This Prosecutor Was Fired For A Non-Apology Apology, But He Should Have Been Fired Long, Long Before That

Bias bone or no bias bone? Wait---WHAT THE HELL IS A BIAS BONE???

Does Karl Price have a bias bone or no bias bone? Wait—WHAT THE HELL IS A BIAS BONE???

Karl Price, up until recently an assistant Jefferson County (Kentucky) district attorney,  was suspended last month for making derogatory remarks in court about gays, immigrants and the disabled.  First he was reprimanded for disparaging a Korean American family, but The Courier-Journal published a story showing that Price had denigrated defendants  in court many times and had even been admonished for it by judges. This prompted a review by the county attorney’s office that turned up more such incidents. One example: At an arraignment of a black defendant who was caught after running away from police, Price, an African-American, said, “I thought you black guys could run, but you never get away from police!”

Query: What kind of supervisor only finds out about long-term misconduct by an employee in public proceedings after reading about it in the local newspaper?

County Attorney Mike O’Connell offered Price, who had worked as an assistant prosecutor in the office for 25 years (“without complaint,” we are told, which may only mean the newspapers didn’t report the complaints)  a chance to keep his job if he submitted a sufficient apology for his conduct. Price submitted a letter that qualifies as a Level 9 or 10 on the Ethics Alarms Apology Scale. It was  a “deceitful apology, in which the wording of the apology is crafted to appear apologetic when it is not (#9) as well as “an insincere and dishonest apology designed to allow the wrongdoer to escape accountability cheaply.” (#10).

Price guaranteed the #9 rating when he began his apology by including the magic phrase, “if I have offended anyone…” He cemented a #10 rating by loading his letter with rationalizations. He wrote that he had been treated unfairly, arguing that other prosecutors have been given “several second chances” [Rationalization 39. The Pioneer’s Lament, or “Why should I be the first?”] and that his predecessor in arraignment court said “far more outrageous” things than he did [Rationalization Number 1: Everybody Does It].

Then this:

“When I look at this whole situation; I have not committed a crime [Rationalization #22: Comparative Virtue or “It’s not the worst thing!”]  I have not violated the rules of professional responsibility [ Rationalization 5: The Compliance Dodge] …I can go to bed with the level for the rest of my life because I know there are victims out there who appreciate it.” [#13. The Saint’s Excuse: “It’s for a good cause”]

O’Connell wrote in Price’s termination letter that his rationalization-fest was “not an apology at all. It is a hollow gesture and certainly not an unconditional apology.”

At least O’Connell got that right. However, I don’t understand why Price was allowed to stay in his job so long, or even hired in the first place. Although only a few sections of his letter have been made public, those that have show that Price is illiterate. The letter is riddled with grammatical errors. If Price takes so little care authoring a document designed to save his career, what kind of legal work does he produce for the County? In the section quoted above, for example, what does “I can go to bed with the level for the rest of my life” mean?  At the end of his letter, Price writes, “if there is more you want, I am prepared to accept your threat of termination, if that is the wishes of the office.”  Elsewhere, Price swears that he doesn’t have a “bias bone” in his body.

For 25 years, the fact that Price couldn’t write, couldn’t reason and didn’t know the difference between a genuine argument and a rationalization didn’t matter to a government that employed him to enforce the law, but once proof that he was prone to making racial comments came to light, he was in big trouble.

___________________________

Pointer:  ABA Journal

Sources: Courier-JournalWDRB,

6 thoughts on “This Prosecutor Was Fired For A Non-Apology Apology, But He Should Have Been Fired Long, Long Before That

  1. “Query: What kind of supervisor only finds out about long-term misconduct by an employee in public proceedings after reading about it in the local newspaper?”

    “Now cut that out!”

  2. For 25 years, the fact that Price couldn’t write, couldn’t reason and didn’t know the difference between a genuine argument and a rationalization didn’t matter to a government that employed him to enforce the law, but once proof that he was prone to making racial comments came to light, he was in big trouble.

    This pretty much represents a fair number of Louisville’s public servants, sad to say. Living here is a laugh a minute.

    I’m sure it’s no different elsewhere, though.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.