Category Archives: Professions

When Law Co-Opts Ethics: Florida’s Unconstitutional Pro-Gun Doctor Gag Law Upheld

Unbelievable!

“See doc? That’s what you get for shooting your mouth off! Get it?”

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.

Kidding.

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Pointer: Legal Ethics Forum

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Filed under Citizenship, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Professions, Rights

Legally Competent, Ethically Bankrupt: The Zealous, Despicable Monique Pressley, Esq.

cosby-women-new-york-magazine-w724

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.

Brava!

Also, Yeeccch!

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

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Train Wrecks, Gender and Sex, Law & Law Enforcement, Professions

Ethics Quiz: A Minimum Wage Lecture Instead Of A Tip?

Diners and bar patrons in Seattle are apparently registering their displeasure over the city’s whopping minimum wage hike (to $15 an hour) by leaving this card instead of a tip:

why-i-dont-tip-in-seattle

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz:

Is this an ethical protest?

My view?  There are minimum wage employees in bars and restaurants, but waiters and bartenders often aren’t among them. In the case of the bartender who publicized this patron’s printed rant, we learn, he is not a beneficiary of the minimum wage increase, and his livelihood depends on tips.

A tip, as Ethics Alarms has stated before, should be based on quality of service. To withhold a tip from a server or bartender—which should be message about service—to register an objection regarding the city’s wage statutes is neither logical nor just. Among the card’s three options, the first is completely reasonable, the second is a necessary consequence of living in a democracy, and the third is just behaving like a jerk. I bet the guy that left this card kicks his dog after a bad day too.

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Pointer: Fred

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, Professions, Workplace

“Albuquerque Fire Chief Evaluating Training After Dispatcher Hung Up on Caller”? Why Yes, I Think That Would Be Prudent!

"No...now, see, Mr, Sanchez, this is NOT how we would like you to react with a 911 caller. Let's try it again..."

“No…now, see, Mr, Sanchez, this is NOT how we would like you to react with a 911 caller. Let’s try it again…”

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a hundred times: watch out for touchy 911 dispatchers.

Seventeen-year-old Esperanza Quintero called 911 after her friend Jaydon Chavez-Silver was shot last month. She tried to stop Chavez-Silver’s bleeding and gave him CPR.

“I am keeping him alive!” Quintero is heard saying on the 911 call, which was answered by dispatcher Matthew Sanchez, a ten-year veteran of the Albuquerque Fire Department.

Sanchez asked, “Is he not breathing?”

The teen responded, “Barely!”

On the recording, she can be heard frantically encouraging Chavez-Silver to keep breathing.

“One more breath! One more breath!” Quintero told here wounded friend. “There you go Jaydon. One more breath! There you go Jaydon. Good job! Just stay with me, OK? OK?”

Sanchez then asked again, “Is he breathing?”

Quintero responded, “He is barely breathing, how many times do I have to fucking tell you?”

Apparently this outburst deeply, deeply offended Sanchez, who felt that the use of the vulgarity justified him leaving the panicked teen to deal with her dying friend by herself. “OK, you know what ma’am? You can deal with it yourself. I am not going to deal with this, OK?” the dispatcher said, and he disconnected Quintero as she pleaded for help.

So there.

As you know, I’m a big fan of civility, and we really should discipline ourselves and our children to avoid profanity and  vulgarity in dealings with others, in the workplace or anywhere else. Mutual respect is a cornerstone of ethical conduct generally, and civility is how we recognize the inherent respect we owe every fellow citizen. Having one’s friend dying in front of you is a stressful situation, however, and I think the collective effects for fear, panic, desperation and stress creates sufficient adverse influences on a teen that a lapse of decorum should be excused or at least tolerated, don’t you? Particularly when the listener  is allegedly an adult and trained rescue personnel?

Jaydon died. A rescue squad was dispatched before the hang-up, which only means that what Sanchez did could have been worse.

Albuquerque Fire Chief David Downey  called the actions of dispatcher Matthew Sanchez on June 26 “unforgivable” and said Sanchez, who had the sense to resign, at least, should not have hung up on the caller. Downey  says he is examining the training procedures.

Good analysis. We can all stop worrying now, at least those of us in Albuquerque.

And we should be grateful, should we not, for Mr. Sanchez providing a superb lesson to all of our young people about the important of avoiding potty mouth?

 

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Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Etiquette and manners, Professions, Public Service, Workplace

What A Surprise: Donald Trump Has An Unethical Lawyer!

One of these guys is Donald Trump's lawyer. Maybe both...

One of these guys is Donald Trump’s lawyer. Maybe both…

I realize I run the risk, by publishing this opinion, of Donald Trump’s thuggish, boorish, dolt of lawyer trying to “mess [my] life up … for as long as [I’m] on this frickin’ planet,” to put it in his well-measured, restrained and professional parlance. Well, so be it. Seldom do we see any lawyer befoul the image and dignity of his profession like Michael Cohen, Esquire, one of Donald Trump’s lawyers, did yesterday responding to a Daily Beast story about the dirty linen aired during Trump’s divorce from Ivana Trump over 20 years ago.

Ivana then compared a sexual encounter with her husband to sexual assault and rape,  and The Daily Beast wrote about it, as if Trump wasn’t doing enough already to make any decent American head to the loo at the sight of him. So Trump appointed Cohen as his media spokesman on the matter—just think: he was the best and most professional of the candidates for the job!—and he said this to The Daily Beast… Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Etiquette and manners, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Professions

Jon Stewart’s Betrayal

emergency-clown-nose

Politico has confirmed that on two occasions, Comedy Central’s Now I’m a comic-Now I’m a pundit-Now I’m a journalist Jon Stewart secretly went to the White House to meet with President Obama:

Jon Stewart slipped unnoticed into the White House in the midst of the October 2011 budget fight, summoned to an Oval Office coffee with President Barack Obama that he jokingly told his escort felt like being called into the principal’s office.In February 2014, Obama again requested Stewart make the trip from Manhattan to the White House, this time for a mid-morning visit hours before the president would go before television cameras to warn Russia that “there will be costs” if it made any further military intervention in Ukraine.

To engage privately with the president in his inner sanctum at two sensitive moments — previously unreported meetings that are listed in the White House visitor logs and confirmed to POLITICO by three former Obama aides — speaks volumes about Stewart and his reach, which goes well beyond the million or so viewers who tune into The Daily Show on most weeknights.

It mean rather more than that. The visits mean that what Stewart and Comedy Central represented to the public as independent commentary on public affairs by a wise, critical and trusted truth-teller was in fact state propaganda, dictated by the President of the United States to a messenger of influence. Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Humor and Satire, Journalism & Media, Professions

KABOOM! TNT Promotes A Tainted Prosecutor As A Star

coldjustice

And all this time I believed that TNT reality star Kelly Siegler was a real star prosecutor who had actually convicted guilty people while observing the law and professional ethics.

Kaboom!

head_explodes

That was the sound of my brains exploding through the top of my skull, this time because they deserved to. I never learn.

Or is the state of prosecutorial ethics in the United States so wretched that Kelly Siegler is the best ex-prosecutor that TNT could find?

I’ll stick my neck out and say, “no.” I say that even though the state of prosecutorial ethics is pretty terrible. Kelly Siegler left her job as a Harris County, Texas district attorney in 2008 after successfully prosecuting 68 murder trials. In 2013, TNT signed her up to star in a reality show called“Cold Justice,” now in its third season on the cable network.

Good title! A state-court judge recommended a new trial for a Texas inmate named David Temple, prosecuted by Siegler in 2007  for allegedly killing his pregnant wife. He was convicted, but the court says the “legendary prosecutor” illegally withheld critical exculpatory evidence.  Wrote Judge Larry Gist in his opinion calling for a re-trial: “Of enormous significance was Siegler’s testimony at the habeas hearing that apparently favorable evidence did not need to be disclosed if the state did not believe it was true.”  Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Kaboom!, Law & Law Enforcement, Popular Culture, Professions