My Answers To The “Ten Questions For Supporters Of “The Movement For Black Lives” And Anyone Else With The Guts To Consider Them”
It is time—past time, really— for a another entry in the Ethics Alarms Rationalization List.
One of the most seductive and simple-minded of rationalizations, The Hippie’s License flourished in the 1960’s and still haunts us today. The theory is that that up-tight and sanctimonious moralizers drive mankind into misery, stress and insanity by denying basic human urges and instincts, and worse, declaring conduct based upon them wrong. This leads to guilt and the reduction of self-esteem. The Hippie’s License was employed in the Swinging Sixties to justify everything from promiscuity and adultery to petty theft and lawlessness, incivility, vandalism, public defecation and poor hygiene. It was also, as it is today, wildly hypocritical: the hippies derided violence, and little is more human or natural than that.
The sad truth is that ethics are unnatural, civilization is unnatural, and the state of being human demands a greater acceptance of responsibility to others than nature has programmed into us. Ethics evolve faster than we do; while our DNA is telling men to mate with every healthy and attractive female, to fight those who challenge their status in their group and to take what we want and need whenever we want and need it, civilization, traditions, laws, societal standards, experience, knowledge, education and ethical systems instruct us otherwise for our own good Indeed, much of the task of being ethical involves recognizing natural instincts that make us do bad things, and resisting them. Continue reading
Sabrina Corgatelli, a university accountant from McCammon, Idaho, is engaging in such blatantly fickish conduct that I am tempted to change the term “fick” to “corgatelli.” I won’t, because the conduct by the felicitously named Leroy Fick (in proudly declaring to the media in 2011 that he would continue to accept public assistance from Michigan despite winning the state lottery) had no defenders at all, while Corgatelli has thousands of fans who are evidently just as warped as she is. Thus Corgatelli is a fick—an individual who not only engages in unethical conduct but who publicly brags about it—and Leroy Fick avoids the fate of being labelled a corgatelli.
I just wanted to get that bit of terminology housekeeping out of the way at the outset. I must say, however, that at least fick Fick’s motives for his fickism are traditional and comprehensible: selfishness and greed. Corgatelli pays large sums of money to travel large distances in order to kill endangered species. If forced with a crossbow to my head to play Sophie’s Choice with one fick or the other, I’ll keep Leroy.
Corgatelli has set out to taunt critics of Cecil the Lion Killer Walter Palmer by posting serial images of herself on social media, posing triumphantly with her big game victims, sporting captions like this one, attached to the photo above: Continue reading
Jury Nullification Ethics: Denver’s District Attorney Tries To Make It Illegal To Teach Jurors About The Power Of Juries
Jury nullification is the doctrine, rich in jurisprudential and American history, that declares that juries have the power and the right to reject what they believe are either unjust criminal laws or unjust prosecutions, and acquit defendants who may have been proven guilty on the evidence, essentially nullifying the law by refusing to enforce it . They definitely have that power: once a citizen is declared not guilty, that citizen cannot be tried again. The dilemma is that neither judges nor lawyers are permitted to let juries know about nullification, since nullification defies the law. A defense lawyer mentioning it in a closing argument risks a mistrial, and bar sanctions. In most jurisdictions, judges instruct jurors that it is their duty to apply the law as it is written whether they agree with the law or not. In only a few states are jurors expressly permitted to judge both the facts and the law of the case. In 2012, New Hampshire passed a unique law explicitly allowing defense attorneys to inform juries about jury nullification.
In Denver this week, Mark Iannicelli, 56, set up a small booth with a sign that said “Juror Info” in front of the city’s courthouse. The Denver District Attorney’s Office has charged him with eight counts of jury tampering, because Iannicelli used that booth to hand out flyers about jurors’ rights to practice jury nullification to jury pool members. Yes, he has been charged with tampering with juries that aren’t even juries yet. Continue reading
The New York Daily News thought it was newsworthy that a North Carolina judge objected to a man appearing in court for a hearing dressed in a tee shirt and shorts. “Why are you going to show up to court dressed like that based on these charges?” the judge asked. Not getting what she felt was an appropriate response, she postponed the hearing. The offense involved was a particularly horrific one:Matthew Deans, 28, of Wilmington, N.C.,was charged with two misdemeanor counts of death by vehicle and two other charges in connection with the crash. He is free on $10,000 bail while awaiting trial.
On May 23, Deans’ commercial box truck allegedly ploughed into the back of the car belonging to Hadley and Gentry Eddings,, who were stopped at a traffic light. The Eddings’ 2-year-old son was killed in the crash, and an infant delivered by emergency ceasarian section in the hours after the wreck died as well.
For reasons that are not germane to this post, I’ve been in court a lot lately. When I was taking criminal defense cases, I carefully monitored the in-court attire of my clients, emphasizing that it was crucial for them to display respect for the judge and the system, as well as appropriate appreciation of the seriousness of the offenses charged. Almost without exception, defendants appearing in court today are in casual, often sloppy attire. This shows the stupidity of those appearing, the incompetence of their attorneys, and irresponsible upbringing, schooling and socialization. Continue reading
A federal appeals court this week upheld an NRA-crafted Florida law making it illegal for doctors to ask questions and record information about a patient’s gun ownership. Medical groups had challenged the law, arguing that it infringed on doctors’ First Amendment rights.
Which it does. The law is an outrageous incursion on free speech in order to protect gun owners from unwelcome anti-gun lobbying by their physicians.
Among other restrictions, the law says doctors must refrain from asking about gun ownership by patients or family members unless the they believe in “good faith” that the information is relevant to medical care or safety. It also prevent doctors from discriminating against patients or “harassing” them because of owning firearms, which presumably means that it is illegal for a doctor to tell a patient, “You’re too clumsy to own a gun, and if you blow your damn face off, don’t come crying to me.”
“The purpose of the act, as we read it, is not to protect patient privacy by shielding patients from any and all discussion about firearms with their physicians; the act merely requires physicians to refrain from broaching a concededly sensitive topic when they lack any good-faith belief that such information is relevant to the medical care or safety of their patients or others,” said the 2-1 majority opinion, written by Judge Gerald Tjoflat and joined by Judge L. Scott Coogler.
Dissenting Judge Charles Wilson argued that the law violates the First Amendment rights of physicians:
“Simply put, the act is a gag order that prevents doctors from even asking the first question in a conversation about firearms. The act prohibits or significantly chills doctors from expressing their views and providing information to patients about one topic and one topic only, firearms.”
I don’t see how anyone can dispute that analysis. I especially don’t see how the other two judges dispute it.
Doctors shouldn’t use their position of influence to try to impose their political, social and life-style views on patients. If the American Medical Association wants to declare that to be an unethical abuse of a doctor’s status and a patient’s trust, I wouldn’t complain. The law, however, has no more business telling doctors that they can’t advise their patients that owning guns may be bad for their health or their neighbor’s health than it has making it illegal for doctors to tell patients that Donald Trump is just what this country needs in the White House. What’s next, telling dentists that they can’t tell you about their brilliant kids while they’re poking around your mouth?
The state doesn’t have to get involved in what patients and doctors talk about, shouldn’t, and mustn’t. This is a job for ethics, not law. If a doctor won’t stop telling you that the Second Amendment should be repealed, the remedy is easy: tell him to shut up, or you’ll find a new doctor.
Or just shoot him.
Pointer: Legal Ethics Forum
Bill Cosby’s lawyer Monique Pressley decided to become a hybrid attorney-publicity agent yesterday, and in doing so provided an impromptu seminar on why people hate lawyers, and often should. She was carefully spinning and dissembling on behalf of her client without breaching the ethics rules against lying, parsing words and phrases with skill and deftness, all in the service of a serial sexual abuser and perhaps the greatest hypocrite pop culture has ever produced.
The impetus for her media spin tour, for that is all it was, is the New York magazine issue that features the stories of 35 of Cosby’s accusers. First Pressley told CNN’s Ashleigh Banfield that the women were comparable to a lynch mob: Continue reading