When I was looking through the 2012 posts yesterday, ultimately stumbling upon the long discourse about Barack Obama’s disastrous Presidency, I was struck by how, even in an election year, so many non-political ethics issues were discussed here. This is something that was already driving me crazy about 2020. Thanks to the pandemic, there is virtually no popular culture news. Legal ethics news is drastically reduced, as are reports from other sectors of society and culture. In this warped environment, politics spreads like kudzu, or killer bees, or snakeheads—you can choose your favorite invasive species or opportunistic organism analogy. I’m trying, I swear, but my over-all impression looking back on 2012 is that writing, and I presume reading, an ethics commentary blog was a lot more fun.
1. Today’s rejected Ethics Alarms comment comes from “Gordie,” was opining on the post on Ellen De Generis’s late hit accuser. He wrote,
Ellen was an a$$ to this boy and shes paying for it now. All you lip huggers need to wake TFU and rejoice when you hear truth no matter how unsavory or unpalatable you find it. Be a bully, get bullied. Dont you all see that Karma train pullin up? And with enough hands to slap every butt as it goes on by toot toot
- Welcome to my world. This is why so few new voices are added to the commentariat here.
- Does anyone know what a “lip-hugger” is?
- Tells in the comment that let us know the writer can’t tell an ethics from fuzzy slipper: mentioning “karma,” and the statement, “Be a bully, get bullied.”
2. Here is some non-political legal ethics news, and it’s important, if technical.
Before this week, only the District of Columbia, where I am licensed, allows non-lawyers to be partners in law firms. The majority position in the profession is that non-lawyers inevitably have a different alignment of values from the legally trained, and thus are not likely to be as sensitive to duties to clients, like confidentiality, and conflicts of interest. Pure “investors” are also banned from buying a share of law firm profits, because they are deemed likely to be governed by financial needs and motives rather than the best interests of clients.
When the D.C. bar decided to break the mold decades ago, everyone assumed that other jurisdictions would follow its lead, and soon doctors, engineers, scholars and accountants, among others, would be joining firms and allowing them to add new services. (Europe and Australia already allow such “multidisciplinary firms.”) It didn’t happen.
Now, however, the dominoes might be starting to fall. From the ABA Journal:
The Utah Supreme Court has unanimously approved a slate of reforms that allow for nonlawyer ownership or investment in law firms and permit legal services providers to try new ways of serving clients during a two-year pilot period. The court said the measures adopted Wednesday, including related ethics rules changes, “represent perhaps the most promising effort by courts to tackle the access-to-justice crisis in the last hundred years.. What has become clear during this time is that real change in Utahns’ access to legal services requires recognition that we will never volunteer ourselves across the access-to-justice divide and that what is needed is market-based, far-reaching reform focused on opening up the legal market to new providers, business models, and service options,” the court wrote in a standing order detailing many of the reforms.
California is among the states mulling over this radical change. I did not see Utah as the most likely state to try it.
3. Let’s play “Unethical, or Just Stupid”!
Round 1: The Democratic National Convention included Senator Elizabeth Warren, aka “Fauxahantas” in its Native American Caucus meeting.
Round 2: Donald Trump announced on the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment (suffrage for women) that he was pardoning Susan B. Anthony, who was arrested for illegally voting in 1872. In addition to being such an obvious sop to female voters who care about empty and meaningless gestures, isn’t it odd for a President who has expressed concern over voter fraud to be pardoning anyone who voted illegally?
4. Why is someone with so weak a grasp on basic rights of citizenship employed at a college? Chloe Clark, a professor of English at Iowa State University, issued a syllabus to her class stating that that in their papers and projects the students “cannot choose any topic that takes at its base that one side doesn’t deserve the same basic human rights as you do (ie: no arguments against gay marriage, abortion, Black Lives Matter, etc.). I take this seriously.”
The Young Americans For Freedom were tipped off to the syllabus by an anonymous informant in the class. The group contacted the University, and administrators sent YAF a statement:
“The syllabus statement as written was inconsistent with the university’s standards and its commitment to the First Amendment rights of students. After reviewing this issue with the faculty member, the syllabus has been corrected to ensure it is consistent with university policy. Moreover, the faculty member is being provided additional information regarding the First Amendment policies of the university.
Iowa State is firmly committed to protecting the First Amendment rights of its students, faculty, and staff. With respect to student expression in the classroom, including the completion of assignments, the university does not take disciplinary action against students based on the content or viewpoints expressed in their speech.”
Nope, not good enough. The students have been intimidated, and the professor has let it be known that viewpoints she does not agree with will be punished. This can’t be fixed with a warning or with “additional information.” She has presumably been bullying and indoctrinating students all along. She cannot be trusted, and should be sent to some bait shop in need of management.