Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 3/10/2019: Ethics Savings Time Edition!

It’s still morning according to MY watch…

1. When ethics alarms don’t ring...How could Philadelphia’s retailers and stores not have seen this problem? The city of Philadelphia has passed a law that will requiring retailers to accept cash, responding to increasing numbers that have gone “cashless.”The new law was signed by Mayor Jim Kenney last week and takes effect on July 1 . Violations could bring  fines of up to $2,000.

City Councilman Bill Greenlee co-sponsored  the bill. “It just seemed to me unfair that I could walk into a coffee shop right across from City Hall, and I had a credit card and could get a cup of coffee. And the person behind me, who had United States currency, could not,” he explained.

Good. Serving only people with credit cards is obviously discriminatory.

2.  More on the robocalling experiment. I previously noted that MLB is using the independent Atlantic League to try out some new rules, innovations, and suggested “fixes” for baseball. Only one is of obvious ethics interest: the electronic calling of pitches, which is a matter of integrity. Games should not be warped by crucial decisions that are obviously erroneous and that the game now has the technological tools to prevent. The rest of the measures being tested raise issues of their own:

  • The mound will be moved back two feet to 62’6″. Comment: I assume this is an effort to make hitting easier and pitching harder. I find it difficult to believe that anything this radical has a chance of being adopted.
  • Larger bases will be used (18″ instead of 15″). Comment: Okaaaay…
  • Defensive shifts will be banned. Comment: A terrible idea, constraining defensive creativity and the constant back-and forth change-and-response that has kept baseball dynamic. Let batters figure out how to beat shifts. They have the ability to do it.
  • A radar-enabled strike zone will be employed. Comment: It’s about damned time!
  • Time between innings and pitching changes reduced from 2:05 to 1:45. Comment: Good.
  • Three batter minimum for pitchers entering a game. Comment: This is to eliminate the single pitcher-per-batter trend in late innings that slows down the game with minimal benefits. I see no reason not to do it; there are similar rules already, such as requirements that a pitcher must pitch to at least one batter.
  • There will be no mound visits unless a pitcher is removed from the game or for medical issues. Comment: NO visits is draconian. All this will do is speed the intrusion of electronic communications between catcher and pitcher and pitcher and manager. Yechhh!

3. When lawyers should just shut-up. ABA Model Rule Of Professional Conduct 3.6 says in part:

a) A lawyer who is participating or has participated in the investigation or litigation of a matter shall not make an extrajudicial statement that the lawyer knows or reasonably should know will be disseminated by means of public communication and will have a substantial likelihood of materially prejudicing an adjudicative proceeding in the matter.

It also says,

c) Notwithstanding paragraph (a), a lawyer may make a statement that a reasonable lawyer would believe is required to protect a client from the substantial undue prejudicial effect of recent publicity not initiated by the lawyer or the lawyer’s client. A statement made pursuant to this paragraph shall be limited to such information as is necessary to mitigate the recent adverse publicity.

The rule, which has substantially identical versions in all jurisdictions, needs to be enforced more stringently. It isn’t, I assume, because the bar associations are worried about a court striking down the rule as a First Amendment violation.

Here’s Jussie Smollett’s lawyer, media hound Mark Geragos, on the charges against his client.:

“This redundant and vindictive indictment is nothing more than a desperate attempt to make headlines in order to distract from the internal investigation launched to investigate the outrageous leaking of false information by the Chicago Police Department and the shameless and illegal invasion of Jussie’s privacy in tampering with his medical records. Jussie adamantly maintains his innocence even if law enforcement has robbed him of that presumption.”

ALL the publicity was initiated by Gallegos’s client! His crime was designed to get publicity!

Shut up, Mark. This is the kind of statement that does your client no good, and adds to the public’s distrust of lawyers.

I do give him credit for one thing, though: note that he says, “Jussie adamantly maintains his innocence,” and not “Jussie is innocent,” which he knows is a lie.

4. Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias!

  • Headline (NYT):Border at ‘Breaking Point’ as More Than 76,000 Unauthorized Migrants Cross in a Month.” Quote:”More than 76,000 migrants crossed the border without authorization in February, an 11-year high and a strong sign that stepped-up prosecutions, new controls on asylum and harsher detention policies have not reversed what remains a powerful lure for thousands of families fleeing violence and poverty.”

Gee, sounds like a national emergency to me! Nope: it’s Trump’s fault: “the Trump administration’s aggressive policies have not discouraged new migration to the United States.”

  • Because the Democrat’s watered down “anti-hate” resolution did nothing to condemn the anti-Semitic statements by Rep. Omar, some Republicans withheld their votes for it in protest. Here was how Politico spun it: “Republican leadership splits, and party splinters over hate resolution.”

5. I suppose this should be a stand-alone post, but I don’t want to write about Michel Jackson any more than I have to. It is now official [Pointer: JutGory]: “The Simpsons” is airbrushing away the classic 1991 episode “Stark Raving Dad,” because a key character was voiced by Michael Jackson. James L. Brooks, co-creator of the show, says that the 1991 episode guest-starring Michael Jackson will be pulled out of its archives, permanently, and will be removed from all platforms including DVD sets and streaming services. “It feels clearly the only choice to make,” Brooks says. “The guys I work with—where we spend our lives arguing over jokes—were of one mind on this.”  He added, “I’m against book burning of any kind. But this is our book, and we’re allowed to take out a chapter.”

Sure it’s book burning, and  “the guys Brooks works with” are probably all in favor of tearing down the statues of Confederate generals and monuments to slave-holding Founders, too. Brooks’ ideological clones are suddenly fans of censorship and hiding history when it becomes uncomfortable. There is so much wrong with this decision, it boggles the mind, but a few will suffice…

  • Why now? Oh, right: a documentary made a decade after Jackson’s death suddenly proves what couldn’t be proved in court, is that the theory?
  • Is Brooks really asserting that any artist who releases his or her art to the public is justified in unilaterally destroying it because of a personal motive? The artist has the right, yes. It’s also unethical. The work is no longer the artist’s, it belongs to the culture. This is why Stephen Spielberg has regretted and reversed his politically correctness-addled decision to change the guns carried by the federal agents in “E.T.” to walkie-talkies.
  • This is a time for Kant’s Categorical Imperative. If this is the right thing to do because of Jackson’s alleged misconduct,  then it must be absolute, an unconditional requirement to be observed in all circumstances and justified as an end in itself. That means that no work by Woody Allen, Bing Crosby, Bill Cosby, Errol Flynn, Richard Pryor, John Lennon (and by extension, The Beatles), Peter, Paul and Mary, Charlie Chaplin, Jerry Lee Lewis, and too many others to list, should ever again be available for the public to view, hear, or enjoy.
  • Presumably any film that O.J. Simpson appeared in must be vaporized as well, including “The Naked Gun” films and the greatest disaster movie ever made, “The Towering Inferno.”

The main thing is that “Stark Raving Dad” is a terrific episode.

This is flagrant narcissism, virtue-signaling and grandstanding by Brooks and his colleagues.

The Child-Molesting Pitcher, Chapter 2

Last spring, I posted an ethics quiz about Luke Heimlich:

Luke Heimlich is a rising college baseball star pitcher at Oregon State,  and may well have a future in Major League Baseball. There is a problem though:  Heimlich, 22,  pleaded guilty to  sexually molesting his 6-year-old niece when he was 15 years old. The further complication: he denies that he committed the crime, which was not just one incident but a pattern over two years. He told The New York Times that he only pleaded guilty to ” for the sake of family relations.” “Nothing ever happened,” he told the paper. The girl’s mother, however, says there is no question that he was guilty.”

The question then was whether Heimlich should be allowed to play college baseball. I wrote,

” what does it say about this man’s character that he pleaded guilty to get a lenient deal, and now blandly says that he was lying? I’d view him as more trustworthy if he admitted the crime, was remorseful and repentant, and accepted responsibility. If he did molest the girl, and still denies it, one can hardly say that he has been rehabilitated…”

I’m not sure I was firing on all cylinders when I wrote that, though. He pleaded guilty because that was, by far, the least risky course: I might have advised him to whether he was guilty or not. If he wasn’t guilty, then he’s telling the truth now about “lying” to avoid a harsher sentence for a crime he didn’t commit.

Meanwhile, the reader poll results indicated a strong majority favoring letting the pitcher get on with his life, and his baseball career.

And now, the rest of the story… Continue reading

Saturday Ethics Potpouri, 3/9/2019: Airlines, Trans Athletes, Mercy For Manafort, And More

Atlanta trip ethics musings…

1. Air Travel Ethics #1: Ethics Alarms has noted the ridiculous trend of air travelers imposing on their fellow passengers by exploiting the overly-permissive airlines polices of permitting emotional support animals on flights, resulting in innocent passengers having to share as aisle with  emotional support  toucans, sloths, goats and lizards. Finally, one airline has declared an end to the madness, or close to it. American Airlines updated its emotional support and service animal policies this week, and new “emotional support” companion  policies go into effect on April 1.
After that date, service animals will be limited to dogs, cats, and …all right, this is still nuts..,miniature horses. Only one emotional support animal per passenger will be allowed, and animals under the age of four months cannot fly.

GOOD!

2. Air Travel Ethics #2. This one is a bit more complicated ethically. Britain’s Virgin Atlantic airlines has eliminated the requirement that female flight attendants wear makeup, joining other major carriers that have loosened their dress and grooming standards  after complaints about turning female employees into sex objects.

Virgin Atlantic announced this week that female cabin crew members can skip the makeup if they choose, and also can wear pants instead of Virgin’s familiar red skirts.

“Not only do the new guidelines offer an increased level of comfort, they also provide our team with more choice on how they want to express themselves at work,” Virgin Atlantic Executive Vice President Mark Anderson said in a statement.

This has always been a strange area. There is nothing wrong, and a lot right, with any employer in a service industry requiring employees who deal with the public to meet reasonable standards of professionalism in their appearance. Are attractive, well groomed, neatly dressed employees a legitimate service enhancement? I believe so; on the other hand, what level of discrimination against the older, heavier and not so cute is acceptable? None? Some? The fact that women in the workplace wear make-up and men do not is automatically a cultural anomaly, but nonetheless, if all of the female attendants are wearing make-up and one isn’t, and looks like she just rolled out of bed, threw on some slacks and said, “The hell with it,” I’m not sure I trust that flight attendant.

The sex appeal aspect of flight attendants has always been one way, however, as if the only business flyers were still male, and National Air Lines was still using “I’m Cheryl! Fly me!” as a slogan. There is obviously no effort whatsoever to make male attendants attractive to female flyers: I estimate that more than half of all young male attendants are openly gay. Continue reading

Hey, Oprah: Why Is Michael Jackson A Child Molester Now If He Wasn’t A Month Ago?

Stipulated: I have long-believed that Michael Jackson was a probably a pedophile. The circumstantial evidence is voluminous; he was obviously beset with psychological and emotional problems, he had the wealth and influence to cover up his conduct, and a grown man who admits to sharing a bed with young boys and insists there is nothing wrong with it is justifiably suspect. However, the plain facts are that Jackson has never been proven to be a child molester.

In case you haven’t followed this story, here is the Wikipedia entry on Jackson’s first molestation scandals—it’s long, but we can’t fairly discuss it without common reference points. A bulleted summary from that article: Continue reading

Ethics Warm-Up: I Wish I Were Surprised, But I’m Not

NOW what?

Quite a bit, actually…

1. Res Ipsa Loquitur #1 The Democratic National Committee has barred Fox News from hosting its Presidential primary debates. I guess the Democrats don’t want any tough questions interfering with their efforts to rig the nomination this time around.

If there was ever better proof that the Democratic Party considers the mainstream media their captive allies, I don’t know what it would be. In 2016, Republicans subjected their candidates to outright hostile questioning from CBS and CNBC journalists, and Fox treated Donald Trump as roughly as a candidate can be treated in the Republican debates. I watched all the pre-nomination debates: Fox’s Neil Cavuto was among the very fairest of all panelists, and as Fox News has correctly said in its protest about the Democratic slur, Chris Wallace, Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum, the proposed Fox News debate questioners, are at least as objective and professional as any Left-media journalists.

DNC Chair Tom Perez’s excuse for this blackball move is self-evidently dishonest: “Recent reporting in the New Yorker on the inappropriate relationship between President Trump, his administration and Fox News has led me to conclude that the network is not in a position to host a fair and neutral debate for our candidates. Therefore, Fox News will not serve as a media partner for the 2020 Democratic primary debates.” Oh, the New Yorker says so! That settles it then!

The GOP didn’t pull out of the Vice-Presidential debates in 2008 even though the NPR’s debate moderator, Gwen Ifill, had her pro-Obama book sitting at her publisher  waiting for he candidate to win. CBS wasn’t barred from hosting debates, event though David Rhodes, then president of CBS News, is the brother of Ben Rhodes, Barack Obama’s deputy national security adviser. Meanwhile, Ben Sherwood, president of ABC News, is the brother of Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall, an Obama  special assistant.  Claire Shipman, a national correspondent for ABC’s “Good Morning America,” was married to Jay Carney when he was President Obama’s press secretary. These were real, hard, conflicts of interest. The bias of the Fox News journalists is apparently based on the fact that they may run into Trump pal Sean Hannity in the lunch room.

The Democratic Party is prepared to do everything in its power to make sure the American public does not get properly informed regarding the character, skills and beliefs of its 2020 Presidential candidate, and is confident that every network but Fox can be depended upon to assist them in achieving that goal.

2. Almost certainly untrustworthy study of the week, but great for confirmation bias purposes:  According to an article in “The Atlantic,”  a survey conducted by the polling firm PredictWise that assembled a county-by-county index of American political intolerance  based on poll results determined that ” the most politically intolerant Americans… tend to be whiter, more highly educated, older, more urban, and more partisan themselves.”

That would explain the posts by my Facebook friends… Continue reading

I Expect Non-Lawyers And Journalists To Misunderstand This Basic Legal Ethics Principle….But HARVARD LAW SCHOOL?

Kaboom.

This is a repeat issue, so I could make this short and link to the previous Ethics Alarms post on this annoying subject, or  here, when I defended Hillary Clinton when she was being called a hypocrite for once defending  a child rapist, or maybe the post titled,  No, There Is Nothing Unethical Or Hypocritical About A Feminist Lawyer Defending Roger Ailes.or this post, when liberal icon and former Harvard Law professor Larry Tribe was representing a coal company. I have vowed, however, that if I accomplish nothing else with this blog, I will do my best to put a stake through the ignorant and destructive idea that lawyers only represent clients they agree with, admire, or personally support. Here its is again, the ABA rule that is quoted somewhere in every jurisdiction’s attorney conduct regulations. Let’s do it really big this time:

ABA Model Rule 1.2(b): “A lawyer’s representation of a client, including representation by appointment, does not constitute an endorsement of the client’s political, economic, social or moral views or activities.”

Got that? Memorize it Print it out and carry it in your wallet, and hand it to your ignorant loud-mouth family member who complains about those scum-bag lawyers who represent bad people. Post it on social media and  in online comment sections where people are bloviating about the same. idiotic misconception.

What we can do about Harvard, however, I just don’t know. You know what they say, “Get woke, lose all respect and credibility as a trustworthy advocate for civil rights and the Rule of Law.” Okay, I’m going to have to work on that… Continue reading

The Mistake That Has No Remedy

Craig Coley was in prison for 37 years with no chance of parole. He was innocent, but it took technology that wasn’t available when he was convicted to prove it. Coley was released in 2017, when DNA evidence showed that the justice system had punished the wrong man, and his conviction was finally overturned. Coley was 32 when he was first arrested for the double murder of his girlfriend and her son in 1978, 34 for when he was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment. He’s 71 now.

How does society compensate someone for a mistake like that?

Last month, the city of Simi Valley, California, the city that took half of Chris Coley’s life away from him., announced that it had reached a $21 million settlement with its victim. That’s something, I guess. After his release, Mr. Coley was pardoned by Gov. Jerry Brown—yes, I think that was appropriate— and awarded $1.95 million by the California Victims Compensation Board, a sumptuous $140 for each day he spent in prison. Then he sued.

In a statement announcing the settlement, Simi Valley’s city manager, Eric Levitt said in part, “While no amount of money can make up for what happened to Mr. Coley, settling this case is the right thing to do for Mr. Coley and our community. Then he said that the city had decided to settle the case because “the monetary cost of going to trial would be astronomical.” So it was not because the settlement was “the right thing to do,” but because it was prudent and cheapest way out of their self-made predicament.

I sometimes wonder in officials read these things before they are released. Levitt also said the police department was still pursuing leads in the deaths of Coley’s former girlfriend  and her son. Good luck with that. Maybe O.J. can help out. Continue reading