Federal Judge Rules Oregon Law Defining ‘Engineer’ Violates Free Speech

Updated: December 31, 2018

Federal Judge Rules Oregon Law Defining 'Engineer' Violates Free Speech

On Friday, December 28, 2018, U.S. Magistrate Judge Stacie F. Beckerman declared that certain parts of Oregon’s state law and its administrative rules governing engineering practices violate the First Amendment. The case was originally filed by Mats Järlström of Beaverton against the Oregon Board of Examiners for Engineering and Land Surveying.

For more information, read the article at the Oregon Live website here.

Read the ruling here.

OSBEELS previously conceded to violating free speech here.

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Originally published on December 31, 2018

About the Author

Wendell T. Harness

I’ve been building online properties since the late 1980’s and transitioned to web design in 1999. I formed Harness Media in 2005 to help businesses grow through online marketing. I also talk to cats in a silly voice.

27 thoughts on “Federal Judge Rules Oregon Law Defining ‘Engineer’ Violates Free Speech”

  1. It’s time that state boards turn their attention to protecting the public and away from protecting the professions like a jealous four year old. 

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  2. The whole thing brings to mind that medical nurse and hair stylist and manicurists must become certified for each state they work in as if there is any special purpose needed to be able to perform their services differently where ever they may apply their training, especially for their own needs and to assist people in an emergency.I know doctors and nurses who would never stop and give aid to people after accidents because their current insurance would not cover them outside their clinic. Too many have been sued and lost most everything because a person they tried to help did not fully recover or past away after them giving aid on the side of the highway or in a store or on a sidewalk.An engineer, lawyer, surveyor and other professionals have specialized training in their own fields and have wisdom to see wrongs in this world and to censor them for speaking their peace and educating the judicial system is unjust.Also, never tell anyone that you will call them back and not call them back. That opens up a whole new can of worms you don’t want to deal with. You got to say you can not help them and leave it at that.0.02

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  3. https://abcnews.go.com/TheLaw/story?id=6498405&page=1https://biotech.law.lsu.edu/map/AssistingatAccidents.htmlWhen I was 19 I stopped and found my friend beside the highway about a mile from home where he had hit one of my uncle’s black angus cows. I stopped and he got up and crawled into my car and I drove him 4mi to the emergency room. I almost went to jail for helping him had it not been that another uncle that was Sheriff and had me take an oath and promised him to not ever do it again.Don’t ever expect that your efforts will be appreciated when excrement hits the fan.

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  4. Most states have some form of Good Samaritan law that makes volunteer assistance immune if there is no recklessness.Some even require bystanders to provide assistance they are capable of, even if that is just calling 911.

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  5. Isn’t here a case pending in Mississippi where a couple of old loan officers got together, formed a company, and are now peddling aerial photos with colored lines representing boundaries – using the same impinging their right to free speech defense ?

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  6. @Bill93The Doctor, owner and administrator (Dr Merrit) of the hospital and ambulance service wanted to charge me with hindering the aid of the medical team sent for my friend.The ambulance (station wagon type like from Ghost Busters) was pulling out of the front of the parking lot of the Hospital when I arrived at the Emergency Room at the back of the Hospital.Evidently Kyle had a head like a rock. He was released hours later with a bruised ego a mild concussion as his father was not going to pay for a nights stay in the hospital.Six weeks earlier he and two of my first cousins were leaving Mineola at a high rate of speed and hit a curb,went airborne and hit the top of a power pole being downhill and 100+ft away and he came out with a mild concussion and one cousin had a hip pointer and my other cousin had a plate in the back of his skull. Together Kyle had totaled two 1964 Chevrolet Malibu SS Hardtop Coupes in less than 3months, killed a registered Black Angus cow and burnt a hole in his fathers pocket.All three went from graduation directly into boot camp. Kyle, navy and Roger, army and Jerry, AirForce.The hometown Dr Merrit would not allow me into his clinic after that.I’m not heartless, I’ve stopped several times as first on scene and got out and looked in on car crash victims and dialed 911 and gave my impression of what I could see of their condition, talked to the ones that were conscious and directed traffic until the professionals arrived, give them my card and I went to my truck and drove away. All I could do to help was to contact their relatives and let them know to get to the hospital.There are laws on the books and a moral code that a person with abilities should stop and aid the injured and that anyone should do what they can for them.Bottom line is that the victims or their survivors can bring suit against those people that do or do not aid the victims and the DA can decide to bring charges when a judge is willing to rule that they will hear the case and the lawyers behind the victim have the connections and firepower to bring it.

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  7. In California “Engineer” and “Surveyor” are not reserved titles. Add “Civil” and “Land” respectively to the front and then they are reserved titles.Sometime in the 80s or 90s the local agencies revised their Civil Engineering Technician classifications to Engineering Technician because of this. My Father was an EIT “Assistant Civil Engineer” in the 1950s which is a non-compliant classification title so they are now “Assistant Engineer.” “Associate Civil Engineer” is acceptable because this class typically requires a PE license. The State has non-compliant classifications such as “Civil Engineering Associate” but maybe the Board doesn’t have authority over State agencies.Caltrans created new classifications Transportation Engineer and Transportation Surveyor and those are not reserved titles.

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  8. My view on this evolved as the case proceeded. Previous comments on this topic continued to inform my view.My initial knee-jerk reaction that Mr. Järlström shouldn’t use the term engineer to describe himself was wrong. That initial view also was inconsistent with my thoughts on other topics.Humbly I admit I was wrong.   I might have to show this to my wife… “Look, babe. See, I can admit I was wrong…”

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  9. I never understood the board’s obsession with this guy. He is similar to my BIL who couldn’t call himself an electrical engineer in this country because he didn’t have the prerequisite interpretive dance class or whatever US universities wanted him to have that would allow him to take the PE. He was an administrator at the UK central power authority before coming here, but what the heck, can’t do that without the Shakespeare class from Uni. The amazing part of the story is that Mats Järlström stuck it out and took it as far as he did. He must be an engineer to get that worked up over $500.

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    • Posted by: MightyMoeI never understood the board’s obsession with this guy. He is similar to my BIL who couldn’t call himself an electrical engineer in this country because he didn’t have the prerequisite interpretive dance class or whatever US universities wanted him to have that would allow him to take the PE. He was an administrator at the UK central power authority before coming here, but what the heck, can’t do that without the Shakespeare class from Uni. The amazing part of the story is that Mats Järlström stuck it out and took it as far as he did. He must be an engineer to get that worked up over $500.

      Or perhaps it has to do with the laws on comity licensure. For a long time there has been a stand-off between some State boards and the UK licensing authority. They are radically different systems. There has been some good movement on that in the last few years, but the issue isn’t even remotely as you paint it. Developing a comity process between title and credential systems isn’t easy. The people working on it also have to convince the professional societies, legislatures and executive branches of both jurisdictions that whatever they work out will be equivalent and protect the public.  

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      • Posted by: thebionicman

        Posted by: MightyMoeI never understood the board’s obsession with this guy. He is similar to my BIL who couldn’t call himself an electrical engineer in this country because he didn’t have the prerequisite interpretive dance class or whatever US universities wanted him to have that would allow him to take the PE. He was an administrator at the UK central power authority before coming here, but what the heck, can’t do that without the Shakespeare class from Uni. The amazing part of the story is that Mats Järlström stuck it out and took it as far as he did. He must be an engineer to get that worked up over $500.

        Or perhaps it has to do with the laws on comity licensure. For a long time there has been a stand-off between some State boards and the UK licensing authority. They are radically different systems. There has been some good movement on that in the last few years, but the issue isn’t even remotely as you paint it. Developing a comity process between title and credential systems isn’t easy. The people working on it also have to convince the professional societies, legislatures and executive branches of both jurisdictions that whatever they work out will be equivalent and protect the public.  

        but the issue isn’t even remotely as you paint it.How I’m painting it is that he couldn’t get comity, which is what you are saying, so I’m confused how what I said is different from what you said.He ended up taking humanity courses at a school in the US, mostly correspondence classes, to fulfill US requirements for an engineering degree, then later actually took engineering courses for a masters. It took him quite a while to do all of it, he is now working for a power company. His comment was that the English classes were way easier than what he took in the UK prior to Uni. That all started over 20 years ago so much may have changed.The law and enforcement in Oregon was clearly a problem. I never understood why they had such a burr about that guy, of course I’m always dubious when I hear these stories that there may be other issues going unreported.However, that being said, he won and the judge viewed it exactly as many of us did years ago when it first became news. 

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        • Your post implied the the hangup was that our universities demanded he take some useless class. It doesnt work that way.  Applications are not reviewed by educational institutions, they are reviewed by boards under the laws imposed by thier legislatures. If those boards begin issuing licenses outside those laws they will lose thier jobs and possibly the ability of the board to regulate.I have no doubt there were hoops to jump through, but still believe it better to frame it with the history and facts.IMO the Oregon board was in defense mode over the current trend to eliminate regulation. The over-reaction backfired and the courts ruled properly. 

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          • Posted by: thebionicman….IMO the Oregon board was in defense mode over the current trend to eliminate regulation. The over-reaction backfired and the courts ruled properly. 

            10 years ago, when things were slow, I attended several meetings of the board as an observer for PLSO. I got put on the boards mailing list for sub-committee meeting agendas, minutes, and such, and am still on it. I was there enough to be on a first name basis with the board members of that day. The makeup of the board has rolled over a couple of times since then, so none of the current members are known to me, or me to them. I do have some personal knowledge from outside the boardroom of the personality who was the board chairman at the time this “engineer ” ruling was issued. I will say that the board was always very concerned with the letter of the law, and their duty to enforce the law, as written.  Every discussion included a word by word dissection of the relevant passage of ORS and OAR. And that personality I referred to – an air force brat and a career DOT department head- is a person very much inclined to go by the book. I’m quite satisfied that what drove this decision was a careful reading and literal interpretation of ORS 672.002 et. seq. , and nothing more.    

          • Posted by: thebionicmanYour post implied the the hangup was that our universities demanded he take some useless class. It doesnt work that way.  Applications are not reviewed by educational institutions, they are reviewed by boards under the laws imposed by thier legislatures. If those boards begin issuing licenses outside those laws they will lose thier jobs and possibly the ability of the board to regulate.I have no doubt there were hoops to jump through, but still believe it better to frame it with the history and facts.IMO the Oregon board was in defense mode over the current trend to eliminate regulation. The over-reaction backfired and the courts ruled properly. 

            I didn’t imply it, that’s exactly what happened, except I didn’t say useless courses, I did said courses he already had with more rigor in the UK prior to Uni. Of course the university didn’t drive the board’s actions, but the board wouldn’t accept the UK degree so he had to get a stateside engineering degree without needing to take any STEM classes, if I remember correctly he had to take bowling, it was the one gym class he could do at night after work. If the boards wish to change the rules to allow foreign degrees and work experience to count for comity, at least to take the PE, that’s up to them, if not, no big deal to me.  

  10. The Oregon Board is taking a pounding here, but I do not think it should be. The board enforced the letter of Oregon Statutory Law.The court ruled the law, as written,  unconstitutional.  Note that relevant state law, reproduced below, defines the simple use of the word “engineer” as equivalent to “Professional Engineer”. Significantly, it does not similarly consider “Surveyor” to be equivalent to “Professional Land Surveyor” or any of it’s variants.  So any person can go about in Oregon calling themselves a Surveyor, but not – until now – Engineer.  Note that this is the statutory law, passed by the legislature, and not administrative rules promulgated and interpreted by the board.So let’s give the board a break. They were just doing their job. The wording of the law will have to change.   672.002 Definitions for ORS 672.002 to 672.325. As used in ORS 672.002 to 672.325, unless the context requires otherwise:(2) “Engineer,” “licensed engineer,” “professional engineer,” “registered engineer” or “registered professional engineer” means a person who is registered in this state and holds a valid certificate to practice engineering in this state as provided under ORS 672.002 to 672.325.(5) “Land surveyor,” “professional land surveyor” or “registered professional land surveyor” means an individual who is registered in this state and holds a valid certificate to practice surveying in this state as provided by ORS 672.002 to 672.325. 

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  11. He poked the bear repeatedly and P-O’d enough people that they took action.  I’m not saying that’s right, wrong, or indifferent but it is politics.

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  12. So any person can go about in Oregon calling themselves a SurveyorI’ve told people that I am a Surveyor; and they’ve asked me if I go door to door asking stupid questions…An ‘engineer’ is pretty obvious, but a surveyor could be a lot of different things.I was working on a boundary in a residential neighborhood the other day and the neighbor came out and asked what I was doing. I told him I was surveying the neighbors property and he asked what that was.There’s a lot of people out there that are clueless…

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    • Posted by: RADARSo any person can go about in Oregon calling themselves a SurveyorI’ve told people that I am a Surveyor; and they’ve asked me if I go door to door asking stupid questions…An ‘engineer’ is pretty obvious, but a surveyor could be a lot of different things.I was working on a boundary in a residential neighborhood the other day and the neighbor came out and asked what I was doing. I told him I was surveying the neighbors property and he asked what that was.There’s a lot of people out there that are clueless…

      I hold that the term “Engineer” is a least as inexact as “Surveyor”.  In fact the ruling in this case refers to that inexact meaning. An “Engineer” can also be the guy who drives the train. Or the guy down in building maintenance. Our state law needs to be changed by eliminating a single word from ORS 672.002(2). BTW- Washington Law contains very similar language which equates “Engineer” with “Professional Engineer”:RCW 18.43.020Definitions.The definitions in this section apply throughout this chapter unless the context clearly requires otherwise.(1) “Engineer” means a professional engineer as defined in this section.(2) “Professional engineer” means a person who, by reason of his or her special knowledge of the mathematical and physical sciences and the principles and methods of engineering analysis and design, acquired by professional education and practical experience, is qualified to practice engineering as defined in this section, as attested by his or her legal registration as a professional engineer. 

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  13. Texas went thru the change to reflect surveyors as Registered Professional Land Surveyors about 30± years ago to clerify the distinction between what we do and what Engineers, layout crews and pipeliners, DOT and others do.We even got our license certificates upgraded with our new graphics to reflect the change.For the rules and laws to reflect the political correctness of reality, the wordings of the law need to be changed to describe those changes.There ain’t no common sense hardly ever used pertaining to what legal dogs sniff around and come of with. Mostly their time is spent finding cracks in the law to explain things to suit their needs per day and event.

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