Sam Hochberg & Associates ? Your Motorcycle Lawyers
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(503) 224-1106 or (800) 347-1106

Serving Portland, Vancouver, Beaverton, Eugene, Salem,
Camas, Battle Ground, Ridgefield, Tigard, Lake Oswego,
Gresham, Hillsboro, Bend, Redmond, and statewide in
Oregon, Washington & California
At Sam Hochberg & Associates, we are dedicated to serving those who ride. We have been handling biker injury cases through AIM - Aid to Injured Motorcyclists - since about 1986.

We represent more injured riders than any law firm in Oregon, and our lawyers are recognized in the legal community throughout the West Coast for our expertise in motorcycle accident law. Our lawyers take rider training courses, even if they don't own a bike. Sam has been riding since 1971. When you talk to us about your accident, be assured we speak biker.

Our firm donates many hours of legal time without charge, or pro bono, fighting for bikers rights. We also represent the Oregon Confederation of Clubs, through our active involvement with NCOM, the National Coalition of Motorcyclists.

We hope you find the biker information here useful. Feel free to contact us with any questions on motorcycle law.
And, Ride Safe!

Motorcycle Law & Bikerís Rights

Been in an accident?

For valuable information on what to do if you've been in an accident, check out our An Injury Victim's Legal Guide & FAQ page.

What insurance coverage is right for you?

Check out our Tips About Your Car or Bike Insurance page.

Aid to Injured Motorcyclists

Are you a member of AIM, Aid to Injured Motorcyclists?

Tell us when you call, or contact us via the AIM phone number at 1-800-On-A-Bike. You can also visit the AIM website at www.aimncom.com.

Interested in becoming an AIM rep? AIM reps attend biker events around the state and distribute information about AIM and NCOM. Contact our motorcycle legal assistant, Gunny Hutcheson or the AIM headquarters at 1-800-On-A-Bike.

Click here to learn more about AIM.

Motorcycle Resources

Click here to view all of our Motorcycle Links!

Profile of an Oregon Motorcycle Attorney – Sam Hochberg

Oregon Motorcycle Attorney – Sam Hochberg

For years, Oregon and Washington lawyer Sam Hochberg has been on two wheels. In fact, you could say that Sam has been working his way toward his status as "Oregon's Biker Lawyer" since his first bicycle, back in the Bronx, New York. Though not yet motorized, Sam was in the wind and riding all over the city on two wheels at a tender age. By 13, Sam and his friends would ride the length of Manhattan Island, take the Staten Island Ferry and back, and then ride back to the Bronx. One of Sam's favorite adventure rides was over the George Washington Bridge, to New Jersey. Not only did he get a grand view high above the Hudson River, but Sam and his friends could buy cigarettes there, where nobody would recognize them and snitch them out to their parents. This was all before there were bicycle lanes. So it's no surprise that Sam discovered the freedom of motorcycles at a young age as well.

The first motorcycle came in 1971 – a Yamaha 200 with a 2-stroke motor – and he's just kept riding ever since. "Nothing clears out your head better. Ask anyone who rides," he says. Sam tries to take a week or two every summer to wander the West solo on his Softail, usually with no concrete plans. "I just go where my nose leads me," he says. He also travels the state on his bike to motorcycle events and meetings; nowadays, preferably smoke-free meetings. MORE...

Sam's Rides

2003 Harley-Davidson Heritage Softail - Anniversary Edition
  • Anniversary colors: Two-tone, Silver on top, black on the bottom
  • 88-inch "Twin-Cam" "b" motor, meaning it's actually BALANCED! The mirrors no longer fuzz from vibration! At least not from speeds within Oregon speed limits. It's fuel injected, with electronic ignition.
  • As most riders do, Sam has put on various parts of this and that, as well as some aftermarket mufflers and a "ForceWinder" air cleaner. The Forcewinder lets it breathe much better, and gives your RIGHT LEG a whole lot more legroom.
  • Purchased brand-new from American Motorcycle Classics, in Albany, Oregon. Sam says to go see John, and he'll treat you right. Tell him "Sam sent ya!"
Also in the garage: 1990 Harley-Davidson Sportster 1200

Sam still owns the bike he got before his Softail, a "Sporty" that he's put a lot of miles on. It's a 1990 Harley-Davidson Sportster 1200. A few facts about Sam's Sporty:

  • 74 cubic inch motor/1200 cc's
  • Sam bought it used, back in January, 1991, when it had about 900 miles on it.
  • The bike came originally from Columbia Harley-Davidson in Vancouver, Washington
  • The Sporty was Sam's first Harley after nearly 20 years of riding Japanese bikes
  • Sam optimized his Sporty for long-distance riding by changing out the chain sprockets to reduce the RPM at highway speeds

Since the bike was purchased by the first owner at Columbia Harley-Davidson in Vancouver, Washington, Sam brought it there for maintenance, especially while "Tall Johnny" was his mechanic. "Tall Johnny" Newbury now has his own shop, "Johnny's Ol' Skool Motorcycle Repair." Stop in and say hi, at 15th & Washington, in downtown Vancouver, WA.

After almost 20 years of riding various Japanese bikes, Sam's first ride on the Sporty prompted him to say, "I could tow a truck with this torque!" While the Sporty is Harley's "smaller" bike, Sam says he's owned cars with smaller engines.

Even though he doesn't ride it much now, Sam has been known to engage some "Anti-Sportsterites" in spirited 'discussions' about Sportsters. Other Harley riders like to claim that it's too small a bike for long-distance touring. But over the years, Sam's ridden his Sporty from Western Canada to New Mexico, and just about every state in between. The trick, Sam says, is to just change out the chain sprockets, to reduce the RPM at highway speeds. Unfortunately for newer Sportster riders, Sam's Sporty was made in the last year they used chain-drive four-speeds on the 1200's. After that, they switched to belt drive. Swapping out belts and belt pulleys is a bigger hassle and more costly than for chain sprockets.

A few other modifications over the years made Sam's Sporty easier to ride for distance. One of the first, before the sprocket changes, was to pop a sheepskin seatcover onto the bike, which did a LOT to reduce the vibration. (Thanks and a tip o' the helmet to Rotten Roger for that little trick!) Progressive brand shocks on the back helped handling a lot. With the highway pegs in place and a "T-Bag" on the back of the bike, Sam was ready to roll for years. He had the bike a little torn down for a few years, but it's back together now for our Associate Brian Ruff to ride, at least until he has his own ride.

1971 Harley-Davidson Duo-Glide

This was a 74" Shovelhead that Sam picked up instead of money on a case, some years ago. It had a lot of deferred maintenance, but the body was in beautiful shape. No Harley emblems anywhere on the paint. Instead, it had custom pinstriping by Gary Crisp. The bike had its idiosyncracies. It had an old SU carburetor that was high-performance, in its day. For the bike to start at all, the carb had to be tickled just-so. It also had a tiny air cleaner prone to making the bike cough after it had swallowed enough rain.


Other Rides

Like most riders, Sam has owned a number of motorcycles over the years. The first one is easy to remember: It was a 1971 Yamaha 200, a vertical twin two-stroke he bought brand-new in the Bronx. Not your highway bike, the little Yamaha was actually an excellent bike for New York City. About 25 years later, Sam actually FOUND the man he'd sold it to, in Flagstaff, Arizona, Gyula the mechanic. He still had the bike, but in spite of Sam's best begging, Gyula said it was also HIS son's first bike, so he wouldn't sell it back.

Among other bikes, over the years Sam has also owned an early Honda Goldwing (1100 cc's), an early 70's Kawasaki KZ-400, a Yamaha Virago, and a '77 Kawasaki KZ 650.

AIM Chief of Staff, Oregon – Gunny Hutcheson

Aid to Injured Motorcyclists (AIM) Program

A Guide for Encounters with Law Enforcement

Motorcycle News

August 17, 2007 PRESS RELEASE: An Important Victory for Bikers
CITY OF PORTLAND TO PAY $50,000 IN LAWSUIT OVER BIKER CLUBHOUSE RAID

The City of Portland, Oregon, will pay $50,000 to settle a lawsuit brought in Federal District Court over a 2004 pre-dawn police tank raid on a local motorcycle clubhouse.

In a multi-agency operation using armored vehicles and tear gas rockets, the 5:30 a.m. raid on July 28, 2004, broke down the front door at the Gypsy Joker Motorcycle Club on NE Martin Luther King Boulevard. The police were there to execute two search and arrest warrants. Only three people were there, none of whom were the subjects of the warrants. After an extensive search resulting in damage to the walls and other structures, nothing illegal was found.

The lawsuit was brought last year by Patrick Murphy, a member of the club, Suzanne Miller, who was injured in the raid, and “Tomorrow RUS Today,” the corporation owning the clubhouse. The police pulled framed photographs off the walls and deliberately smashed them, in addition to damaging other clubhouse property. Mr. Murphy was handcuffed for five hours and released without charges, and Ms. Miller's foot was injured in the raid. The suit alleged the police used excessive force with tanks and tear gas rockets, and that they damaged clubhouse property without a legitimate purpose.

The suit also alleged the police intended to create “a chilling effect” to discourage people from associating with club members, in violation of the plaintiffs' First Amendment rights to freedom of association. Attorneys for the city of Portland agreed to allow a judgment against the city to settle the case. The judgment was signed last week by Judge Janice M. Stewart.

“The way the police handled this, it's as if they were trying to scare people away from the club,” says Sam Hochberg (HOCK-berg), the Portland attorney for the plaintiffs. “Our law enforcement was acting lawlessly,” says Hochberg. “Bikers still get a bad rap from some very dated stereotypes.”

“The club had to take a stand," says Mark Dencklau (DENK-lau), president of the Portland Gypsy Joker Motorcycle Club. “We needed to tell the police that we won't be treated as second-class citizens. We won't sit by and be their target anymore.”

“All we ask is for is common decency, ordinary respect for bikers and their property, and the freedom to be left alone,” says Hochberg.

Sam Hochberg & Associates Attorneys at Law - Phone: 503-224-1106
Email: SamBikeLaw@aol.com
US District Court for Oregon Case No: 06-cv-1085 ST

NCOM Convention in Derby City, Kentucky, May 11-13, 2006

NCOM CONVENTION IN DERBY CITY, Kentucky hospitality greeted a near-record number of motorcyclists' rights activists to Louisville for the 21st annual NCOM Convention, held Mother's Day weekend, May 11-13, 2006 at the spacious Executive Inn.

Nearly 1,300 bikers attended the National Coalition of Motorcyclists' Convention, coming from virtually every state and representing most Motorcyclists' Rights Organizations and Confederations of Clubs across the country.

Hosted by the Kentucky Motorcycle Association/KBA and the Kentucky Confederation of Clubs, this annual gathering draws prominent leaders in the bikers' rights movement to different locations every year to discuss topics of concern to all riders. Meetings, seminars and group discussions focused on safety issues, legal rights, legislative efforts and litigation techniques to benefit our right to ride.

Highlights of the 3-day conference included an insightful presentation by researcher and author Wendy Moon, “Fatal Design – UV vs. Motorcycle” which offers an intriguing explanation as to why motorcycle injuries and fatalities are increasing yet motorcycle accidents are decreasing.

This year's agenda was packed with informative and thought provoking meetings such as the NCOM Board of Directors Meeting, NCOM Legislative Task Force Meeting, A.I.M. Attorney Conference, A.I.M.Chiefs of Staff Meeting, Christian Unity Conference, Clean and Sober Roundtable, Women In Motorcycling, SMRO President's Meeting, American Biker Party Conference, and the popular and always inspiring Confederations of Clubs General Patch Holder Meeting.

Seminars and workshops included “Government Grants – How To Write & Obtain,” “EPA Effects On Shops & Riders,” “Freedom of the Road & Use of the Courts,” “Loud Pipes,” “Fourth Amendment – And Other Rights Under The Constitution,” “National Transportation Safety Board,” “5 Steps To Freedom” by Sputnik of Texas, and “NAFTA Superhighway.”.

The NCOM Legislative Task Force welcomed new members: Idaho State Senator Skip Brandt, Texas State Rep. Norma “Da Lady” Chavez, and Arizona lobbyist Bobbi Hartmann.

South Dakota State Rep. Jim Putnam was entertaining with his home-spun humor as the dinner speaker during the Silver Spoke Awards Banquet on Saturday evening.

Silver Spoke Award recipients were:

  • MEDIA: Peter Kay, Wheels of Grace
  • ENTERTAINMENT: Paul Revere and the Raiders
  • COMMERCE: Joe Teresi of Paisano Publications
  • GOVERNMENT: U.S. Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma
  • LEGAL: Joey Lester, California A.I.M. Attorney and Partner in the Law Offices of Richard M. Lester
  • SPECIAL RECOGNITION: Cyndi Calhoun (Posthumously) of the Texas Motorcycle Rights Association; Motorcycle Rights Group Advocate Pam Martin; and George Heissenbuttle, Founder of the Kentucky Motorcycle Association/KBA.

The Ron Roloff Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to “Tiger” Mike Revere, President of ABATE of Oklahoma and member of the NCOM Board of Directors.

NCOM would like to thank the KMA/KBA and the Kentucky Confederation of Clubs for hosting this year's Convention, and special thanks for the following groups for hosting Hospitality Suites during non-meeting times: Soldiers For Jesus M/C, Sober Riders MC and the Kentucky COC.

The 2006 Convention was dedicated to the memory of Cyndi Calhoun of the TMRA-II and Fat George Hutchison of the Spartan Riders MC and Arizona Confederation of Motorcycle Clubs.

Next year's NCOM Convention will be held May 10-13, 2007 in Charlotte, North Carolina. Call NCOM for further details at (800) 525-5355 or visit www.On-A-Bike.com.

NCOM Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, May 10-13, 2007

UNITY IN THE COMMUNITY “Speeding Into The Future” was the theme for this year's NCOM Convention, held in Charlotte, North Carolina, over Mother's Day weekend, May 10-13, 2007 at the University Hilton. Another near-record crowd attended the National Coalition of Motorcyclists' 22nd Annual Convention, converging from virtually every state and representing most Motorcyclists' Rights Organizations and Confederations of Clubs across the country.

Hosted by the Concerned Bikers Association/ABATE of North Carolina and the Confederation of Clubs of North Carolina, this annual conference draws prominent leaders in the bikers' rights movement to a different location each year to discuss topics of concern to all riders. Meetings, seminars and group discussions focus on safety issues, legal rights, legislative efforts and litigation techniques to benefit our right to ride.

This year's agenda was packed with informative and thought provoking meetings such as the NCOM Board of Directors Meeting, NCOM Legislative Task Force Meeting, A.I.M. Attorney Conference, A.I.M. Chiefs of Staff Meeting, Christian Unity Conference, Clean and Sober Roundtable, Women In Motorcycling, SMRO President's Meeting, Minority Outreach, and the ever popular and always inspiring Confederations of Clubs General Patch Holder Meeting.

Seminars and workshops included “Government Grants – How To Write & Obtain” , “EPA Effects On Shops & Riders” , “Freedom of the Road & Use of the Courts” , “Loud Pipes” , “Fourth Amendment – And Other Rights Under The Constitution” , “National Transportation Safety Board” , “5 Steps To Freedom” , and “NAFTA Superhighway” .

Keith Ball, former editor of Easyriders Magazine and founder of Bikernet.com, was entertaining and informative with his historical perspective on the roots of the bikers rights movement as the featured dinner speaker during the Silver Spoke Awards Banquet on Saturday evening.

Silver Spoke Award recipients honored during the banquet were: MEDIA: Brian & Toni Shearon of Thunder Roads Magazine; GOVERNMENT: Tommy Thompson, former Secretary of Health & Human Services/former Governor of Wisconsin and Presidential hopeful; LEGAL: Mitch Proner, A.I.M. Attorney for New York & Connecticut; MERITORIOUS: Bill “Snap” Lines of the Patriot Guard Riders; and SPECIAL RECOGNITION: Barbara Alvar of ABATE of New Mexico; Carmaletta Lara of ABATE of Oklahoma; and Patti Nasrallah of ABATE of Florida.

Receiving the Ron Roloff Lifetime Achievement Award was Rick Nail, past President of CBA/ABATE of NC and former member of the NCOM Board of Directors.

The National Coalition of Motorcyclists was happy to welcome the following as new NCOM Member Groups: ≠≠The Patriot Guard Riders, ABATE of the Garden State (NJ), BikePAC of Idaho, Freemasons Riding Club – National, Sovereign Riders MC, American Cruisers MC Chapters #56, #150, and #55, and the Southern California Biker Alliance.

The 2007 Convention was dedicated to the memory of Karen Bolin of the Motorcycle Riders Foundation, KC Mallady of ABATE of Florida, Marty Shultz of ABATE of Maryland and “Tank” of His Laboring Few Motorcycle Ministry.

Next year's NCOM Convention will be held May 8-11, 2008 in Houston, Texas at the Sheraton North at the George Bush Intercontinental Airport. Call NCOM for further details at (800) 525-5355 or visit www.On-A-Bike.com.

Motorcycle Events in Oregon

There are events for motorcycle enthusiasts and riders all year long, even if some aren't riding events. Try the website for ABATE of Oregon to find current motorcycle runs and other bike events. Many of their events are geared around some great destinations for rides, and it's always a good time! Well, except for the rain and mud now and then. If the weather isn't good enough for you to ride, there are also parties and fundraisers you can find on the ABATE website. Don't miss their annual CHRISTMAS TOY RUN in early December, culminating in an event with bikers and the rehab kids at the SHRINERS Children's Hospital, in Portland, Oregon.

The ABATE of Oregon website has many links to explore, but ANOTHER terrific site for Northwest Bikers is Moto Northwest. If you're looking for some RIDES, www.NWBIKERS.COM also has a nice ride list, including lots in WASHINGTON, from Central and Eastern Washington, to Seattle, Idaho, the Columbia River Gorge, Portland, and most places in between.

Check out the current feature on NWBIKERS.COM, The NEXT 100 YEARS of MOTORCYCLING, or click here: NW BIKERS.com -- and if you should through that contact or ride with any biker groups, ENJOY, ride safe, and be sure to tell 'em SAM SENT YA!

Motorcycle Injury Cases – One Example

Sam's Motorcycle Cases in Print

Articles appearing in The Gunny's Sack`, Easyriders Magazine, and more!
Portland Bike Club Sues Over Discriminatory Labeling

March 1999

The Portland, Oregon Chapter of BROTHER SPEED M.C. and Art West , longtime member and past president, have slapped the City of Portland and Mayor Vera Katz with a civil rights suit in Federal District Court, in Portland. The club was labeled a "Criminal Gang" by the city, in their "Gang Designation" Ordinance. Under this Ordinance, the biker actually gets an official "Gang Affiliation Notification" letter from the police and gets to have a couple of levels of hearings.

Club member Robert "Bobbay" Challis was given notice that he had been designated by the cops as an affiliate of a criminal gang - namely, Brother Speed - and was given an opportunity to contest the designation. Challis and his attorney, Oregon AIM Attorney Sam Hochberg, took up the challenge, and the city backed down - claiming that they'd violated their own time lines. Problem is, the law didn't give Brother Speed any opportunity to challenge THEIR designation, as a criminal gang! Brother Speed didn't care for that, and with the backing of the Oregon Confederation of Clubs, they went to court.

The lawsuit was filed, but according to Attorney Hochberg, "The City of Portland tried to use the discovery part of the lawsuit to dig up irrelevant information about the club, its members, contacts and finances, so rather than comply with a court ruling and give up the requested information, we withdrew the original lawsuit and re-filed another lawsuit under Bobbay's name as an individual member of the club, for the wrongs done to him."

Bobbay's new lawsuit alleges that this false labeling causes them grief in a number of ways, such as being excluded from public events solely on the basis of their association in their club and wearing their colors, in violation of their constitutional rights of freedom of association and freedom of speech.

The lawsuit seeks both temporary and PERMANENT INJUNCTIONS against the city from enforcing their ordinance. Attorneys are Portland civil rights lawyer Spencer "Spike" Neal, Sam Hochberg, and his associate, Brooks Cooper. All three lawyers are also long-time riders, and want to see this particularly nasty discrimination to stop.

ADDENDUM: Sam represented a client where the same incident happened again to a member of the same club. “Turtle” was also slapped with the designation as a member of a criminal gang back in 2006; but in Turtle's case, Sam got the city to just drop the matter by sending the city a letter. No lawsuit was needed the second time. To see letters that were sent in behalf of Turtle, see the letters titled “REQUEST FOR HEARING: Appeal of Gang Affiliation Designation” and “Response to Sam's Letter Above: Appeal of Gang Designation” in the “Letters Written by Sam Hochberg” section below.

Gang Affiliation Notification, by Sam Hochberg

From Easyriders magazine, April 1999

In Portland, Oregon, police have come up with a new twist to harass bikers and opposition to it has already surfaced from the new Oregon Confederation of Clubs. The police have cooked up this scheme to peg local patchholders as members of "criminal gangs." The biker actually gets an official "Gang Affiliation Notification" letter from the cops, and he gets to have a couple of hearings. If you don't contest it, or if you just never get the notice, your name is burned in on that police computer.

A member of the Portland Chapter of Brother Speed MC received such a letter, so we asked for a hearing. Turns out this hearing is just a meeting with a cop at a cop shop. All the patchholder could argue is that he's not a member, not whether Brother Speed MC is, in fact, a criminal gang. What's worse, their definition of a criminal gang could apply to an Elks Lodge as easily as to a patchholder's club. I've been to law school, and this just doesn't pass that time-honored analysis, the "smell test." In fact, it stinks.

The patchholder and I went to the first hearing, and, of course didn't prevail, so we're off to the next level, which involves some sort of so-called community forum. But I won't hold my breath.

In the meantime, we're looking long and hard at this ordinance here in Oregon, for our own sake, and because your town could be next. With the help of our own civil rights biker lawyer, Spencer "Spike" Neal, you'll be hearing more about it and we'll keep you posted in Easynews.

ADDENDUM: Eventually, Mr. Challis and the club dropped the lawsuit, but there were no further attempts by the City to label any motorcyclists as "Gang" affiliates, until the matter of Turtle came up in 2006, and the city DROPPED that "gang designation" too, after just a letter from our office. No lawsuit was needed the second time.

Oregon A.I.M. Attorneys Fight Helmet Law in Court: Victory in County Court Spurs Need for Further "Test Case"

Stanley "Tom" Carr, an ABATE of Oregon Lane County chapter member, recently beat an "illegal" helmet ticket in Central Lane Justice Court with the help of the Oregon Aid to Injured Motorcyclists (A.I.M.) attorneys Sam Hochberg and Brooks Cooper.

Tom was stopped by a Lane County Sheriff's deputy and cited for wearing a "beanie" helmet. The cop said it was illegal. Tom bought the helmet 10 years ago at a shop in California. It had a DOT sticker, chin strap, inner padding and a hard outer shell, in other words - everything the statute says our helmets require to be legal in Oregon.

Brooks Cooper, of Sam Hochberg & Associates' Oregon A.I.M. office, represented Tom in the Justice Court trial. "Even after ABATE took the State Police to Federal Court and won, the cops keep harassing bikers," said Cooper, referring to the March 1997 decision of the Honorable Jon Jelderks in ABATE of Oregon, Inc. v. Howard.

"Judge Jelderks made it clear that if a helmet has a hard outer shell, chin strap, inner padding and DOT sticker, it is presumed to be legal. Even so, cops like the Lane County Sheriffs office still cite us because, technically, the judge's decision is only binding on the State Police. That's why Sam and I keep fighting these citations. We want to try to develop a precedent that will be more broadly binding so cops can't use this technicality to avoid doing what Judge Jelderks said they should," Cooper commented. "In Tom's case, I showed the Justice of the Peace that the federal standard, that the cop said he was applying, was so complicated that the cop himself couldn't understand it. I then argued that if the cops can't understand the law how can average citizens be expected to? The Justice agreed with my argument that so long as a biker does what Tom did, buy a helmet that meets the 4 objective criteria in the law, they shouldn't be penalized if it turns out that their helmet didn't actually meet the very complicated federal test. How can we comply with a law that we can't even apply?" Cooper continued.

Cooper also pointed out that because Tom Carr's trial was in the Lane County Justice Court the decision is NOT precedent and not binding on any other cops, saying, "The decision wouldn't have been binding unless we'd lost in the Justice Court and taken it up into the Court of Appeals."

Cooper concluded, "Sam Hochberg and I are committed to the helmet law fight. If you, or anyone you know, is cited for wearing an 'illegal' helmet when their helmet has a chin strap, hard outer shell, DOT sticker and inner padding, please call us as soon as you get your ticket. If your case has the right facts it might just be that 'test case' we've been looking for to finally get the cops to interpret the statute correctly. Of course, we don't charge the biker any attorney fees to represent them in a 'test case' and would do so pro bono (free) as a service to all Oregon riders."

EXPLANATION: As a result of pressure put on a variety of agencies, ultimately the 1993 Oregon Legislature changed the definition of a motorcycle helmet. Now, a biker is no longer required to try to prove that his helmet passed the manufacturer's Federal testing requirements. The new law repealed the statute that relied on the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard for helmets – FMVSS 218 – and replaced it with a more practical definition of a motorcycle helmet. Now, it's easy to determine if your helmet meets the Oregon definition or not. See ORS 801.366.

Because I Can

From Easyriders magazine, November 1998

As you longtime Easynews readers know, we have long been reporting bad behavior toward motorcyclists (especially when bikers are disrespected by cops).

An ugly incident occurred recently at the funeral of a fallen brother. Tim Stewart was a good guy and a mechanic who worked at Columbia Motorcycle in Vancouver, Washington. He was a member of Free Souls MC. Tim was tragically killed on his bike in April. Members of his and other area clubs went to the funeral to pay their respects, as did attorney Sam Hochberg.

Sam and other riding lawyer, Spencer "Spike" Neal, were pulled out of the chapel by upset bikers, because the Vancouver P.D. and Clark County Sheriffs were out in the parking lot of the funeral home writing down the license plates of the bikers there to mourn. They refused to stop and refused to leave.

After legal arguments didn't work, Sam asked the cops why they had to disturb friends and family who were there to mourn with such "rude" behavior. The answer from this cop? "Because I can." All in all, it was a very sad day in Vancouver, for more than one reason.

Prosecutor Calls Motorcyclists' Case "One Big Zoo", by Kirsten Lucas

From the Grants Pass Daily Courier, March 11, 1995

Josephine County Circuit Court Judge Allan Coon heard final testimony and closing arguments Friday in a group of cases involving members of the Vagos Motorcycle Club, who claim police violated their civil rights.

Prosecutor Jody Vaughan characterized the proceedings, which lasted nearly three days and required testimony from numerous sheriff's deputies and state troopers, as "one big zoo."

More that two dozen bikers went to court to contest a host of traffic tickets they received last Memorial Day weekend. They claim police targeted them for traffic stops, photos and searches because of their Vagos membership.

Roughly 100 Vagos were in town that weekend for a party at the Kerbyville Ghost Town on Redwood Highway.

Police say they created a "high profile" presence throughout the county during the Memorial Day weekend, but that it was intended for all motorists, including those attending the annual Boatnik celebration in Grants Pass.

Josephine County Sheriff Dan Calvert testified Friday that similar precautions taken last Memorial Day weekend were taken for the recent "peace rally" against the Aryan Nations, which involved respected community leaders.

"Any time we have any specific activity occurring that involves a large quantity of people...we need to have more officers available to ensure safety of citizens...and visitors," Calvert said.

"We don't target individuals or individual groups," he said.

Judge Coon found the vast majority of the bikers guilty of the traffic infractions for which they were cited.

However, Coon reserved final judgment in all cases until he rules on an overall motion to suppress evidence based on the defense theory that police violated the Vagos' First Amendment rights of free speech and assembly.

Testimony and evidence supporting the defense motion was introduced throughout the traffic citation hearings, making for exceptionally lengthy hearings, which caused dozens of witnesses, bikers and police, to be tied up in court awaiting their turns on the stand.

Prosecutor Vaughan said having to defend the Constitutional challenge mounted by Vagos attorney Sam Hochberg was "an incredible waste of taxpayer money" and described his motion to suppress evidence as "vague" and "frivolous."

"If they were to just litigate the merit of the tickets, it would have taken 15 minutes per citation," Vaughan said.

"I would say I've put in a minimum of 40 hours, which is overwhelming considering the seriousness of these offenses," she said.

"More expensive than me is overtime (police) officers waiting in the back of the courtroom, while they (the defense) engage in delay tactics."

Hochberg agreed that the whole affair was a waste of taxpayer money, but pointed the finger the other way.

"The waste of the taxpayers' money was brought on by their (police) actions," he said.

Vaughan said she believes the Vagos are entitled to their day in court, but believes their attorney got carried away and at times played fast and loose with the evidence.

The Vagos club has filed a notice of intent to sue the Josephine County Sheriff's Office and the Oregon State Police.

Vaughan said she suspects the Vagos used the proceedings to get information, like sworn witness testimony, to use in a future civil suit.

Hochberg said he was only doing his job in filing the notices.

"I don't intend personally to pursue any such claims," he said. "But I felt that it was my job to preserve their right to make a claim if they choose."

Coon is expected to rule on the Constitutional questions raised by the Vagos in the next couple of weeks.

ADDENDUM: At trial, all but one of the Josephine County Sheriffs who testified claimed that there was never any concerted plan to discourage club members from coming to Grants Pass, “but the final Deputy who testified – a motorcycle officer – had a different story. He admitted that the Deputies met and discussed having over-zealous enforcement as a means to discourage the right of free travel of these club members. The club members, however, elected not to make any damages claims against the County. As to the citations, Sam had mounted a First Amendment Freedom of Speech/Expression as a defense to the various traffic minor infractions, but the judge rejected it and most were ultimately convicted.

Club Riders Arrested for Alleged Traffic Violation, by Gunny Hutcheson

From The Gunny's Sack, July 2003 – see http://www.aimncom.com/enews/gunny/03_gunny_07.htm

In Gresham, OR, a suburb just east of Portland, the Gypsy Joker MC had a run. About half were not club riders. The Gresham police decided that they didn't want motorcycle clubs in their town - and they even said so. They pulled the oldest stunt in the world. They waited until a small pack went through a green light and some of the last in line may have squeezed the yellow or red a little so they pulled the whole pack over with the help of about twenty police cars. They had people on their bellies on the ground, handcuffed for over an hour on a 95-degree day for an alleged traffic infraction! One biker needed an ambulance from the heat. While they had them down and cuffed, the cops brandished guns in their faces, and apparently threatened and swore at folks, saying they didn't want bikers in their town and they best get out. Nearly all were cited for running a red light, even though only a few might have. Several were cited for felony attempt to elude. Sam Hochberg, Oregon AIM (Aid to Injured Motorcyclists) attorney, and his associate and AIM Criminal Defense and Civil Rights Attorney Bill Redden are working the case and defending a whole slew of bikers.

ADDENDUM: Sam went to trial in Multnomah County Circuit Court, Gresham Branch, and along with then-Criminal Defense lawyer JIM RICE, defeated the traffic charges that were leveled against all 16 bikers. The judge even wrote an opinion – unusual in traffic infraction cases – making it clear why she thought the charges were bogus. The bikers then made a claim against the City of Gresham, and settled for a grand total of $300,000.

Biker Tossed out of County Fair

From The Gunny's Sack, March 2003 – see http://www.aimncom.com/enews/gunny/03_gunny_03.htm

In Eugene, OR, a member of the Free Souls MC, Eugene chapter, was tossed out of the Lane County Fair because he was wearing his colors. He's a regular family guy with a regular job, NO criminal record, NO ruckus, and NO problems. After about an hour there, while his wife was eating cotton candy, the Eugene cops surrounded the two of them and escorted them out. Why? It's "gang-free" at the fair. Telling them that the FSMC has been around as a "club" for over 30 years means nothing to them. A civil rights lawsuit is being filed against them by Aid to Injured Motorcyclists (AIM) Attorney for Oregon, Sam Hochberg, and his associate for the case, Bill Redden.

ADDENDUM: Sam filed a Federal Civil Rights suit against the Lane County Fair Board, and the City of Eugene, for ejecting the club member solely on the basis of the writing on his back. Government cannot discriminate on that basis, according to the US Supreme Court case of Cohen vs. California. As soon as the lawsuit was served on the City and for the Fair Board, their lawyers were calling Sam, looking to settle. The case resolved with payment of $10,000.

Bike Seizure in Eugene, OR

This is a comfy, liberal college and lumber town two hours south of Portland. Every February, the Free Souls Motorcycle Club has their anniversary party, and nearly every year, the police buzz all over the area, day and night. This year, Oregon Aid to Injured Motorcyclists (AIM) Attorney, Sam Hochberg, went down to check it out. He saw more than Eugene cops: There were police from Springfield, Junction City, the Sheriff, the Oregon State Police, and a whole lot of unmarked cars. This year, Sam ran into one small thing that may help turn it around.

A biker (NOT a patch holder) was leaving the party and was stopped by police. Cops looked at his bike, said something about the ID numbers on the bike not "matching." The biker told him the bike is titled as a "Reconstructed" bike and the numbers wouldn't match. In Oregon, this means that the DMV inspected it. It wasn't good enough and the bike was seized. Over a month later, the bike is still not released. Sam and his new associate, Leah Johnson, put together a Motion for the Return of Seized Property. It was filed in the Circuit Court for Lane County. Sam says the burden is on the cops to prove a legit reason to hang onto it.

Two months later, Sam's law firm took it to court, and the judge agreed there was no probable cause to stop the biker and agreed the biker proved his bike was properly inspected by DMV and had a proper reconstructed title. But she said the cops could still keep the motorcycle. Indefinitely, it seems. Sam and his associate, Leah Johnson, are convinced the judge is dead wrong. The plan now is to file a "Writ of Mandamus" with the Oregon Supreme Court, as well as file an appeal in the Court of Appeals. Sam also got some backup, too: The state's criminal defense lawyer association, OCDLA, will file an amicus, or "friend of the court" brief for the biker as well.

ADDENDUM: This case started in approximately 2000, and it took over three years, but the biker finally got his motorcycle back, albeit in many pieces. As part of the settlement made on the Civil Rights lawsuit against the City of Eugene, the City paid to put the bike back together again.

A New Years Victory

From a Press Release, from approximately 1998:

In Oregon, Sam Hochberg, AIM attorney, and the new AIM criminal defense attorney, Pat Birmingham, both went to Salem this last month and spanked the police. The cops handed out mass tickets to a group of patch holders and others.

Last May, the Salem P.D. stopped about 60 bikes, because they thought that the last dozen or so in the pack went through a red light. But the cops never could identify who supposedly ran the light, so they just cited everyone for failing to yield the right of way to an emergency vehicle - which was just cops following them 4 or 5 car lengths back with their overhead lights on. Most of those cited were from the Gypsy Jokers M.C.; one was from the Flying 15 and one from the Christian Crusaders. The pack was road blocked at the exit they were taking for a run. Sam and Pat represented 29 of the bikers in court.

The cases were tried one after another. The bikers in most of the pack never saw the cop lights. The results of the trial: 27 acquitted by Judge Gruber in Salem Municipal Court. The judge said that there had to be some particularized suspicion, and the police could identify no one in particular. Judge Gruber rides a Goldwing.

Big Issues with Pumping Gas

As you may or may not know, Oregon is one of only two states (I think New Jersey is the other one) where you are not permitted to pump your own gas. No "self-serve" here. It used to be common custom that bikers were nonetheless allowed to pump their own gas, after the pump jockey handed you the pump. Then, there was a serious crackdown out of the state Fire Marshal's office. There were letters posted in the gas station (that the pump-jockeys pointed to), threatening big fines if you allow anyone to pump their own, including and specifically mentioning motorcyclists. This happened to Sam Hochberg on his bike in Portland. So, Hochberg put the word out in The Gunny's Sack article, asking for feedback from people who were having these problems anywhere in the state. Turned out it was a real problem, so the issues were turned over to BikePAC of Oregon, which had either already picked up on the issue simultaneously, or did so as a result of the noise Gunny was making. Either way, they picked up the ball from there and got the law changed!

ADDENDUM: This problem arose because Oregon does not allow self-serve gasoline service at regular gas stations. Informally, bikers were usually permitted to pump their own anyway, since it's a much more delicate procedure to gas up a bike, and most gas station attendants didn't want to risk spilling gas onto motorcycles, and risk damage or fire. The state Fire Marshal had decided to issue a memo to gas stations, specifically forbidding them from allowing bikers to gas up their own bikes. After a great deal of pressure from the motorcycling public, and letters such as one from Sam as well, the Fire Marshal ultimately relented, and now permits bikers to gas their own bikes.

A Sampling of Letters by Sam Hochberg on Motorcycle Issues

MOTORCYLE AWARENESS MONTH – written to Senator Robert Packwood on March 1, 1991

Samuel I. Hochberg
Attorney at Law
750 Morgan Building
720 SW Washington St.
Portland, Oregon 97205
Telephone (503) 224-1106
March 1, 1991

Senator Robert Packwood
259 Russell Building
Washington, DC 20510
Re: H. J. Res. 107

MOTORCYLE AWARENESS MONTH

Dear Senator Packwood:

I am writing to urge you to vote for H. J. Res. 107 to proclaim May as Motorcycle Awareness Month. I have represented many motorcyclists when they have been injured in traffic accidents. Almost always, it is the fault of the auto, not the motorcyclist. By declaring May as Motorcycle Awareness Month, it is hoped that there will be reduction in injuries and fatalities.

The month of May was chosen because in many states, it is the beginning of riding season. A designated month allows a specific focus for motorcycle organizations to reach both non-riders and motorcyclists with prints and electronic messages regarding awareness and safety issues.

This is the best kind of bill to vote for: It promotes important safety issue, and it really doesn't cost anything. May I count on you for your support?

Very truly yours,
Samuel I. Hochberg
Attorney at Law

ADDENDUM: May is now Motorcycle Awareness month in Oregon, and it IS DECLARED EACH YEAR BY OREGON'S GOVERNOR. Bikers continue to have a RALLY on the CAPITOL STEPS every year in May.

Enforcement of ORS 814.269 (Motorcycle Helmets) – written to Reginald Madsen November 6, 1992

Samuel I. Hochberg
Attorney at Law
750 Morgan Building
720 SW Washington St.
Portland, Oregon 97205
Telephone (503) 224-1106
November 6, 1992

Reginald Madsen, Superintendent
Main Headquarters
Oregon State Police
107 Public Service Building
Salem, Oregon 97310

RE: Enforcement of ORS 814.269 Motorcycle Helmets

Dear Mr. Madsen:

I represent and have represented a number of motorcyclists and motorcycle organizations in Oregon regarding citations they have received for allegedly illegal helmets. I have been provided with a copy of a memorandum written by Philip Mohr to Major David F. Quillin of the patrol division, dated August 5, 1992. A copy is enclosed. The information in that memo that has gone to your troopers is erroneous. I am writing to ask that the Oregon State Police take the following action immediately:

  1. Issue an order rescinding the memorandum of August 5, 1992; and
  2. Issue an order advising troopers and other police agencies that no citation shall be issued to any motorcyclist wearing a helmet, so long as the helmet has a hard outer shell, a chin strap, and some kind of padding or webbing inside the helmet.

The memorandum says that a helmet is not DOT (Department of Transportation) approved if either 1) if the chin strap is riveted on, 2) if the helmet does not have at least one inch of styrofoam "rubber", or 3) if there are no labels inside the helmet. That is wrong. These matters are governed by the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) number 218, which Oregon has adopted at OAR 735-102-020. Let me address each of these three helmet factors:

CHIN STRAP: Nothing in the FMVSS prohibits the use of rivets to hold on a chin strap. In fact, the regulations specifically allow for rigid projections to protrude up to two-tenths of an inch from the outside of the helmet. See S5.5. The FMVSS talks about chin straps only in requiring that the strap bear a certain amount of weight under specified test conditions. It is silent as to the manner of chin strap attachment.

STYROFOAM PADDING: Nothing in the FMVSS dictates whether the padding should be made of styrofoam, rubber, or any other material; nor does it dictate how thick the material should be. The FMVSS merely sets out standards for impact attenuation as described at S5.1, to test the helmet's ability to absorb or dissipate energy from G forces. The character and propensities of the attenuation material (padding or webbing) will dictate whether the helmet passes these tests, and not necessarily how thick the padding is. Incidentally, styrofoam is not a type of rubber.

LABELS: The FMVSS does require that certain consumer information labels be placed inside the helmet by the manufacturer; and that the manufacturer apply a DOT label on the outside of the helmet, to show that the helmet meets the FMVSS specifications. However, the FMVSS does not require that the consumer leave these labels in or on the helmet. Nothing in the FMVSS prohibits removal of the labels.

It is no more illegal to wear a helmet with these labels removed than it is to sleep on a pillow or a mattress with its consumer label removed. Labelling has no bearing on whether the helmet meets the FMVSS safety standards. Many helmets made before part 218 was published do not have these labels, even though the helmet may meet all of the safety specifications. And, an officer can't conduct a legal stop just to inspect the inside of a helmet. It is not fair and in my view, not legal to cite a motorcyclist merely because there are no labels on or inside the helmet.

Currently, many police officers and troopers in Oregon are citing motorcyclists who wear helmets that the officer merely believes are not DOT approved. I've heard officers testify that the shell or the padding seemed to them to be too thin. The officers don't and can't test these helmets, and they have no way to know whether a helmet actually failed any test. In many cases, the citations are issued even though the helmet has a DOT label on the outside! Although the law doesn't prohibit removal of the DOT sticker, this label is the only indication that the manufacturer certifies the helmet meets FMVSS specifications. Certainly in those instances where there is a DOT sticker, the police have no business issuing citations.

There is no list of tested, approved helmets in Oregon. The heart of the problem is that unless an officer or the consumer tests the helmet by dropping weights on it as specified in the FMVSS, then there is no way to know if the helmet fails to meet specifications, except those basic, measurable ones in the FMVSS which address helmet configuration, size, limitation on projection, and contour.

These basic regulations (FMVSS 218, S5.1-S5.5) require that 1) the helmet have some padding (to absorb certain amounts of G force), 2) that the outer surface be hard (to resist penetration from certain amounts of force), 3) that it have a retention system (a chin strap built to withstand a certain amount of load), 4) that the helmet be configured with a certain amount of protective surface with continuous contour, and 5) that the helmet be free of any rigid projections over two-tenths of an inch. If the helmet fails to show these obvious, observable, and measurable qualities, police are arguably justified in issuing a citation. Otherwise, the law is enforced in an arbitrary, unfair, and harassing manner.

For the above reasons, I request that within fourteen days you issue an order rescinding your memorandum of August 5, 1992, and instructing your troopers to cease and desist from ticketing motorcyclists so long as their helmets meet only the basic observable requirements of FMVSS 218. Unless the state of Oregon is prepared to begin wholesale testing of helmets, there is no other fair and justifiable course for law enforcement to follow.

If I may provide you with further information, please feel free to call.

Very truly yours,
Samuel I. Hochberg
Attorney at Law

ADDENDUM: As a result of pressure put on a variety of agencies, ultimately the 1993 Oregon Legislature changed the definition of a motorcycle helmet. Now, a biker is no longer required to try to prove that his helmet passed the manufacturer's Federal testing requirements. The new law repealed the statute that relied on the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard for helmets – FMVSS 218 – and replaced it with a more practical definition of a motorcycle helmet. Now, it's easy to determine if your helmet meets the Oregon definition or not. See ORS 801.366.

Enforcement of Motorcycle Helmet Laws – Police Seizures of Helmets – written to Portland Police Bureau Police Chief on July 12, 1993

Samuel I. Hochberg
Attorney at Law
750 Morgan Building
720 SW Washington St.
Portland, Oregon 97205
Telephone (503) 224-1106
July 12, 1993

Chief Moose
Portland Police Bureau
1111 SW 2nd Ave, Room 1526
Portland, Oregon 97205
RE: Enforcement of Motorcycle Helmet Laws
Police Seizures of Helmets

Dear Chief Moose:

Congratulations on your appointment to Chief of Police. I am writing at the beginning of your term to ask you to immediately correct a new and serious problem: Some of your officers, in their zeal to enforce Oregon's helmet laws, are stopping motorcyclists who are wearing helmets, issuing citations for "unapproved" headgear, and then seizing the helmets, leaving the motorcyclist stranded on the side of the road without a helmet. In many instances, these helmets display "DOT" stickers, which under Oregon law is the indication that the helmet meets Oregon standards for headgear. I am writing to ask that you issue an order to stop this practice in the Bureau.

I represent at least three motorcyclists whose helmets were seized in Portland, but I am concerned for the safety and property of all motorcyclists in Oregon, since I am also the attorney for BikePAC of Oregon, a political action committee, and for ABATE of Oregon. The biker whose helmet is seized must either risk riding home with no helmet at all, or leave a $15,000 Harley-Davidson unattended on the road. Not a good choice.

Just a few weeks ago, State Representative Mary Alice Ford wrote a letter to Dennis Koho of the Motor Vehicles Division, addressing this very problem. A copy of the letter is enclosed. She states that:

"I believe that if the helmet has a sticker certifying it complies with USDOT safety requirements, it is legal to use in Oregon."

Some police officers have stated in court that certain DOT labels are "phony," even though there is no standard for what a DOT sticker should look like. In that regard, Representative Ford said that "the question of fraudulently affixed stickers can and should be addressed by the AG's office. We need a resolution to this problem as quickly as possible."

Dennis Koho of the Motor Vehicles Division, in his testimony on April 5, 1993, before the Oregon Senate Committee on Transportation, said in his written summary that if a helmet has a "DOT" sticker, it is legal:

"If the helmet has a sticker certifying it complies with U. S. Department of Transportation safety requirements, it is legal to use in Oregon."

As to the serious problem of helmet seizures, Representative Ford has also said that:

"The seizure of 'alleged non-compliant helmets' is an unacceptable means of enforcement. This is particularly true when it strands someone on the side of the road risking the possible loss of their only means of transportation."

Representative Ford's concerns over ticketing of helmeted riders and over helmet seizures is an unusually clear indicator of legislative intent, since it was she who sponsored the referral of the mandatory helmet law referendum from the House of Representatives a few years ago.

The underlying problem is that it is very difficult to tell which helmets are in fact not approved. Oregon law is unclear. Oregon has adopted the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) part 218, but the FMVSS does not describe in detail what a legal helmet looks like. Rather, it describes in detail what kinds of performance tests a helmet must pass in order to bear a "DOT" sticker on the outside. This sticker is notice to the consumer that the helmet is legal, and passes these tests, but there is no uniform "DOT" sticker. Yet many of your officers are ticketing bikers wearing helmets with "DOT" stickers.

Very truly yours,
Samuel I. Hochberg
Attorney at Law

ADDENDUM: These helmet seizures finally stopped when the law was changed to simplify the definition of a motorcycle helmet, under ORS 801.366. See also the letter above titled “Enforcement of ORS 814.269 - Motorcycle Helmets".

Request to Repeal House Bill 2454 - Motorcycle Helmets – written to Governor John Kitzhaber dated July 24, 1997

Samuel I. Hochberg
Attorney at Law
750 Morgan Building
720 SW Washington St.
Portland, Oregon 97205
Telephone (503) 224-1106
July 24, 1997

To the Honorable Governor John Kitzhaber
Room 254, Capitol Building
Salem, Oregon 97310
RE: House Bill 2454
Motorcycle Helmets

Dear Governor Kitzhaber:

I am writing to urge you to allow this bill to become a law. I have been actively representing motorcyclists in Oregon for over ten years, and I have been riding off and on since 1971. I can tell you that thousands of motorcyclists in Oregon feel passionately about their right to choose when and where to wear a helmet, as do I, and for a number of very sound reasons.

In the general, non-riding population, very few people have strong opinions on this issue. Among riders, however, you will find nearly universal support for freedom of choice, because we are the ones who are sought to be governed, and we are the ones who know what safety equipment is needed, and when, on a motorcycle. We're the ones riding.

Riders are a small minority of the motoring public, representing a tiny minority of injuries and medical bills. Most of the medical bills incurred for riders, even in states without helmet laws for adults, are not for head injuries. But if the true purpose of helmet laws was taken to its logical end, we would prevent most head injuries by making auto drivers wear helmets. Numerically, many, many more head injuries occur in car accidents than in motorcycle accidents. For that matter, many people are seriously injured every year in bathroom slip and fall injuries. Would we choose, as a society, to make people wear helmets while driving automobiles? Or in the bathtub? The very notion is, of course, ludicrous. And that is precisely how we motorcyclists feel.

Another aspect to the current law is that it has, unfortunately, been used frequently by police agencies in this state as a tool to harass motorcyclists. Pro bono, I have represented many Oregon motorcyclists, who were in my view improperly stopped and ticketed, where the motorcyclist was actually wearing a helmet, but the police thought it was the wrong type of helmet. Or at least so they said.

Most of these helmet tickets end up being dismissed. But they are nonetheless an unnecessary expense to motorcyclists and to the police and courts. Indeed, just last year, Larry Schalk and ABATE of Oregon sued the Oregon State Police over a series of similar incidents, and this spring the motorcyclist plaintiffs were awarded over $30,000 in Federal Court by Judge Jelderks. Surely our resources could be more wisely spent.

I understand you have already been provided with the statistical and documentary evidence which has already persuaded our legislature to change this law. The one most important fact to draw from these documents is that, although perhaps counter-intuitive to an emergency room physician, there were virtually no change in the rate of fatalities (deaths per 100 accidents) in Oregon before and after our helmet law. Instead, there was only a reduction in the number of accidents, with a corresponding reduction in the number of fatalities. Helmets, obviously, do not prevent accidents. Proper training and awareness do.

On matters of safety training, motorcyclists have put their money where their collective mouths are: This session, you have already signed into law a bill by motorcyclists that will double our own license endorsement fees, to pay for the Team Oregon motorcycle safety training program, under the supervision of ODOT. This is where the state's energy and resources should go. Twenty-seven states now have no requirement for adults to wear helmets, with Texas, Arkansas, and the territory of Guam joining the ranks just this year.

Finally, I know you may be concerned because the current law was enacted by referendum, albeit in an off-election with light voter turnout. I would add only that this issue did not come to the people by popular outcry through petition process; it was referred by the legislature, and the legislature now sees that what they referred has not worked, and have voted to change it. The only popular outcry about motorcycle helmets has been from motorcyclists, and the cry has been virtually unanimous:

Let us make our own decisions on this matter that is so important to us, and of so little consequence to almost anyone else.

Respectfully submitted,
Sam Hochberg
Attorney at Law

REQUEST FOR HEARING: Appeal of Gang Affiliation Designation – written to Portland Police Bureau Gang Enforcement Team dated August 11, 1998

Samuel I. Hochberg
Attorney at Law
750 Morgan Building
720 SW Washington St.
Portland, Oregon 97205
Telephone (503) 224-1106
August 11, 1998

Gang Enforcement Team
Portland Police Bureau
449 NE Emerson Street
Portland, OR 97211

Re: REQUEST FOR HEARING: Appeal of Gang Affiliation Designation

Request for Discovery

To the Gang Enforcement Team:

Please be advised I represent Mr. XXXX, along with my co-counsel, Spencer M. Neal. Please direct all further communication regarding this matter through this office. The information you require in your request form, as provided by Mr. XXXX, is as follows:

Requestor : XXXX

Date of Birth : XXXX

Mailing Address : XXXX

Portland, OR

Telephone : Phone calls should be directed through this office.

Mr. XXXX's Gang Notification Letter was dated July 16, 1998. I am requesting a first-stage hearing to contest the preliminary determination that Mr. XXXX is a criminal gang affiliate and meets the criteria for that designation.

REQUEST OF INFORMATION:

  1. Please provide a copy of any and all police reports or other documents containing any information which gave rise to Mr. XXXX's designation as a gang affiliate.
  2. Please provide a copy of any and all statutory or other rule-making or ordinance authority which authorizes or governs this gang designation procedure, including but not limited to the General Order No. 640.05, as described in your gang designation notification letter.
  3. Please provide any and all documentation you are relying upon to show that whatever organization you believe Mr. XXXX belongs to is a "criminal gang."
  4. Please provide a copy of any and all documents which indicate what criteria or guidelines are used to determine that a given organization is a "criminal gang."
  5. Please provide copies of any and all documents which indicate what criteria or guidelines with which to determine what constitutes "clothes or jewelry unique to a gang."

Please provide these materials not later than three business days prior to the scheduled hearing date. Since the scheduling will require the coordination of two attorneys, your office may wish to contact me and my co-counsel, Spencer M. Neal, for scheduling. My telephone number is above, and Mr. Neal may be reached at 221-8688.

Thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation.

Very truly yours,
Samuel I. Hochberg, Attorney at Law

NOTE: See the article titled “Portland Bike Club Sues Over Discriminatory Labeling” in the Sam's Cases in Print section above to read about a client Sam represented who was designated as a member of a “criminal gang” simply for his membership in a bike club.

Response to Sam's Letter Above: Appeal of Gang Designation – written by City of Portland Bureau of Police dated November 30, 1998

City of PORTLAND, OREGON
Bureau of Police
November 30, 1998
Mr. Dale Foster
4546 Summer Wind Ct., NE
Salem, OR

RE: Appeal of Gang Designation

Dear Mr. Hochberg,

I have reviewed your appeal of the gang designation of XXXX as well as the Police Bureau General Order 640.05 which governs the gang designation process. This general order has very specific time lines regarding the designation process.

I have determined the designation process for your client in this instance has been beyond the limits imposed by General Order 640.05. As a result, I have chosen not to designate your client as a gang member based upon the request for designation by Officer Gunderson, dated June 17, 1998.

If you have any questions please feel free to contact me at 823-4295.

Very truly yours,
CAPTAIN LARRY RATCLIFF
Tactical Operations Division

NOTE: See the article titled “Portland Bike Club Sues Over Discriminatory Labeling” in the Sam's Cases in Print section above to read about a client Sam represented who was designated as a member of a “criminal gang” simply for his membership in a bike club

Wrongful Ejection from Kenton Club – written to Kenton Club Owner dated September 15, 1998

Samuel I. Hochberg
Attorney at Law
750 Morgan Building
720 SW Washington St.
Portland, Oregon 97205
Telephone (503) 224-1106
September 15, 1998

The Kenton Club
c/o John Heffelfinger, owner
2025 N. Kilpatrick
Portland, OR

Dear John Heffelfinger:

I represent Mr. XXXX. I am writing regarding an incident which occurred at the Kenton Club at approximately 1:00, Thursday morning, July 23rd. At that time, he was wrongfully ejected from the club, and as a result was made the subject of police attention shortly thereafter. Mr. XXXX was asked to leave solely on the basis of the writing on his back, indicating his affiliation with a motorcycle club. This violates Mr. XXXX's rights of freedom of speech and freedom of association, under the United States Constitution and the Oregon Constitution. See Cohen v. California, 403 U.S. 15 (1971), indicating that individuals have a First Amendment Constitutional right to wear clothing which displays writings or designs.

Mr. XXXX lives just two blocks from the Kenton Club. He has enjoyed a regular and uneventful patronage at the Kenton Club for over two years, once or twice a week. All the time, he has been wearing his jacket which indicates his club affiliation. The Kenton club has never had a problem with Mr. XXXX, and there was no problem on July 23rd, except that the manager, a gentlemen named Arlo, asked him to leave without reasonable cause. The further attention of the police then involved the government as well. Of course, there were no citations nor arrest, since Mr. XXXX was acting lawfully.

Mr. XXXX requests only two things, in writing:

  1. An apology; and
  2. That Mr. XXXX be permitted to come back to the Kenton Club at his leisure, so long as he acts appropriately, whether or not he is wearing his patch.

Please advise of your position within ten days. If you are unable to comply with Mr. XXXX's reasonable request, he has asked me to explore filing a lawsuit against you. He would prefer to settle this matter amicably, with a simple apology and an indication that he remains welcome, as he has been for two years.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Very truly yours,
Samuel I. Hochberg
Attorney at Law

Post-Prison Supervision – Club Association Restriction – written to Marion County Sheriff's Office dated July 1, 1999

Samuel I. Hochberg
Attorney at Law
750 Morgan Building
720 SW Washington St.
Portland, Oregon 97205
Telephone (503) 224-1106
July 1, 1999

Jeff S. Wood
Gang Supervision Officer
Marion County Sheriff's Office
4040 Aumsville Highway, SE
Salem, OR 97301

RE: My Client

Post-Prison Supervision – Club Association Restriction

Dear Mr. Wood:

I represent XXXX regarding a claim he may have against you and the Marion County Sheriff's Office. I am writing to attempt to avoid litigation, and to resolve the problem, if possible.

I understand from XXXX that you have instructed him that, as a condition of his post-prison supervision, he is to have no contact or association whatsoever with other members of the Gypsy Joker Motorcycle Club. This, he tells me, is to include not only personal or telephone contact, but also that he may not wear so much as a T-shirt with the Gypsy Joker name or any associated symbols or insignia, and that he may not wear his club jacket or "colors," indicating his club affiliation. Please advise if this is indeed the case, or if not, just what these restrictions are, and if they are now "policy" from your supervisor, and whether henceforth, all members of the Gypsy Joker Motorcycle Club, as well as the Free Souls Motorcycle Club would be treated the same as "any other street gang." As least as to XXXX this is not acceptable.

XXXX's supervision arises out of convictions for driving-related offenses, and he has no other felony record. He now drives legally, with a provisional license. I can see no logical reason why this club restriction should be put in effect. There is no evidence that this fraternal motorcycle club is a "gang," however that may be defined. Moreover, it is an unconstitutional restriction of XXXX's First Amendment right to choose with whom he wishes to associate, and his First Amendment right of free speech, to choose what writing he may wish to display on his T-shirt or his jacket.

I do not wish to suggest that a post-prison supervision officer should have no authority to place legitimate restrictions upon association. In this instance, however, there is no rational justification for it that would outweigh the burden placed on XXXX's First Amendment rights. My client would prefer to avoid legal action, and I would therefore ask that you advise if your office would reconsider this restriction and agree, in writing, to lift it and to please so advise within the next thirty days. If not, XXXX may be forced to seek redress in Federal court.

Thank you for your time and attention. Please feel free to call if you would like to discuss this further.

Very truly yours,
Sam Hochberg
Attorney at Law

ADDENDUM: These sometimes onerous anti-association provisions are best addressed by criminal defense counsel at the time they are sought to be imposed, and not afterwards, as was the case here. Judges generally have broad discretion in such matters, but there is nonetheless a Freedom of Association issue.

Motorcycles and Left-Turn Traffic Sensors – written to the House Transportation Committee dated March 24, 2003

Samuel I. Hochberg
Attorney at Law
750 Morgan Building
720 SW Washington St.
Portland, Oregon 97205
Telephone (503) 224-1106
March 24th, 2003

To the House Transportation Committee:

RE: HB 3032

Motorcycles and Left-Turn Traffic Sensors

I am an attorney in Portland. I have been in practice for twenty years, and I've been riding motorcycles since 1971. A substantial portion of my law practice is devoted to personal injury traffic accident claims on behalf of motorcyclists. We also handle certain pro bono matters for the motorcycle community, and I'm a member of a number of motorcycle organizations. I am here today to testify in favor of HB 3032, and to urge the committee to pass this bill on to the floor with a recommendation for passage.

More than just a few times, I have found myself in the awkward position that this bill seeks to remedy. Motorcycles simply do not always trigger the sensing device for traffic signals that is embedded in the pavement, usually because they're not heavy enough, or because it's hard to find the precise spot where the sensor is. Cars don't present this problem. If that sensor doesn't register the bike there waiting for the light to change, it won't change. You can sit forever, or risk getting a ticket.

For me to get another vehicle to trip the left-turn signal sensor when my motorcycle will not, I am forced into an unsafe maneuver. I have to move my motorcycle to another position in the intersection where I'm not supposed to be, to make room for another vehicle I can wave onto the sensor. This in itself sometimes takes a cycle or two of the traffic light sequence, before I realize the problem and get the bike moved. In the mean time, traffic gets backed up.

Worse still, when there ISN'T another vehicle for me to wave onto the part of the pavement with the traffic sensor, usually, I have to just go through the red light. If I do that, I try to do so safely, and to look out for traffic. Still, I no longer have the protection of the red traffic signal to rely upon, to stop oncoming traffic. The problem, in other words, leaves me with no good choices.

I can see no downside to this new legislation. It will have the desired effect of avoiding the necessity of unsafe maneuvers by motorcyclist stranded by unresponsive signals, and of avoiding the waste of time and money of the police and of innocent motorcyclists.

Respectfully submitted,
Sam Hochberg
Attorney at Law

EXPLANATION: This bill would have allowed a motorcyclist to proceed against a red left-turn signal, after waiting through one or more full cycles of the electronic traffic signals, if the sensors have not detected the bike and the left-turn traffic signal failed to activate.

ADDENDUM: This bill did not get out of committee, but a number of bikers have expressed interest in bringing this issue up once again, in the January 2009 Session.

Motorcycle Testimonials of Sam Hochberg & Associates

July 1996 Mark Hirons

This is the first time I have ever needed legal help of this nature, and was pleased with the concern shown by A.I.M. attorney Sam Hochberg. After meeting with Sam, I felt like a great burden was lifted from my shoulders. I couldn't be in better hands!

September 1997 Curtis L. Kemp

As of this date my case has not been settled, but I would like to say that Oregon A.I.M. Attorney Sam Hochberg has so far been very kind and willing to answer any and all of my questions. I am very glad that there is someone for a biker to call when things like this happen, and I hope you will always be there for other Bros. Keep up the good work and your wheels on the road.

April 2000 Marlene and Louis Schroeder

We were very happy with the service we received from Sam Hochberg, AIM attorney in Oregon. The morning after I called, someone was here to get our story and take pictures of the bike. We were getting no answer from our insurance company – they said they didn't know this and that – answers that any insurance company can get immediately through the DMV. A month before the accident, we were at a swap meet in Albany, and AIM had a booth there, so we signed up. Other bikers that we talked to after the accident said to call Sam – well, I really didn't want to get involved with lawyers, but after the last call to our insurance company we decided to go ahead and call Sam. It was the best thing we could have done! Our insurance company was just giving us the run around. Sam explained everything to us to our satisfaction. We were very happy with the end results, and would not have done nearly as well had we not contacted Sam.

Photos

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A Biker in the Making – Animal's Grandson Resting in the Saddlebags Sam Speaking at the 2007 NCOM West Coast Regional Conference Photo of Bill Bish, author of NCOM News Bytes.  Click here to access the NCOM Newsbytes Archives
AIM Attorneys at 2002 NCOM Convention – Sam Hochberg is on the top row, second from left Gunny Hutcheson Receiving the Silver Spokes Award at 2002 NCOM Convention – Gunny is the shortest man in the middle with the white beard
A lawyer dinner at NCOM 2008 in Houston.†From left: Larry Katkowsky, Michigan AIM Attorney; Mitch Proner, AIM Attorney for New York and Connecticut, and our own Brian Ruff.

Motorcycle Parking Map for Portland

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