Ethics Flea Market, 8/28/21: An Atheist Chaplain And Other Exotica [With Missing Link!]

flea market

1. As with the Giuliani suspension, I have grave doubts whether this ruling is apolitical. Judge Parker, a Michigan federal district judge, issued a 110-page order sanctioning Trump lawyers Lin Wood, Sidney Powell, and others for their filing and advocacy of a federal lawsuit that was one of several law suits alleging fraud and illegality in the handling of the 2020 election. The full opinion here, but lawyer Bruce Faughan has done a neat cut and paste job to produce a Reader’s Digest condensed version:

[A]ttorneys have an obligation to the judiciary, their profession, and the public (i) to conduct some degree of due diligence before presenting allegations as truth; (ii) to advance only tenable claims; and (iii) to proceed with a lawsuit in good faith and based on a proper purpose. Attorneys also have an obligation to dismiss a lawsuit when it becomes clear that the requested relief is unavailable.

For purposes of Rule 11, an attorney who is knowingly listed as counsel on a pleading, written motion, or other paper “expressly authorize[d] the signing, filing, submitting or later advocating of the offending paper” and “shares responsibility with the signer, filer, submitter, or advocate.” In this age of electronic filing, it is frivolous to argue that an electronic signature on a pleading or motion is insufficient to subject the attorney to the court’s jurisdiction if the attorney violates the jurisdiction’s rules of professional conduct or a federal rule or statute establishing the standards of practice.

Even if there are sanctions available under statutes or specific federal rules of procedure, . . . the ‘inherent authority’ of the court is an independent basis for sanctioning bad faith conduct in litigation. To award attorneys’ fees under this “bad faith exception,” a district court must find that (i) “the claims advanced were meritless”; (ii) “counsel knew or should have known this”; and (iii) “the motive for filing the suit was for an improper purpose such as harassment.” When invoking its inherent authority to sanction, “[a] court must, of course, . . . comply with the mandates of due process, both in determining that the requisite bad faith exists and in assessing fees.”

[L]itigants and attorneys cannot come to federal court asserting that certain acts violate the law based only upon an opportunity for—or counsel and the litigant’s suspicions of—a violation. The rule[s] continues to require litigants to ‘stop-and-think’ before initially making legal or factual contentions.

[A]n “empty-head” but “pure-heart” does not justify lodging patently unsupported factual assertions. And the good or bad faith nature of actions or submissions is not what determines whether sanctions are warranted under Rule 11(b)(3). Inferences must be reasonable and come from facts proven, not speculation or conjecture. Pursuant to their duties as officers of the court, attorneys typically do not offer factual allegations that have no hope of passing as evidentiary support at any stage of the litigation. Substituting another lawyer’s judgment for one’s own does not constitute reasonable inquiry.”

As an initial matter, an affiant’s subjective belief that an event occurred does not constitute evidence that the event in fact occurred. Plaintiffs are not entitled to rely on the discovery process to mine for evidence that never existed in the first instance. Attorneys are not journalists. It is not acceptable to support a lawsuit with opinions, which counsel herself claims no reasonable person would accept as fact and which were “inexact,” “exaggerate[ed],” and “hyperbole.” Nor is it acceptable to use the federal judiciary as a political forum to satisfy one’s political agenda. Such behavior by an attorney in a court of law has consequences.

An attorney’s right to free speech while litigating an action “is extremely circumscribed.” Something does not become plausible simply because it is repeated many times by many people. An attorney who willingly continues to assert claims doomed to fail . . . must be deemed to be acting with an improper motive.

The nation’s courts . . . are reserved for hearing legitimate causes of action. Individuals may have a right (within certain bounds) to disseminate allegations of fraud unsupported by law or fact in the public sphere. But attorneys cannot exploit their privilege and access to the judicial process to do the same. And when an attorney has done so, sanctions are in order. Here’s why. America’s civil litigation system affords individuals the privilege to file a lawsuit to allege a violation of law. Individuals, however, must litigate within the established parameters for filing a claim. Such parameters are set forth in statutes, rules of civil procedure, local court rules, and professional rules of responsibility and ethics. Every attorney who files a claim on behalf of a client is charged with the obligation to know these statutes and rules, as well as the law allegedly violated.

2. Indoctrination and propaganda in the schools, head-explosion files. Kristin Pitzen a school teacher in Orange County Newport Unified School District in California, took down the American flag from her classroom during the pandemic “because it made me uncomfortable” “and told students they could wordlessly recite a pledge of allegiance to a gay Pride flag instead. You know, “I pledge allegiance to the queers…” That one. Her school district says it is investigating. Nice. I guess this is an appropriate time to point you to this Salon rant by the seriously deranged Chauncy DeVega, who believes conservatives have been programmed by Fox News to believe in an “alternate reality” based on anger and outrage while he proves that he exists in an alternate reality based on anger and outrage. The essay would be great satire if he didn’t obviously believe it.

3. I guess I’m not inclusive or diversity-minded enough, because this makes no sense to me at all. Harvard was established to educate the ministry, using the motto “Truth for Christ and the Church.” John Harvard was pastor. Last week, Harvard’s organization of chaplains elected Greg Epstein as its next president. Epstein is an atheist, best known as the author of the book “Good Without God.”

I can’t find any definition of “Chaplain” that doesn’t include the word “clergy.” How is having Harvard’s chaplain be an atheist any different from appointing a Methodist as Harvard’s rabbi?

“Maybe in a more conservative university climate there might be a question like ‘What the heck are they doing at Harvard, having a humanist be the president of the chaplains?’” said Margit Hammerstrom, the Christian Science chaplain at Harvard. “But in this environment it works.” Ah. It’s like Bizarro World! Got it.

My Harvard diploma will remain face to the wall…apparently forever.

4. Update: Sirhan Sirhan, the man who murdered Sen. Robert F. Kennedy in 1968, was recommended for parole in Sirhan’s 16th appearance before the parole board, . After 53 years in prison, the 77-year-old Palestinian’s fate will be in the hands of California’s governor. Two of Kennedy’s surviving sons, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Douglas Kennedy, supported the release. Talk about alternate realities.

Sirhan Sirhan should have been executed.

9 thoughts on “Ethics Flea Market, 8/28/21: An Atheist Chaplain And Other Exotica [With Missing Link!]

      • I will reply to some of huis article.

        In my public warnings about the Age of Trump and America’s descent into fascism, I have often been far ahead of the hope-peddlers, stenographers and professional centrists of the mainstream news media. But I am no Cassandra or otherwise possess any preternatural gifts. I simply pay close attention to what the Jim Crow Republicans, Trumpists and other neofascists say and do — and I take them at their word.

        As a black working-class person in America I do not have the privilege and luxury that many white folks do — especially those with money — of pretending that everything is going to magically be fine, that “the institutions are strong,” that the “norms” of democracy will hold, or that “we are a good people.” I know for certain that the Trumpists and other neofascists are not “exaggerating” or engaging in “hyperbole” in their threats to create a new American apartheid.

        Government executive officials (not legislatures) have taken unprecedented coercive actions purpotedly to combat the spread of COVID-19. this recently includes vaccination requirements to go to the bar and restaurant, even though no such requirements existed with respect to polio, measles, or mumps.

        So he has a point there.

        I have learned Joe Biden should be impeached because he is a traitor and perhaps mentally incompetent. Biden and Kamala Harris hate America and are responsible for every “crisis” from Afghanistan to “the border” and the overall downfall of American society. “Critical race theory” is the equivalent of the Taliban. “Liberals,” Democrats and other “America-haters” should be dealt with by “patriots.”

        This is actually a matter of opinion. and nothing indicates these opinions are detached from reality.

        Trump had a plan to defeat the Taliban, but Biden, the Democrats and the liberal media stabbed our military in the back.

        That is actually a reasonable opinion.

        I have also learned, of course, that Democrats and their allies stole the 2020 election from Donald Trump.

        And the Russians stole the 2016 election from Hillary Clinton, right?

        Black Lives Matter and antifa are terrorists working to destroy the country. Trump’s followers who attacked the Capitol were originally said not to exist at all, but are now described as noble patriots being unjustly incarcerated as political prisoners.

        Compare tyheir treratment with those who attacked the White House in 2020.

        There are also great schools I can enroll in online that will teach me the true history and facts of America and the Constitution from a patriotic perspective.

        Yes, there are.

        COVID-19 is not really a danger to the country or the world — yet somehow Donald Trump also helped create vaccines to defeat the disease.

        It is not a danger to the country. It is a danger only to a subset of the population.

        Puibnlic health officials are more of a danger.

        Law enforcement and other experts have warned that the United States is likely to experience a violent right-wing insurgency that could last for years. The FBI and Department of Homeland Security have warned that white supremacists are now a greater threat to the U.S. than Islamic terrorists.

        There will be blood. There has already been much blood spilled.

        It is not violent right-wingers doing drive-bys in the inner cities.

        But vaccine mandates just to visit public establishments (note that this was not done for polio nor measles nor mumps) may incite an insurgency, and not just from the right wing.

        • Thanks, Michael. Comment of the Day. I didn’t have the time of the energy to dissent this guy’s gaslighting and delusional projections. I may go on his blog eventually just to annoy him.

  1. [L]itigants and attorneys cannot come to federal court asserting that certain acts violate the law based only upon an opportunity for—or counsel and the litigant’s suspicions of—a violation.

    Wasn’t this the basis for Trump’s tax returns?

  2. 4. When you are born as wealthy as a Kennedy is when he or she is born, you are per se detached from reality. Worse yet, you are empowered to inflict your lunacy upon the public. Would the Kennedys would all just go away.

  3. “I have terminal cancer. I need someone who can pray with me and help me make peace with God.”
    “Well, you can go talk to our head chaplain. But, heads up, he doesn’t believe in God.”
    “How is he going to pray with me and help me make peace with God?”
    “Well he isn’t, but you see, he’s a REALLY good person.”

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