I try to keep my legal ethics seminars up-to-the-minute, so while preparing for yesterday’s session with the Appellate Section of the Indiana Bar, I came across a bunch of entertaining stories in which the ethics were a lot clearer than the law, or vice-versa. All of them could and perhaps should sustain separate posts; indeed, I could probably devote the blog entirely to such cases.
Here are my four favorites from the past week’s legal news, involving a mother-son lawsuit, a brazenly unethical attorney general, a college scoreboard named after a crook, and police officer’s sense of humor: Continue reading
Filed under Business & Commercial, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Family, Finance, Government & Politics, Humor and Satire, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Marketing and Advertising, Professions, Rights, Sports, U.S. Society
You tell it like it is, Chris!
“Y’all not all going to do the right stuff, I got to teach y’all how to get around all this stuff, too. If you going to have a crew, one of those fools got to know he’s going to jail. We’ll get him out. If you going to have a crew, make sure they understand can’t nothing happen to you. Your name can’t be in lights, under no circumstances…In case y’all not going to decide to do the right thing, if y’all got a crew, you got to have a fall guy in the crew.”
—NFL Hall of Famer Chris Carter, speaking to first year NFL players in a 2014 league-sponsored rookie symposium to help them “adapt to professional football.” His advice was then echoed by fellow Hall of Famer Warren Sapp.
That the NFL’s retired role models and immortals were–Have been? Still are?—giving out such toxic and unethical “wisdom” under the league’s auspices went unnoticed until a recently retired player,the 49ers’ Chris Borland who quit after just one season because he feared brain damage, referenced Carter’s speech on ESPN. Not only did the NFL’s speakers instruct its rookies to make sure they have a designated “fall guy” if they decide to break the law, it had Carter’s speech on its website all this time.
Now it’s all about damage control, of course. ESPN, which currently employs this ethics-challenged “sportsman” as an analyst, said in a statement… Continue reading
The King’s Pass is among the most corrosive of the many unethical rationalizations. Also known as “The Star Syndrome,” this conduct and this sensibility rots organizations, large and small, public and private. It destroys trust and undermines loyalty and performance. The rationalization, which essentially holds that the enforcement of laws, rules and policies should be withheld against the most powerful, the most popular, the most accomplished and the most productive members of an organization on the theory that they are too valuable to lose, is essentially un-American, defying the national principle that all are created equal, and that the laws apply with equal force to everyone, large and small. The King’s Pass isn’t driven by ethics, but by non-ethical considerations overcoming ethics. An organization that jettisons a star will often suffer itself. Management may be criticized, and the sports team, the institution, company, government agency—or nation— that loses its star might suffer substantially with the removal of a significant asset. Yet not insisting on accountability from a misbehaving or even corrupt “star” will have far worse consequences over time.
Sam Ukwuachu, a former freshman All-American at Boise State University before transferring to play football at Baylor University, was convicted this week of sexually assaulting a former Baylor soccer player in 2013. Jurors in Waco’s 54th State District Court found the 22-year-old Baylor defensive end guilty of one count of sexual assault, but it was the revelation of Baylor’s cover-up that ought to resonate.
Shortly before my father died, and a little more than a year before she did, my mother made a series of jaw-dropping statements in a conversation with me and Dad. “You mean to tell me that I could wake up one morning, feeling fine, and then just drop dead later that same day?”
My father actually did a Danny Thomas spit-take with his coke.
“What??” said my father, who saw this occur to a lot of people during the war. “Of course! We’re over 80! It can happen any second! It always can happen any second! People die, every day, for no reason, suddenly, stupidly all the time!”
“Well, I just refuse to accept that!” said my mother, who really did think that she had a right to live forever.
For some reason Mom came to mind when I read that the National Baseball Congress had decided that it will not use bat boys or bat girls for the remainder of its World Series games in Wichita following the death of 9-year-old Kaiser Carlile. The bat boy for the Liberal (Kansas) Bee Jays died Sunday, a day after a freak accident in which the boy was struck in the head by the swing of a player warming up near the on-deck circle. Though he was wearing a helmet and was immediately treated by home plate umpire Mark Goldfeder, a paramedic, the injuries inflicted by the bat proved fatal.
Some baseball ethics musings on the night of the All-Star Game:
1. Why is MLB going ahead with letting Pete Rose take a bow at the All-Star Game? This made sense–barely–when it was announced, since Pete is a hometown hero despite being a rest-of-the-world slime-ball. But after that announcement, it was revealed that Rose had bet on baseball as a player, thus rendering all of his statements to the contrary the lies they were. He should have been banned from the game just to make sure this latest revelation of his sliminess adds something to his punishment.
2. The best ethics controversy of the 2015 season’s first half? This: Washington National pitcher Max Scherzer was one strike away from a perfect game, leading the Pirates in a 6-0 win, but hit Jose Tabata with a pitch to make it “only” an-hitter. A perfect game is 27 consecutive, outs, and the most difficult feat in baseball. Tabata had fouled off four pitches, before he was hit on the elbow. Many believed that he that Tabata allowed the ball to hit him intentionally, just to wreck the masterpiece. This violates one of the “unwritten rules” of baseball, which are ethics rules. After all, any perfect game could be ruined the same way, and the pitcher is powerless to stop it. This is correctly deemed to be unfair to the pitcher, the fans, and the game.
Real rules also are involved. A batter hit by a pitch is supposed to be awarded first base only if he attempts to avoid a pitch or doesn’t have an opportunity to avoid it. If the ball is in the strike zone when it hits the batter, it should be called a strike, according to the Rule Book: “If the ball is outside the strike zone when it touches the batter, it shall be called a ball if he makes no attempt to avoid being touched.” (Rule 6.08(b).)
Thus home plate umpire Mike Muchlinski could have awarded Tabata a ball to make it a 3-2 count if he felt Tabata should have gotten out of the way.
Using computer technology to exceed the voting limitations of Major League Baseballs (sloppy, naive, badly-conceived) on-line voting rules to elect the American and National League All-Star teams, some Kansas City hackers managed to flood the virtual ballot box with enough votes to elect four Royals players to the squad (after a brief, frightening period when it looked like they would elect eight). Two of the starting Royal All-Stars, shortstop Alcides Escobar and catcher Salvador Perez, are clearly bogus victors who owe their slots and bonus provisions to the cheating ways of a couple of computer savvy fans—or, perhaps, a couple of assholes who distorted the vote, weakened the team, lessened the quality of the game and forced deserving players off the team because they could, to puff up their little pigeon chests with hacker pride.
Every year, MLB hold a supplemental election to let the fans choose among five candidates in each league who have impressive records but haven’t made the All-Star squad. That one is online only, and unlike the main vote, there are no limits to voting. With typical sensitivity (I don’t think the MLB’s leadership could define what cheating is with a gun at their heads), the brass ignored the obvious fact that someone in Kansas City was making a travesty out of the process, and paved the way for him/them/it to do it again. Sure enough, the one Royal on the list of candidates for the final slot, 3rd baseman Mike Moustakas, is leading the early returns. There are already six Royals on the team, not counting the manager, Ned Yost. Of course, MLB could have avoided this obvious problem by leaving Royals off the American League’s final five. Naaaa. That would make sense. Continue reading