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Portland Environmental and Business Law Blog

Liquor and recreational marijuana don't mix

According to Oregon law, you can't mix marijuana and liquor use in a public place where liquor is being served. That means recreational marijuana is verboten at bars. It's also not allowed at places such as breweries, wineries or any other business that is licensed to and does in fact manufacture alcohol.

The law limits your use of recreational marijuana at special venues where alcohol is being served. Have a bar -- open or otherwise -- at your wedding? No recreational marijuana allowed. You cannot sell or consume recreational marijuana at these locations or events. Individuals are allowed to have on them one ounce of recreational marijuana if they aren't using it. One ounce is the legal limit in Oregon for personal possession.

Who does Oregon law consider to be heirs to estates?

Like all states, Oregon has set up some parameters around who might be considered an heir to an estate. Some individuals are automatically considered to be heirs while others are only heirs if a document, such as a will, names them so. Oregon law allows anyone to be named an heir in a will or other estate planning document.

Many relatives might be considered an heir under Oregon law even without a will in place. A spouse and children, for example, are almost always considered heirs. Other relatives that could be considered heirs include grandchildren or great-grandchildren, siblings, parents, grandparents or nieces and nephews of any degree.

The appellant versus the appellee

When a lower court decision is entered, both parties generally have the right of appeal. In some specific cases, appeals might not be allowed, particularly if the parties had agreed to abide by an arbitration decision beforehand. If an appeal is entered, though, the parties become the appellant and the appellee.

The person or organization that files the appeal in the matter is the appellant. The appellant has the burden of proof in the case, just like a plaintiff has the burden of proof in a civil case. The appellant must make a case showing that the trial court or judge made some type of error in handling the trial or in rendering the decision. Those errors must be legal errors in relation to understanding and implementing the case law or in handling the procedures of the trial. The appellant does not introduce new evidence in an appeal that might have changed the outcome of the trial case.

Can you sue for defamation?

Requirements for civil defamation lawsuits differ for each state, but some common rules tend to apply. Some of those rules are involved in determining whether you have the basis to file a defamation lawsuit. You can't necessarily sue everyone who says or prints something about you or your company that you don't like -- other people also have rights, including the right to free speech.

Usually, there are five requirements for a defamation lawsuit. First, someone had to have made a statement about you or your brand in writing or speech. Second, someone else -- not you -- had to have heard the statement or read it. In effect, the statement must have been published to a third party or the public.

How is the federal court system structured?

The federal court system is separate from the local and state court systems. While federal courts do have to follow federal laws, they are structured differently and follow different rules than other courts.

At the federal level, the courts are divided into 94 districts. Oregon itself is home to three federal district courts, and the Mark O. Hatfield United States Courthouse in Portland is one of them. In addition to the regular district courts, there are bankruptcy and other specialty courts. These courts only handle matters within their specialty. Other civil and criminal federal cases are handled in the district courts.

Federal appeals arguments must be polished

The Litigation Consulting Report, a publication for attorneys and other legal professionals, has ten recommendations for those who want to make an argument before a federal appeals panel. Those ten recommendations boil down to the fact that you have to know what you are doing and be able to do it well if you want to succeed with such appeals.

The first recommendation is practice. Anyone presenting before an appeals panel has very little time to get their point across, and there are no do-overs. You have to know what you are going to say and how you are going to say it.

What is a petition or complaint?

The petition or complaint is typically the very first document that is filed in a civil case. It is the document that begins the case, and it is supposed to outline the case that the plaintiff has. That means that the petition names the defendant or defendants and lays out the grievances against those individuals.

The document is supposed to include legal claims and the facts that support those claims, although at the time the complaint is filed, not all facts of the case might be known. The plaintiff can add to the facts and evidence of the case as it proceeds.

Summary judgment doesn't always end the case

When you are dealing with civil litigation, a summary judgment against you can be disheartening. Just as you might be gearing up for a trial or further hearings, the trial court might grant a motion for summary judgment on some technicality or fact. Many times, judgments are granted on misrepresented or misunderstood facts, which is why the appeals process is in place.

In one Oregon case, a man filed claims against an employer, stating that the employer retaliated against him for complaining about racial discrimination. According to documents, the man filed claims for discrimination, retaliation for speaking out about the discrimination and retaliation for whistleblowing.

Keep your estate out of court

Over the past few weeks, we've discussed a number of cases involved in civil appeals and highlighted some important facets of the appeals process. Today, we're taking a moment to point out that it is often in your best interest to keep a case from traveling up the court system if possible. One of those times is when you are planning your estate.

If you are of sound mind and have goals and desires for your estate, then taking the time to create a strong estate plan can reduce the chances that your heirs battle their way through the courts. Not only does this save your heirs stress and time, but it can also save a lot of money for your estate, leaving more for your spouse, children or other heirs.

Navigating the Complexities of Venture Capital

Many young ventures and startups explore the option of seeking venture capital to finance the next step in growth and expansion. This is a hot trend in business currently, and many companies are eager to start the process and lock down funding for new projects and for scaling up.

Venture capital is a complex process, however, strictly governed by SEC rules and regulations. There are a multitude of pitfalls along the way that could potentially ruin a business. It is critical that you have a skilled commercial law attorney at your side, guiding you through important decisions and next-steps.

Here are a few questions to ask when considering venture capital as a means of financing:

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  • OPB