“This is a great community college, you know?”
I’m willing to entertain the notion that the exigencies of the situation may have justified Boston’s police ordering citizens to stay in their homes during the dragnet for the Boston Marathon bombers in 2013, Barely. Still, the explosion of extra-legal, unconstitutional abuses of power by national and state governments during the Presidency of Barack Obama is profoundly troubling, and even more so is the complacency of the public and media when it occurs.
Yes indeed, I see this particularly frightening fish-rot as being initiated from the head in the White House, who has embraced the governing theory that if consensus and compromise on desired measures, laws and policies can’t be achieved under the Constitution’s formula, do it anyway. This isn’t strength, you know. It is weakness, the desperate resort of an unskilled executive with contempt for democracy. Under this administration, we have seen a President and a Justice department refuse to fulfill their duties and defend a duly passed and signed law that they just didn’t like (DOMA). Wrong. We have seen a President unilaterally amend his own sloppy health care law because he knows that if he tried to fix it legally, the Congress would gut it. Wrong. We have seen Obama repeal immigration restrictions by executive order, and declare that the Senate was in recess in order to avoid the bother of getting legally mandated confirmation of his appointments—that one, at least, was struck down by the Supreme Court.
The cumulative effect of all of this is gradually increasing public tolerance for official breaches of the rule of law, at all levels of government, and by private entities too. I believe that that this threatens the democratic culture, and I do not understand why progressives are not as outraged by this development as moderates and conservatives. Do they really think that having allowed Constitutional protections to erode so their precious agenda can be advanced, those protections will be suddenly vigorous again when their adversaries have the upper hand? What utter, utter fools:
The sickening effect of this complacency was on display at Kirkwood Community College in Monticello, Iowa, where Hillary Clinton spoke yesterday. Students told reporters that the Secret Service locked them in their classrooms as the Democratic presidential candidate arrived. Continue reading
Charles Green helpfully sent me the link to today’s New York Times piece documenting how…
“the imbalance in legal firepower in the same-sex marriage cases resulted from a conviction among many lawyers that opposition to such unions is bigotry akin to racism. But there were economic calculations, too. Law firms that defend traditional marriage may lose clients and find themselves at a disadvantage in hiring new lawyers.”
“Am I right that something’s quite amiss here?” he asks. Indeed he is, and I’ve touched on it before.
There are several factors at work here, but the result is deplorable, and indictment of the corrupt values of the legal profession. One of the factors is bias, and it is a bias that the lawyers themselves are either unaware of, or are unwilling to avoid its effects as their professional codes of ethics require.
The majority of high-powered lawyers hail from urban centers where liberal culture flourishes among the wealthy, the powerful and the influential. These are cosmopolitan lawyers, sophisticated and urbane, who have gay colleagues, gay friends and gay children. They are less likely to be religious, and more likely to have contempt for those who are. Combine with them the legal academics who drive consensus on legal ethics matters—like most academics, they have marinated in the extreme leftist attitudes of U.S. academia—and it becomes clear why, as Michael W. McConnell, a former federal appeals court judge who teaches law at Stanford, tells the Times, “The level of sheer desire to crush dissent is pretty unprecedented.”
I noticed this in 2011, when the legal ethicists I follow, know and debate with decreed virtually en masse that a judge who was not only gay himself but in a long term domestic relationship with his partner had no ethical obligation to recuse himself before he issued the decision on the constitutionality of California’s anti-same sex marriage Proposition 8. Nor did they feel he was ethically obligated to disclose his situation before ruling. I wrote: Continue reading
Professional Tip: Lawyers, it’s unethical to do this to your clients!
When a lawyer believes that representing a client is something that he or she cannot do effectively, either because of a deep personal bias against the client, another conflict of interest, a reasonable belief that the client is untrustworthy or unmanageable, or some other good reason, his duty is to withdraw from the representation. Believing or even knowing that the client is guilty is not a good reason. Guilty clients have rights, the system demands a competent defense, and sometimes—rarely, but it happens—a lawyer can be surprised to find out that his “guilty” client isn’t guilty after all.
Withdrawal from a representation is appropriate and allowed in the circumstances defined by ABA Rule 1.16: Continue reading
Oh NO!!! Tucker Carlson is trapped by a conflict of interest! I’m coming, Tucker…just hold on! I’M COMING!!!!
Tucker Carlson is the founder and publisher of the conservative commentary and news site, The Daily Caller. In this post, I recently discussed Carlson’s ethical obtuseness in pulling a column by a Daily Caller contributor because it criticized Fox News, where Carlson has a gig as a weekend host of the network’s embarrassing happy conservative talk morning news show. I wrote,
The conflicts of interest on display here, the insensitivity to them, and the lack of any pretense of journalistic fairness or integrity is staggering. Carlson has placed The Daily Caller in the same, discredited ethics no-man’s land of Media Matters, Move-on.org, the Daily Kos and other sites that blatantly distort the news and their commentary on it for specific, ideological and personal agendas, and a personal agenda is the most unethical and cynical conflict of all. Carlson likes his Fox paycheck, apparently. Well, then, his ethical obligation is to have an independent journalist edit his website. In the alternative, he needs to refuse to work for Fox unless the network agrees to allow him full reign to say and write what he believes on his website, and to allow others to do so as well.
Apparently Carlson doesn’t read Ethics Alarms—I am shocked and disappointed—and moreover, has the imagination and ethics problem-solving skills of a banana slug. Mediaite reports that he was discussing his ethics problem with RealClearPolitics, and admitted that he was totally flummoxed about what to do, poor dear:
“I have two rules,” Carlson said, “One is you can’t criticize the families of the people who work here, and the other is you can’t go after Fox” because he works there. Sigh. “Yes, it’s a conflict, for sure…but I don’t know what to do about it.” Continue reading
Conservative blogger Mickey Kaus wrote a piece criticizing Fox News for not meeting its obligation (as Kaus sees it) to take on the role of media opposition on the issues of illegal immigration and amnesty, and instead, as Kaus told Politico, “filling up the airwaves with reports on ISIS and terrorism.” (Kaus is wrong, but never mind) Kaus posted his commentary on the DC only to discover later that Daily Caller founder and editor Tucker Carlson had taken it down. Carlson’s explanation: “We can’t trash Fox on the site. I work there.'”
Indeed, Carlson, who co-founded The Daily Caller in 2010, is a conservative contributor to Fox News as well as the host of its weekend edition of “Fox & Friends,” on which he has been known to fall asleep on the air. Carlson told Kaus that the ‘no criticizing Fox News, ever’ policy was an unwaivable rule.
Kaus quit, as he should have.
The conflicts of interest on display here, the insensitivity to them, and the lack of any pretense of journalistic fairness or integrity is staggering. Carlson has placed The Daily Caller in the same, discredited ethics no-man’s land of Media Matters, Move-on.org, the Daily Kos and other sites that blatantly distort the news and their commentary on it for specific, ideological and personal agendas, and a personal agenda is the most unethical and cynical conflict of all. Carlson likes his Fox paycheck, apparently. Well, then, his ethical obligation is to have an independent journalist edit his website. In the alternative, he needs to refuse to work for Fox unless the network agrees to allow him full reign to say and write what he believes on his website, and to allow others to do so as well. Continue reading
When “judge not lest you be judged” is really good advice…
Meet Ferguson Judge Ronald J. Brockmeyer. He has been Ferguson’s municipal court judge for 12 years and serves simultaneously as a prosecutor in two nearby cities, as well as a private attorney. This is not as unusual a situation as you might think in rural areas, but it is certainly a fertile one for conflicts of interest, unless the busy individual is trustworthy and ethical.
This description would not seem to apply to this judge. While the Justice Department is alleging that his court in Ferguson, Mo. has reinstated the deplorable tradition of debtor’s prison, sending poor citizens of the city to jail for not paying fines they have no money to pay, Brockmeyer personally owes the US government $172,646 in taxes.
Federal tax liens filed against Brockmeyer by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) state that he has tens of thousands of dollars in overdue personal income taxes from joint filings with his wife, Amy, and owes tens of thousands in employer taxes for his law firm.
Justice? Compassion? Empathy? Fairness? Integrity? Trustworthiness? Don’t look for any of those from the judiciary in Ferguson. How amused Judge Brockmeyer must have been to see Darren Wilson vilified, while his villainy passed unnoticed.
“Hands up, Don’t shoot,” being a lie, is no longer even an arguably legitimate rallying cry for the kind of systemic wrong the people of Ferguson have endured. Surely this despicable and cruel hypocrite can inspire a better one.
Pointer: Lucian Pera