Category Archives: Professions

If Bill Cosby Were An Incredibly Unethical Lawyer…

"Hypnotism 101" isn't required in law school, but it's recommended...

“Hypnotism 101″ isn’t required in law school, but it’s recommended…

…he might be Michael Fine, 57, a Sheffield, Ohio attorney who has an even more effective method for raping women that the Cos’s drug-and-drink trick.  Police say that Fine convinced female clients to let him hypnotize them, and then had sex with them while instructing them to forget everything but their legal discussions. He  agreed to have his law license suspended temporarily while the Lorain County Bar Association and  the Ohio Supreme Court deal with the results of the police investigation, or perhaps until he can hypnotize all of them and make them forget the whole thing. Or believe they are chickens or something.

Fine allegedly told the women that his hypnotic machinations were a meditation and relaxation technique that he used to help his clients. Bear with me: I don’t want to make light of rape, but this whole story sounds like a really silly Charlie Chan movie. Unfortunately, it appears to be true. Continue reading

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Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Gender and Sex, Law & Law Enforcement, Professions, U.S. Society

The Bill Cosby Follies: Idiotic Blog Post, Atrocious Apology, Lame Justification…Thanks, “TheWrap,” For This Lesson In First Amendment Abuse

thewrap-logo

TheWrap is a web Hollywood news and gossip site. Picture TMZ crossed with Gawker.  It published an immediate candidate for the most unethical blog post of the year, always a closely contested category, a piece of cyber-offal by an industry writer named Rich Stellar that issued a combined attack on the women coming forward to prove Bill Cosby is a serial rapist, and the media’s coverage of it. I was happily unaware of Stellar, barely aware of The Wrap and definitely unaware of this utter crap until it was flagged in a Salon piece, which was in turn flagged by one of my indispensable scouts, Fred. What unfolded before me was a horrible spectacle of a despicably and dumber than a box of rocks opinion piece that no competent editor should allow to avoid the trash, a subsequent apology of sorts from the writer that shows such an ethics deficit that he should probably have a 24-hour keeper, and, finally, his editor’s defense of her wretched editorial judgment based on the theory of the First Amendment, which she appears to think means “You have to publish any garbage any fool writes no matter how poorly conceived or reasoned, or you are unAmerican.”  But I am getting ahead of myself.

The Blog Post.

Read it all if you dare. Here’s Stellar’s money quote, which distills most of the cretinism without forcing you into Hell: Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Gender and Sex, Journalism & Media, Jumbo, Popular Culture, Professions, The Internet, Unethical Blog Post

Unthical Quote of the Week: Bill Cosby Attorney Martin Singer

lying-lawyers“The new, never-before-heard claims from women who have come forward in the past two weeks with unsubstantiated, fantastical stories about things they say occurred 30, 40 or even 50 years ago have escalated past the point of absurdity.These brand new claims about alleged decades-old events are becoming increasingly ridiculous, and it is completely illogical that so many people would have said nothing, done nothing and made no reports to law enforcement or asserted civil claims if they thought they had been assaulted over a span of so many years.  Lawsuits are filed against people in the public eye every day. There has never been a shortage of lawyers willing to represent people with claims against rich, powerful men, so it makes no sense that not one of these new women who just came forward for the first time now ever asserted a legal claim back at the time they alleged they had been sexually assaulted. This situation is an unprecedented example of the media’s breakneck rush to run stories without any corroboration or adherence to traditional journalistic standards. Over and over again, we have refuted these new unsubstantiated stories with documentary evidence, only to have a new uncorroborated story crop up out of the woodwork. When will it end?

—-Martin Singer, one of comedian Bill Cosby’s lawyers, trying to quell the public relations storm that threatens to blow the 77-year-old icon’s career and reputation apart.

Wow.

I advise lawyers not to make sweeping, emphatic statements like this, for several reasons. First, it comes very close to violating the ethical prohibition against dishonesty, misrepresentation, fraud and deceit. If the lawyer wants to say such words on behalf of his client, that’s one thing, and legitimate representation, though I would prefer to see such statements come from a publicist. For Singer to say something like this on his own behalf, however, harms all of his other clients by scarring his credibility. I don’t believe him, and when it becomes indisputable that Cosby is guilty and that his lawyers had to know, no one will be able to believe him again. Lawyers are supposed to tell the truth, and to represent even the most despicable clients without behaving unethically themselves, within the standards of the profession. That can be difficult, as in this instance. That is why lawyers get the big bucks, however. They should be able to walk that tightrope.

Singer falls right off: Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Ethics Quotes, Gender and Sex, Professions

Now THIS Is An Incompetent Lawyer

Now that's who you want defending you in your capital murder trial..Thomas Jeffer..wait, WHAT???

Now that’s who you want defending you in your capital murder trial..Thomas Jeffer..wait, WHAT???

Dennis Hawver, an Ozawkie, Kansas attorney, was disbarred last week by the Kansas Supreme Court. The court ruled that Hawver showed “inexplicable incompetence” as a defense attorney for Phillip Cheatham, charged with first degree murder and tried in a 2005.  Cheatham’s conviction was overturned and  a new trial was ordered  in 2013, on the grounds that Hawver did not provide an adequate defense and thus Cheatham did not receive a fair trial. Yes, I think that was a fair assessment, given that..

  • In voir dire, Hawver told prospective jurors that his client was “a cocaine dealer” who had “killed another cocaine dealer with a gun.”
  • During the trial, he informed the jury that his client had previously been convicted of voluntary manslaughter, even though prosecutors had agreed to less prejudicial  stipulation that the Cheatham had a “prior felony conviction” without further details.
  • Hawlor failed to present evidence that might have shown that his client that was not in the city where the murder occurred at the time it occurred. He failed to investigate alibi witnesses.
  • He didn’t track his client’s cellphone to find his location at the time of the murders.
  • During the sentencing phase of the trial, after his client had been found guilty, Hawlor said “the killer” should be executed.

 

  • Hawver  made the creative argument at trial that his client would never have left a witness alive if he had been the one who shot the two female victims.

Continue reading

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Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Law & Law Enforcement, Professions

Now THIS Is Abuse Of Police Power

Andy and Opie

No riots are anticipated, fortunately.

Police Lt. Brian Keller, an assistant sheriff,  used his unmarked black Dodge Charger, with emergency lights flashing, to stop a school bus so he could hand his son his lunch, which the boy left home without. The bus was not within Keller’s jurisdiction….not that his actions would be much better it it has been.

There was a complaint,  which Lake County (Illinois) officials are investigating.

This is the kind of thing Sheriff Andy Taylor might have done for Opie in little Mayberry, but such abuse of power is neither cute nor funny outside of TV Land. I don’t care if he’s a single dad (like Andy); it doesn’t even matter if the kid had crucial, life saving prescription drugs in the lunch bag—insulin, maybe. Using official authority for a personal matter like this is the sign of an untrustworthy cop who doesn’t comprehend his job. It is small wonder that police labor under the public presumption that they don’t respect the law or the limitations of their authority.

___________________

Pointer: Mediaite

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Filed under Character, Childhood and children, Family, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Popular Culture, Professions

Two Deceitful Non-Denial Denials And An Unethically Tardy Whistleblower

Francis

TV shows like “Lie to Me” and “The Mentalist” as well as all the profiling shows like “Criminal Minds” have done a public service by schooling viewers in the tell-tale signs of non-denial denials. Nonetheless, people continue to use them, apparently because they work. Bill Cosby’s lawyers just launched a lulu, responding to the inexplicably re-booted accusations that Cosby was a serial sexual predator in the 70’s. You can’t get more non-denial than this, from lawyer John P. Schmitt on Cosby’s website:

“Over the last several weeks, decade-old, discredited allegations against Mr. Cosby have resurfaced. The fact that they are being repeated does not make them true..Mr. Cosby does not intend to dignify these allegations with any comment.”

There is no denial of the alleged rapes to be found here. Yes, the accusations are “decades old”: So what?  So are questions about whether Lizzie Borden was guilty.  The fact that the allegation are decades old means Cosby can’t be prosecuted because of the statute of limitations, but they don’t change anything about the seriousness of the accusations against the erstwhile “America’s Dad.”

Discredited? How have they been discredited? Cosby paid a settlement in one of the cases: that generally makes the allegations look credible (See: Paula Jones/Bill Clinton; Michael Jackson). Sure: “The fact that they are being repeated does not make them true,” and it also doesn’t make them false. That Cosby doesn’t intend to “dignify” the matter with further comment is strategy and posturing. It is significant that the lawyer did not say “He didn’t do it.”

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[UPDATE: Ah HA! Today that statement was taken down, with this taking its place, a joint statement from Dolores Troiani, counsel to Andrea Constand, and Schmitt:

‘The statement released by Mr. Cosby’s attorney over the weekend was not intended to refer in any way to Andrea Constand. As previously reported, differences between Mr. Cosby and Ms. Constand were resolved to the mutual satisfaction of Mr. Cosby and Ms. Constand years ago. Neither Mr. Cosby nor Ms. Constand intends to comment further on the matter.”

Translation: “Oops. That settlement with the first of Cosby’s accusers was predicated on neither party impugning or accusing the other once the money was paid, and that “discredited” comment risked getting Bill in even more hot water. Never mind!”]

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Lawyers aren’t permitted to lie, though. Then again, they aren’t supposed to mislead the public with deceitful non-denials, either.

Then we have CNBC’s response to ex-CNBC reporter Melissa Francis, who followed Jonathan Gruber’s admissions of rigged math to get the Affordable Care Act past “stupid voters” with a relevant anecdote of her own. Francis, now a Fox Business anchor,  claims that the network “silenced” her when she questioned the merits and specifically the misleading numbers for the Affordable Care Act when it was being rammed through the legislative process. She told Fox News that she was called on the carpet by CNBC brass and told to stop, on the grounds that such criticism was “disrespectful to the President.”

A CNBC representative responded: Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Character, Ethics Train Wrecks, Gender and Sex, Health and Medicine, Journalism & Media, Professions, Workplace

Unethical Quote Of The Month (Lawyer Representing A Hypocritical And Unethical Client Division): Keith Wyatt

“She lied to her mother so she could have sex with her teacher. She went to a motel in which she engaged in voluntary consensual sex with her teacher. Why shouldn’t she be responsible for that?”

—-Lawyer Keith Wyatt, L.A. Unified School District’s trial attorney who successfully defended it in a law suit by the family of a middle school girl who had been engaged in a six month sexual relationship with her math teacher. The girl’s family claimed the district negligently permitted the teacher’s criminal conduct to occur and that the teacher’s exploitation of the girl had caused emotional damage to their daughter. Wyatt also told a radio interviewer that it was a more dangerous for a 14-year-old to cross a street in traffic than to have sex with her middle-school teacher.

Yes, he’s an idiot.

Yeah, those middle school tarts all want it, right, Keith?

Yeah, those middle school tarts all want it, right, Keith?

The school district fired him, disavowing and apologizing for his comments. Yet they were willing to let Wyatt argue in court—on the school’s behalf, remember— that a 14-year-old middle school student was mature enough to consent to having sex with her 28-year-old teacher, and that she shared responsibility for what happened. Wyatt introduced the girl’s sexual history into evidence as proof of his client’s lack of culpability.

There is nothing wrong or unethical about Wyatt’s tactics in the trial itself. State law is weird in this area—this is California, after all, home of Hollywood, Roman Polanski fans, Woody Allen enablers, Miley Cyrus and the Kardashians—for while the age of consent is 18 in criminal cases, two appellate court rulings have held that the argument that a minor can consent to sex with an adult is permissible in civil law suits. He did what the law permitted him to do in defense of his client. That’s not just ethical lawyering, it is at the core of legal ethics. The argument won. Wyatt did what he was trained to do, paid to do, and obligated to do if he agreed to take the case

However, it is a revolting and irresponsible argument for any school or school district to make. Wyatt should have made this clear, and maybe he did (though that quote doesn’t support such a supposition.) Who in their right mind–well, OK, this is L.A.–would send their child to a school system that takes the position that a 14-year-old student is responsible when she is raped by her 28-year-old teacher, and that she’s really not being harmed if he does? The teacher, Elkis Hermida, was convicted of lewd acts against a child and sentenced in July 2011 to three years in state prison.  Continue reading

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Filed under Childhood and children, Education, Ethics Quotes, Gender and Sex, Law & Law Enforcement, Professions