requested her help.
10. Friends and Family -- It is like if one has been diagnosed with cancer or leprosy. Family and friends are uneasy. They know something is amiss, but are afraid to ask. I practice in the same community where I grew up. Former classmates are similarly unsure about me.
It isn't just me. There are lots of us erased lawyers in Oregon. But, you simply don't know where we are and you don't hear from us because we have been erased and, ergo, silenced by the Oregon State Bar.