Mid-Day Moldy Ethics Snack, 5/8/2019: Bad Charge, Bad School, Bad Father

Yechhh!

1. Do something, blame someone…In Plano, Texas, police have charged Lindsey Glass with violating a law making it a misdemeanor to negligently sell alcohol to a “habitual drunkard or an intoxicated or insane person,.” It seems she served Spencer Hight two gins, two beers and a shot of alcohol during two visits to the bar where she was working in September 2017, before Hight killed Meredith Hight and seven other people. After  police officers shot and killed him, an autopsy found that Hight’s blood alcohol level was about four times the legal limit. The  arrest affidavit said surveillance video shows  that Hight was unsteady, spun a “big knife on the bar,” and could be seen “pulling out a gun” from his waistband.

It’s a terrible charge, and an unethical prosecution.  Glass  texted a co-worker, another bartender, saying that Hight had been spinning the knife and told her had had to go “do some dirty work.” A report by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission said  that the other bartender had called an owner of the bar, who instructed that  police should not be called. Glass was so concerned that followed Hight to his ex-wife’s home and then called 911, according to local station  Fox 4.

A lawyer for Glass emphasized  that his client had called 911 and said she had been commended by police. “It is shameful of the Plano Police Department to go after the person who was vital in trying to stop the horrific events of that evening,” he told Fox 4 and NBC in a statement. Exactly right. Police, spurred by public anger and frustration, want to find someone to blame. The fact that the drunk  went off and killed eight people is pure moral luck. It seems that the bartender went above and beyond her civic duty, at some personal risk, to follow Hight. She was originally commended by police for her actions. [Pointer: ABA Journal]

2.  Another spineless college, undermining speech and education. Ugh. Well, make that Ugh #6,432, 922.

The University of Southern California Law School asked Jeh Johnson, the former Obama Secretary of Homeland Security, to withdraw as its commencement speaker, because Dean Andrew Guzman said that there were “concerns” about his appearance.

“Two Chicano members” of the law faculty, Daria Roithmayr and David Cruz objected  to the invitation because Johnson enforced immigration laws, and honoring him “normalizes illegal state violence” and “legitimates” the “fundamental betrayal of core values.” In a letter, they denounced Johnson as displaying a “morally repugnant willingness to use those who are most vulnerable among us as means to an end.”

You know, like the “end” of enforcing the law.

Dean Andrew Guzman, who pushed Johnson to withdraw, said in a letter posted to the whole school,

“I informed Secretary Johnson that some faculty and students have raised concerns about the immigration policies of the Obama Administration and, therefore, about having him as our commencement speaker. Secretary Johnson shared with me that he believes that graduations should be free of tension and political controversy and for this reason has decided not to speak.”

Johnson is almost as bad as Guzman. Like most of the administration he served in, he’s a weenie, and too willing to concede vital principles for false peace.  He should have stood up for free speech, diversity of opinion, respect for those we disagree with and rejection of the heckler’s veto.

3. Now THIS is an unethical father. I always found the story of how Johann Strauss actively tried to fight his son, Johann Strauss II’s ascension as the new “Waltz King”  the most disgusting story of disloyal and selfish parenting of all time. This isn’t quite as bad—but it’s bad enough.

Lawyer George Sink Sr. is suing George Sink Jr. for using his own name in his new law firm. After Sink Jr. was fired from his father’s firm,  he  set up his own law firm as George Sink II Law Firm, in North Charleston.  Sink Sr. advertises his firm’s 13 offices in South Carolina and Georgia, and is citing copyright law, arguing that since  his son used his middle name “Teddy” while growing up to avoid confusion with his father,  the use of George Sink II in the new firm was meant to confuse the public.  Dad says that he’s lost clients as a result.

What an awful man. Not only is the lawsuit and copyright theory dubious, but what kind of father treats a son this way as he sets out on his own? The answer is “a bad father.”

In his suit, Sink Sr. claims trademark infringement, unfair competition, cybersquatting, unfair trade practice, and dilution, insisting that he is taking this action “to protect consumers of legal services.”   Quips Jonathan Turley: “It seems to be a rather dubious trademark claim to try to block an attorney from using the name that you gave him.”

Bingo.

15 thoughts on “Mid-Day Moldy Ethics Snack, 5/8/2019: Bad Charge, Bad School, Bad Father

  1. 1. Unethical prosecution

    It seems that the bartender went above and beyond her civic duty, at some personal risk, to follow Hight. She was originally commended by police for her actions.

    Indeed. This is a deranged, malicious prosecution. The judge should dismiss this case on the first available motion, and issue as sanction against the DA who filed the charge.

    2. Spineless college

    “Two Chicano members” of the law faculty, Daria Roithmayr and David Cruz objected to the invitation because Johnson enforced immigration laws, and honoring him “normalizes illegal state violence” and “legitimates” the “fundamental betrayal of core values.”

    Since when did enforcing US law become “illegal state violence?” What fundamental core value is betrayed by enforcing the law as written?

    Their statement must be and is a blatant, unadulterated lie. Any school who holds that defying the laws of the United States in furtherance of some other agenda should be forced to cease operations and liquidate. Any school that describes law enforcement as “illegal state violence” is equally unworthy of continued existence.

    3. Unethical father

    An awful man indeed. Not much more to be said about that.

    • 3. Other than the fact aggressive lawyer advertising and branding must really work. Who needs to chase ambulances when you can plaster your name all over parts of two states with your phone number?

  2. (1) I have noticed that prosecutors seem to enjoy throwing seemingly law-abiding citizens under the bus to satisfy cries for justice. In college, an underage girl got drunk and fell off a building. Her parents and friends screamed for ‘justice’ for their poor girl who was entrapped by the evil bartender who forced her to get drunk and the bar owner and bartender were charged. The basis of the charge was that bartenders are supposed to be able to spot fake ID’s and refuse service. The prosecutor claimed the girl used a fake ID, but it wasn’t caught. Both defendants lost, the liquor license was revoked, the bar went out of business, then both of them were sued out of existence.

    I think this was also a case of inadequate defense. The defense seemingly was based around the idea that the bartenders shouldn’t be required to have a 100% detection rate for fake ID”s (although that is what the law said). However, the ‘fake’ ID had actually been made by the state DMV on the state DMV’s driver’s license equipment. Employees of the local DMV were caught opening the office late Friday nights to make ‘fake’ ID’s for teenagers on the state equipment with the state hologrammed blanks. That should have been the defense, that these weren’t ‘fake’ ID’s. They were fraudulently issued genuine state ID’s. There is no way the bartender could know the circumstances in which the official ID’s were issued.

  3. 1. Aren’t you doing a little Ethics Accounting with a bit of the “Ruddigore Fallacy” here?

    Does her following him home and calling 911 when it was too late absolve her of failing her responsibility to not serve a visibly intoxicated person? To not call the police when a disturbance occurs? To allow a visibly intoxicated person that she over-served from getting into a vehicle and driving away?

    The owner who actively told his employees not to call the police is clearly unfit to hold a liquor license and I’m glad to see he surrendered his license. But this is now about the server.

    If this guy had killed people as a drunk driver, there’s no doubt the bartender would hold some responsibility. It’s moral luck that he arrived safely at his destination in order to carry out his heinous acts that the bartender then thought it prudent to call the police. It wasn’t enough for her to call the police as she followed a drunk driver to his destination.

    Sure, the first responders to the scene commended her for calling, but these aren’t the detectives that have the full story of how the night unfolded. Had they the full story in the moment, their commendation might have sounded a bit more like “Gee…thanks…NOW you tell us…where were you 30 minutes ago?!?”

    • In case it’s not clear to others reading this, the reason the bar owner didn’t want the police called was because anytime they are called, there’s a chance that a citation of over-serving, serving a visibly intoxicated person could be issued, costing the bar a couple thousand dollars in fines and/or face a few days of suspension of their liquor license. The bar owner did the math and rolled his dice hoping that no disturbance would happen in his establishment, that the patron would get home safe, and life would move forward. I’m not sure what his previous compliance history was, but if this wasn’t a first offense, he might have been thinking about more serious penalties than what I listed above.

      Liquor licenses in some states are viewed as a privilege that carries more responsibility. These participants failed their responsibility. Are they culpable for his more heinous crimes? Probably not or doesn’t matter. The underlying problems with how they conducted the business of the bar remain and needed to be addressed.

        • I have always believed dram shop laws are a crock. It is the slippery slope that leads directly to prosecuting gun manufacturers for gun violence and McDonalds for selling food that makes people fat.

          • I don’t know about Gun Manufacturers, but FFLs, yes. If you are selling a gun and the person you’re selling it to is acting crazy and murderous, you have a responsibility to refuse that sale, and if you are going to do the sale, you need to be prepared to defend your reasoning. My company has a Sanctions compliance program and we have to defend every financial transaction where there’s a name match with a sanctioned individual – we have to establish our own galactic id system and rules for how we separate everyone in the world with a similar name as a sanctioned person. It’s tedious, it’s onerous, and it’s the cost of doing business.

        • It should be a misdemeanor prosecution – as long as they don’t conflate the incidents. as Turley stated in the excerpt from the ABA Journal link:

          The Washington Post spoke with Jonathan Turley, a professor at the George Washington University Law School, who noted that bad cases can make bad law.

          “It’s easy to take a horrific criminal act and associate it with an earlier crime,” he said. “Glass may have had reason to know he was intoxicated; however, the charges seem to be an outgrowth of the homicide as opposed to the overserving of alcohol violation.”

          Turley said the case could be interpreted as an effort by the Plano police to hold someone accountable or as part of an effort to create affirmative duties through criminal law.

    • I think it’s one episode only, and has to be judged holistically. Creds for picking up on the Ruddigore Fallacy, but that properly relates to claiming that Good Deed A mitigates Bad Deed J. This is “Difficult Deed X.” If they want to punish her as any other bartender is punished for letting a patron overindulge, fine. If they only prosecute when there’s a DUI or an accident, then not fine. The murder a) does not necessarily have any nexus to drunkeness. b)She took extraordinary steps to try to prevent the crime. She wasn’t worried about a DUI. c) What if she kept him drinking until he passed out, didn’t kill anybody, and he was arrested based on her warnings to the police, his statements, and other evidence? Would she have been arrested then? Writes Turley at the end of his review of this case, “In this case, Banks sought permission to call the police and Glass did call the police. Yet, she is the one charged. It is hard not to conclude that the over-serving charge was a substitute for punishing her for not calling the police earlier.”

      • I definitely will guarantee you she’s being charged with her lesser misdemeanors because the whole case was scrutinized with a bigger spotlight and magnifying glass. If this guy walked out of the establishment and got hit by a bus instead, they might not have reviewed security footage or interviewed witnesses. But it was a bigger case and they’re sitting there looking at footage of this guy stumbling to the bar, pulling out weapons, and nearly falling out of his stool. If he had simply fallen out of his stool and cracked his head, she’d still be in the same amount of trouble. My point being, her charges are limited to her role in the affair and nothing more. If found guilty and this is her first offense, the fine she facing is between $100 and $500 and up to a year in jail. A single day in jail would be extremely unlikely and she’ll plead this with the prosecutor.

        Interestingly: Colorado and Texas differ in that Texas says “A person commits an offense if the person with criminal negligence sells an alcoholic beverage to an habitual drunkard or an intoxicated or insane person.”

        The qualifier in here is “with criminal negligence”…I have to look up what that means…. here: A person acts with criminal negligence, or is criminally negligent, with respect to circumstances surrounding his conduct or the result of his conduct when he ought to be aware of a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the circumstances exist or the result will occur. The risk must be of such a nature and degree that the failure to perceive it constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of care that an ordinary person would exercise under all the circumstances as viewed from the actor’s standpoint.

        In Colorado, the rule is you can’t serve someone “who is visibly intoxicated”. Which means, you can serve intoxicated people, but not if you can visibly tell that they are intoxicated….which is a good and fair standard without subjectively assessing the mental state of the person making the sale.

        The Texas standard might be contrived to convict any person from serving anyone a 2nd beer because the 1st beer intoxicates the imbiber to some degree, even if just a little.

        • How likely is it that you or anybody else is going to go up against a dude who is spinning a Bowie knife on the bar? Personally, I’d give him anything he wanted.

          • At the safest possible moment, you call the police or order someone else to discreetly call the police. It’s an obligation. If you don’t do it, you’ve failed your responsibility.

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