Category Archives: Professions

Our Untrustworthy Public Schools, Part I: The Administrator

wolf_in_sheeps_clothing

How could this happen in a trustworthy institution?

It couldn’t.

The Washington Post reported this week that Robin Anthony Toogood II resigned as  principal of Jennie Dean Elementary School, a job he had held since 2009. He also surrendered his Virginia teaching and administrative license. Toogood, who had worked as a teacher and administrator in Washington D.C. area public schools since 2000, had not only falsely claimed to have  a doctorate in education, he also never received an undergraduate bachelor’s degree.

Manassas City officials never checked Toogood’s credentails when he was hired as principal five years ago. The fake degrees were only discovered because he applied to be an elementary school principal in neighboring Prince William County, where to his evident surprise, a proper background check followed. It revealed Toogood’s resume to be Toogood to be true.* He had falsified transcripts from the University of Maryland Baltimore County, Trinity Washington University in the District and Regent University in Virginia. The County alerted Manassas schools, which confronted Toogood. He did not deny the findings and resigned.

He is also apparently a pastor. Manassas City discovered that Toogood also claimed to have earned a doctorate from Andover Theological Seminary and had not.

The Post reports that Toogood had previously been a teacher in D.C. public schools and held administrative positions at several D.C. public charter schools. D.C. public school officials confirmed to the Post that Toogood had taught there from 2000 to 2005, after which he was an administrator at Friendship Collegiate Academy from 2006 to 2007 , and principal of the Center City charter school from 2008 to 2009.  The D.C. Public Charter School Board’s spokesperson told the Post “that the schools conduct their own background checks with board guidance.”

Nice job, guys. Continue reading

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Filed under Education, Government & Politics, Professions

Ferguson Ethics Train Wreck Update: Unethical Prosecutors Edition

McCulloch: Mission Impossible

McCulloch: Mission Impossible

  • CNN’s Unethical Experts. Where does CNN find these people? Carol Costello interviewed two former prosecutors regarding the beginning of grand jury deliberations in Ferguson, both female; one white and blonde, one African American. (As soon as I retrieve the names of these disgraceful representatives of the legal profession, I’ll add them to the post.) The African American prosecutor made her position clear: since St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch has the authority to charge Officer Darren Williams without resorting to a grand jury, that’s what he should do. She termed his resort to a citizen panel to review the evidence a “punt.” Note that McCulloch’s critics have no idea what evidence is in his hands, so criticizing his decisions regarding it is by any measure irresponsible, unprofessional and unfair. She also  suggested that McCulloch was biased against African Americans because his father, a police officer, had been shot and killed by a black man. She presented no other evidence of racial bias. Then Costello went to the blonde ex-prosecutor, who a) agreed that using the grand jury was a “punt”—again without her personal knowledge of the evidence being considered; b) opined that the evidence was probably a mess, and was not clear enough or sufficient to conflict the officer of anything, so c) what should be done is appoint a special prosecutor as in the Trayvon Martin case. She noted that the Martin special prosecutor, Angela Corey, brought an indictment without using a grand jury, and that while the case may not have had enough evidence to sustain a conviction...“at least it calmed things down.”   

Continue reading

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Filed under Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Professions, Race

Ethics Quiz: The Macaque’s Selfie

Macaque

The wonderful photo above has gone viral on the web, and is also causing serious debate among intellectual property lawyers. The weird tale is as follows:

Wildlife photographer David Slater was visiting a national park in North Sulawesi to photograph the wildlife. His subject was a group of crested black macaques, and when he left his camera unattended, the primates took advantage of the opportunity. Apparently attracted by the reflection and the noise the camera made when activated (the implications of the macaques doing this because they were interested in photography are too disturbing to contemplate, so I won’t),  one macaque took hundreds of photos of itself. Most were blurry and out of focus, just like the pictures my dad took, but a few were superb selfies that would have Ellen DeGeneres eating her heart out.

Wikimedia took the clear images off of Slater’s website, adding them to its collection of royalty-free graphic, and sending them all over the web as a result.  Slater now demands that the images be taken down or that he be paid for them. While Wikimedia argues that either the monkey owns the copyright for the photos or nobody does, the photographer claims that being the owner of the camera, and the artist who created the circumstances under which the macaque was inspired to release his inner Richard Avedon, he alone is the owner of the photographs.

As you might expect, copyright law is unclear on the issue of lower primate selfies, an art form that was not anticipated as the law evolved. I don’t care about that: today’s Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz is about fairness:

Should Slater have full ownership of the macaque’s creations?

Continue reading

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Filed under Animals, Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Law & Law Enforcement, Professions, Uncategorized

Police Misconduct, Professional Courtesy, and the Insideous Virtue of Loyalty

"No, I still have your back...I'm just going to have to give you a speeding ticket, that's all!"

“No, I still have your back…I’m just going to have to give you a speeding ticket, that’s all!”

In 2011, Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Donna Jane Watts pulled over—after a brief chase– an off-duty Miami police officer whose vehicle she clocked at over 120 mph. Lead-footed officer Fausto Lopez explained to Watts that he was late for an off-duty job. The tradition among police, as in other professions (like the law and politics), is to extend “professional courtesy” in such situations, or as I call it, unwarranted privilege and corruption.

 Watts, however, arrested Lopez, who had a history of reckless driving, and he was eventually fired. Continue reading

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Filed under Law & Law Enforcement, Professions, Workplace

Is There An “Almost Naked Lovely Lawyer Principle”?

cathy-mccarthy

Not really.

But it’s complicated.

Cathy McCarthy (above) is a 2013 graduate of Loyola Law School-Los Angeles, and she is sounding the clarion call for the right of bikini model-lawyers to be taken seriously. She wrote…

I graduated law school a year ago after receiving an academic scholarship and passed the California Bar last November on my first try. I am also a model and have had moderate success, building fan base of over 26,000 people where I do mostly bikini promotions. Does this make me better or worse at my job? According to some people, it makes me unable to be taken “seriously” in the business community. In fact, two weeks ago, I was reprimanded by a coworker for my online presence and was told to “handle the situation.”I fought back and was ultimately let off the hook, but this is not the first time that I have faced backlash from colleagues who think that a lawyer should not also get the privilege of “looking hot in a bikini.”

Unlike the case with primary and secondary school teachers, where a published presence on the web that is sexually provocative can interfere with a healthy student-teacher relationship, there is no automatic impediment to a lawyer client relationship posed by the lawyer moonlighting as a bikini model, a fold-out, or even a porn star. The profession acknowledges this in several legal ethics opinions affirming lawyers’ First Amendment rights. Lawyers can express themselves any way they choose, provided that it does not undermine their ability to represent their clients in any way. Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Gender and Sex, Law & Law Enforcement, Professions, The Internet, Workplace

Woody Allen, James Shigata, And Diversity Casting Ethics

You have no idea who this is, do you? Well, it shouldn't have turned out  that way...

You have no idea who this is, do you? Well, it shouldn’t have turned out that way…

I’m sure you heard about James Garner’s recent death, but were you aware of James Shigata’s passing? Shigata, who died July 28 at the age of 85, was a contemporary of Garner’s, a superb actor, and like Garner, a leading man with leading man looks. James Shigata, however, was of Asian descent, though American through and through, and never escaped the perceived limitations of the shape of his eyes. Though he had a starring role in the hit film adaption of  the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical “Flower Drum Song” and routinely received critical acclaim for all of his film work, but though he got roles on television through the ’80s, he never was able to break through the typecasting straightjacket that deemed him only suitable for “Asian” roles. If you remember him as all, it is probably as the brave Japanese executive shot by Allan Rickman in “Die Hard.”

I thought about Shigata when I read a piece in Salon, noting that director Woody Allen didn’t cast African-Americans in his movies, and that his explanation why didn’t justify the neglect. Prachi Gupta writes, Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Popular Culture, Professions, Race, U.S. Society, Workplace

More Bad Law Ethics: Integrity Test Coming For The Judiciary On Obamacare

"Dear Courts: We intend this mess to be a big, perfect, beautiful palace. Please let us know when its finished.       Your Friend, Congress"

“Dear Courts: We intend this mess to be a big, perfect, beautiful palace. Please let us know when its finished.
Your Friend, Congress.”

In a recent post, I explained how the incompetent drafting and reckless manner in which the Affordable Care Act was passed has corrupted every branch of the government as well as damaged our system and the public’s faith in it. Affordable Care Act supporters continue to desperately try to excuse, fix, and rationalize this disgracefully bad law. Next up is an integrity test for the judiciary, as the legal argument against the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit’s decision in Halbig v. Burwell becomes untenable.

If the two judges on the three judge panel were correct, and it appears they were, then a drafting miscalculation in the ACA has rendered the health care overhaul unworkable, meaning that it can’t be fixed, constitutionally at least, by Executive Orders, waivers, delays or lies, like so much else connected to the legislation. It will have to be addressed the old-fashioned—as in “according to the Constitution”—way, or not fixed at all. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Health and Medicine, Incompetent Elected Officials, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Professions