Category Archives: Law & Law Enforcement

Here Is How Free Expression Is Valued In Those Wonderful English-Speaking Countries The US Should Be More Like…

In Australia

Australian Cardinal George Pell was convicted in Melbourne this week on five counts of child sexual abuse. This made him  the most senior official ever found guilty in the Catholic Church’s apparently endless child sexual-abuse scandals. The judge in the case, Peter Kidd, immediately subjected news of Pell’s conviction to a suppression order, the Australian equivalent of a gag order, on press coverage. Australian courts impose such orders to shield defendants from negative publicity that could prejudice future jurors in upcoming trials, and  Pell faces another trial next year on a separate set of abuse charges dating to the 1970s. Of course, the more the public knows about how many predator priests the Catholic Church has facilitated, covered up for, and allowed to prey on children, the safer it is. I am not convinced that this suppression of news isn’t a sop to the Church. Judge Kidd told defense and prosecution attorneys that some members of the news media are facing “the prospect of imprisonment and indeed substantial imprisonment” if found guilty of breaching his gag order

Never mind:  the web, social media and the Streisand Effect foiled the judge. Pell and the charges against him were quickly the subject of thousands of tweets and shared posts on Facebook. The posts included links to websites and blogs where the news was available, including NPR, the Daily Beast and the National Catholic Reporter.

The Washington Post reported the conviction, but the New York Times did not. The Times’ deputy general counsel, David McCraw, gave the excuse that the newspaper is abiding by the court’s order in Australia “because of the presence of our bureau there. It is deeply disappointing that we are unable to present this important story to our readers in Australia and elsewhere. . . . Press coverage of judicial proceedings is a fundamental safeguard of justice and fairness. A free society is never well served by a silenced press.”

So don’t be silent then.

The Associated Press and Reuters news services also did not report Pell’s conviction.  Both services have bureaus in Australia that could face potential liability. Tell me again about how courageous news organizations are.

In Canada…

Continue reading

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Saturday Ethics Warm-Up, 12/15/2018: A Good Firing, A Good Trend, A Bad Law, An Unethical Complaint, And A Tardy Confession

Rain rain go away; come back another day; Jackie wants to GET THE %$#^&@!!! Christmas tree up and start the annual  10 hour HELL of decorating it!

1. Is Facebook blocking Ethics Alarms? Several readers have reported that their efforts to share posts have been foiled. I can’t post links to it; my last several tries on two different posts have gleaned an error message. No one has shared a post to Facebook anywhere for nine days, which is very unusual. The last Ethics Alarms post with any shares was the “Kiss the Girl” post, which had quite a few.

I also have no idea what to do if Facebook is blocking the blog, and not much motivation to do it. Increasingly I am finding that my Facebook friends are making me lose respect for them with their constant virtue-signaling to the Left and refusal to accept any contrary opinions without stooping to personal insults. The “Facebook community” standards are incompatible with ethics commentary? I’m not surprised, and it can bite me.

I have literally never written anything that would justify social media censorship, assuming fair, responsible and free speech-respecting social media.

2. “The best people.” Ryan Zinke is finally leaving the Cabinet, and the President will be looking for a new Interior Secretary. The former Montana congressman and Navy Seal had an ethically tone-deaf and politically controversial tenure, facing nearly 20 federal investigations ― one of which his agency’s inspector general recently referred to the Justice Department for possible criminal violations. Like Trump himself, Zinke was incapable of recognizing that when you embark on a controversial policy mission, you have to stay squeaky clean, or the news media bring you down. This is simply stupid, arrogant and self-destructive.  Zinke should have been fired months ago.

3. Hooray!The NFL isn’t as criminal as it used to be! I guess that’s something. It was reported that “only” 36  incidents occurred in 2018 that ended in the arrest of an NFL player, down (so far) from 49 last year, and 80 a decade ago.

I guarantee that you can count the parallel incidents in Major League Baseball on one hand, every year.

4. Obamacare was declared unconstitutional in federal court, whatever that means.  I don’t know at this point whether the decision has a prayer of surviving. I do know that the legislation is and was a fiasco, and that this is what one gets when a party decides to rush major legislation through while by-passing the other party, a President repeatedly lies about it to get public support based on misinformation, and the bill is voted on with few, if any, legislators actually reading the law.

I also continue to marvel at the number of otherwise intelligent Americans who continue to idolize President Obama, who is responsible for this mess and claims it as his “signature achievement”—all while the same Americans rail about President Trump’s “lies.” He has not made a single misstatement in the past two years that has been a fraction as consequential as Obama’s lie about the Affordable Care Act. Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Character, Ethics Train Wrecks, Facebook, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement

Comment Of The Day: “Open Forum Ethics (Justice System Thread)”

The Open Forum this week raised several new ethics topics I will be posting on soon, in addition to its bumper crop of Comments of the Day. The latest of these is another by Michael R., following  the posting of this link.

Here is Michael R’s Comment of the Day on the justice system thread in Open Forum Ethics:

I have wondered about the ethics of citizens shooting criminals when they are legally justified. Should a citizen try at all costs to avoid shooting a criminal when legally justified or should citizens shoot and attempt to kill criminals any time it is legally justified? Sad to say, I am beginning to think the latter is preferable. I will give an example to illustrate why.

A man committed 5 home invasions in 1 day in my neighborhood about 2 years ago. During the first 4 home invasions, the residents were armed and drove him off. In the 5th, the resident held him at gunpoint for police (my neighborhood is kind of rough for home invaders). The police told the 5th homeowner he should have killed the man. You may wonder why. The criminal was convicted on all 5 counts of home invasion as well as being a felon in possession of a firearm. Justice, right? Well, he has already been released from prison. He severely beat two women while robbing them. He led police on a high speed chase in a stolen car while shooting at them. He was shot and crashed the car (doing extensive property damage). He will require extensive medical care at state expense for the rest of his life. If the homeowner had killed him, those women wouldn’t have been beaten and robbed, the car wouldn’t have been stolen, and the public wouldn’t be paying millions to take care of this criminal. Continue reading

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Filed under Comment of the Day, Law & Law Enforcement, Rights, U.S. Society

One More Reason Not To Watch “Bull”

Harassed and harasser. Guess who stayed employed?

“Bull,” the CBS legal drama starring Michael Weatherly as a roguish, brilliant jury consultant who violates so many ethics rules on behalf of the submissive lawyer who employs him that it actively makes viewers dumber, reached my boycott list almost immediately. It’s a shame, because I could get a lively post, sometimes several, out of virtually any episode, since the show’s respect for ethics, professional and otherwise is non-existent.

Now there’s another good reason to avoid “Bull.” CBS has investigators checking the depth and length of the cultural norms of sexual assault, harassment and cover-ups at CBS, where CEO Les Moonves was recently fired after it was revealed that he was a serial sexual predator. That was odd, too, because the other networks enjoyed painting Fox News as a den of sexism after founder Roger Aisles was exposed as exactly the sort of pig who would make his female talent dye their hair blonde and dress like cocktail hostesses. They also had their news reporters sneering and preaching about evil Candidate Trump boasting about “grabbing them by the pussy” while their execs and stars were actually doing it. (My guess? Every one of the major networks has corrupt, harassment-supporting cultures like Fox and CBS. Every single one.) One of the revelations was that actress Eliza Dushku, the bad vampire slayer on “Buffy,” was harassed repeatedly by “Bull” star Michael Weatherly, and when she complained about it, was fired. To cover-up, Dushku was paid nine million dollars as damages and hush money. As you know, this must have been a campaign financing violation.

The story is disgusting. Read it and retch. to summarize, Weatherly, who apparently is very much like the charming jerks he plays, pet making sexual comments to Dushku, calling her “Legs” on the set, suggesting that she participate in “threesomes” and similar comments. Soon other men on the show were doing the same. Dushku, who had been signed up play a continuing role on the show, complained—as she should have—and Weatherly had her fired. Then CBS paid to cover it up.

Nice.

It is amazing to me that even in the ethics cesspool of show business, this behavior continues to happen, and big corporations continue to allow it, indeed facilitate it. Weatherly says he was misunderstood, that he was joking—like when he said in front of the cast and crew that he would bend her over his leg and spank her, or when he said he would take . Dushku to his “rape van,” which he said was filled with phallic objects and lubricant—that this is just the way he is, that he didn’t mean anything by it and is sorry that he upset anybody.

Bull.

This is classic sexual harassment, and would have been rude, unprofessional and abusive conduct before the term “sexual harassment” was invented.

I have had many female peers and subordinates in my embarrassingly diverse career, including many who were single, attractive, and who caused my heart to skip a beat every time I saw them. I never once made a sexually suggestive comment to any of them; it would not have occurred to me to do so. The reason is that I was raised properly to be respectful to women, and because I instinctively understood that the workplace, even the confusing workplace of show business, was not a locus where basic manners and common sense were suspended. This shouldn’t be hard. That particular ethics alarm should be installed and fully functional by the time a child is 10.

Weatherly, of course, as the star of a successful, popular and lucrative show, assumed that he was immune from discipline, and he was, sadly, right. What should have happened was that the producers should have called him in to grim scene with lawyers present. He should have been told that his conduct was not only stupid and vulgar but illegal. He should have been required to apologize to the actress and to make an appropriate statement to the cast and crew. Finally, he should have been told that a single instance of this kind of conduct, or any hint or retaliation against Dushku, would result in his dismissal for cause.

Disney and ABC, you will recall, fired Roseanne Barr from her own show for a single tweet. Even a CBS show had acted decisively when “Criminal Minds” fired star Thomas Gibson for kicking a writer. Ah, but one instance was racism, and the other was violence. The tragedy is that too many organizations and powerful men, especially in Hollywood and Washington, D.C., still don’t see sexual harassment as all that big a deal. No, it certainly doesn’t help the the President of the United States also doesn’t think it’s a big deal, but you can’t blame CBS’s conduct on him.

There is no excuse for this. There was never any excuse for this.

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Etiquette and manners, Gender and Sex, Law & Law Enforcement

Enlighten, Impress And Depress Your Friends! Explain Why The President’s Alleged Election Law Violation Was Not One, Much Less A Justification For Impeachment

When Trump lawyer/crony/fixer/slimeball Michael Cohen was first arrested, multiple lawyers, legal experts and commentators who principles and integrity had not been melted by “the resistance” pointed out that paying hush money to a an old sexual partner threatening disclosure couldn’t possibly be an election law violation. Oh, details, schmetails: the point is to get Trump; what does the law have to do with it? After all, Representative Al Green, who has entered an impeachment resolution twice already, now says his next try will be based on “bigotry.” Hey, most Democrats in the new House would probably vote for impeachment based on “covfefe.

Sure enough, when Cohen, trying to save his own neck, was bullied into pleading guilty to a non-crime, the media and social media hills were alive with the sounds of impeachment. The celebrants, however, are just wrong. Cohen’s plea shows a cowardly, disgraceful unethical lawyer; it shows that his lawyer, Lanny Davis, may be more interested in getting Trump than representing Cohen; it shows that the prosecutors in the case are unethical, and that the judge should not have accepted a plea to something that was not and cannot be a crime. It does not show that the President violated the federal election laws.

Attorney Bradley Smith, a former head of the FEC, explains why clearly, concisely, and decisively, here.

Of course, all the logic, facts and law in the world won’t put a dent in Stage 4 Trump hate. (To be fair, the news media and pundits aren’t helping them any by refusing to cover the issues and law straight.) But at least you will have given them a chance. It is Christmas time, after all.

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Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 12/13/2018: The All-Segue Edition

Good Morning!

(Though any day that begins with the legal gossip scandal-sheet website Above the Law sending me a “media inquiry” as they dig for dirt is not a good day.)

1. In brief. Well I have now received the appellant’s brief in a certain lingering law suit regarding Ethics Alarms. What fun. Anyone who wants to read it is welcome; those who have dealt with pro se submissions will immediately recognize the syndrome, lawyers may be amused, and non-lawyers may be edified. I expect to knock out the reply brief today, which won’t have to be more than a few pages. It’s not like I have better things to do or anything…

2. Speaking of cases that should have been thrown out of court…Reason reports:

In June, an Oakland County sheriff’s deputy pulled Dejuante Franklin over in front of a gas station for a traffic violation. While handing Franklin his ticket, NWA’s “Fuck tha Police” began to play in the background. As it turns out, James Webb, who did not know Franklin, witnessed the stop. He decided on his own accord to turn the song up louder before walking into the gas station store. When he exited, the officer slapped him with a ticket for misdemeanor noise violation, citing that Webb played the song at an “extremely high volume.”

It took 9 minutes of deliberation for a jury to bring in a verdict of  not guilty. This was an obvious attempted end-around the First Amendment by the officer, and the judge shouldn’t have let it get to a jury at all.

3. And speaking of abusing First Amendment rights…as well as “A Nation of Assholes,” MSNBC’s “Morning Joe’s” co-host and wife-to-be (don’t get me started on THAT) Mika Brzezinski,  called Secretary of State Mike Pompeo a “butt-boy” during yesterday’s show.  Why not? After all, CBS lets its on-air personalities call the President a “cock-holster.” Mika wouldn’t have had her filters down, of course, if the culture around MSNBC wasn’t rife with such hate, but she realized mid-show that this wasn’t exactly professional or civil news reporting, and babbled an apology. Too late!

An ethical, professional news station would suspend her, but this is MSNBC, and there are no ethical, professional news stations.

4. Meanwhile, speaking of media bias and unprofessional reporting...A New York Times “fact check” on the contentious meeting among Trump, Pence, Pelosi and Schumer had this amusing note:

“Mr. Trump has long charged that Democrats want open borders, slinging accusations at a higher clip in the waning days of the midterm elections campaign in November. Democrats do not want open borders, evidenced in part by border security legislation that Democrats have supported. What Democrats do not want is Mr. Trump’s costly border wall.”

Oh, that’s a fact, is it? No, Democrats, at least a great many of them, DO want open borders, evidenced in part by their wilful refusal to distinguish between illegal immigrants and legal immigrants, their insistence on signalling through their support for “Dreamers” that bringing children across the border illegally is a virtuous act, their position that illegal immigrants should be allowed to stay in the U.S. as longs as they don’t break any more laws, their constant demonization of necessary border enforcement efforts, and their proposals to abolish ICE. Continue reading

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Lost Tuesday Ethics Scraps, 12/11/18: Statues, Tucker Carlson And “To Kill A Mockingbird”

Good whatever it is.

I guess I’m not as recovered as I thought: one high energy ethics presentation to a sluggish audience today and I was fried. This better not be encroaching old age, or I’ll be pissed.

1. Thank you for making the open forum this morning active: I wish you all had been in my audience today. I haven’t read any of it yet (I did finally get your excellent comment out of moderation, Michael R!); I’m trying to get my own posts up.

2. Stolen art ethics. No doubt: the looting of art from the Old World by American tycoons and museums is a long-time ethics scandal, and the international court battles settling the disputes will continue for a long, long time. The argument over a 2000-year-old bronze statue, known as “Victorious Youth between the Getty Villa and Italy, however, is not as clear as most. Italy’s highest court has ordered that the sculpture should be returned to Italy. Currently, it is on display at the villa on the outskirts of Los Angeles, which is part of the J. Paul Getty Museum. It was retrieved from Adriatic waters by Italian fishermen in 1964, and sold to successive collectors and dealers. After a decade-long legal battle, Italy’s Court of Cassation ruled  that the statue should be confiscated and brought back to Italy, rejecting the Getty’s appeal. Getty is not giving in.

The ethics as well as the law is murky. This is not a case like King Tut, where Indiana Jones-style archeologists and adventurers, just uncovered foreign cultural treasures and took them home. Before acquiring the prized artifact, the Getty undertook a comprehensive, five-year study of whether the statue could be purchased legally and in good faith. Their due diligence extensive analysis of international, Italian, American and California law and of Italian court decisions pertaining to the work.

In 1968, Italy’s Court of Cassation ruled that there was no evidence that the statue belonged to the Italian state; after all, it is Greek. Although the fishermen took the statue onto Italian soil, the court did not find that its brief presence in Italy transformed the sculpture into a component of Italian cultural heritage. Eventually the statue made its way to a German art dealer who put the statue up for sale. According to the Getty, in 1973, acting on a request from Italy, German police initiated an investigation into whether the German dealer had received stolen goods. The investigation was dropped for lack of evidence of wrongdoing. In 1977, the Getty purchased the bronze in Britain for almost $4 million from a gallery affiliated with the German dealer. The bronze has now been publicly exhibited, studied and cared for at the Getty for 40 years. Continue reading

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