Category Archives: Professions

A Fake Judge Disqualifies Herself From Becoming A Real Judge

This is ridiculous.

Well, sure it's OK to impersonate a judge ON STAGE...

Well, sure it’s OK to impersonate a judge ON STAGE…

The Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission is asking for the immediate suspension of a judicial candidate Rhonda Crawford, who running  for a judgeship covering parts of Chicago and its suburbs. The request asks the Illinois Supreme Court to block Crawford from becoming a judge if she wins the election, which is likely, since she is running unopposed. The reason she has been deemed unfit to be a judge is that she already pretended to be one, in essence impersonating a judge and ruling on cases in traffic court.

Crawford admitted last month that she wore a judicial robe and sat at the bench as part of a “shadowing process”  under the direction Judge Valarie Turner, who was reprimanded and  reassigned to administrative duties after pulling the stunt. Near the end of the afternoon court call, Judge Turner announced that “we’re going to switch judges” and gave her judicial robe to Crawford. Crawford didn’t correct the misstatement, and began acting as the judge. Judge Turner, who appears to have taken leave of her senses, told the prosecutor earlier in the day that Crawford was a judge, and Crawford did not correct the misstatement. When an officer in the courtroom congratulated Crawford on her judgeship, Crawford did not correct him, either. Judge Turner later told the presiding judge investigating the incident that she thought Crawford really was a judge, which is odd since she was employed as a law clerk and staff attorney, and real judges tend to have their own robes while not requiring second judges to stand behind them. Continue reading


Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Professions

The Doctor, The Emergency And The Flight Attendant: A Depressing Ethics Tale With No Ethical Resolution In Sight

Was it race, gender, youth, all of them, or none of them?

Was it race, gender, youth, all of them, or none of them?

Tamika Cross, a young OB-GYN flying Delta from Detroit to Minneapolis,  heard flight attendants calling for medical assistance when a passenger  man two rows in front of her was found to be unconscious. Dr. Cross raised her hand, only to be told, according to Cross’s subsequent Facebook post on the incident, “Oh no, sweetie, put your hand down. We are looking for actual physicians or nurses or some type of medical personnel. We don’t have time to talk to you.”

Cross says she tried to  explain that she was a physician, but was “cut off by condescending remarks,” from the attendant. A moment later, when there was a second call for medical assistance and Cross again indicated that she was ready to help, the same flight attendant said, according to Cross, “Oh wow, you’re an actual physician?” She then quizzed Cross  about her credentials, area of practice, and where she worked. In the meantime, a white, middle-aged male passenger appeared, and Cross, she says, was dismissed.

On her now viral Facebook post, Dr. Cross concludes:

“She came and apologized to me several times and offering me Skymiles. I kindly refused. This is going higher than her. I don’t want Skymiles in exchange for blatant discrimination. Whether this was race, age, gender discrimination, it’s not right. She will not get away with this….and I will still get my Skymiles….”

What’s going on here?


1. This was an emergency situation.

2. Dr. Cross sincerely felt insulted and treated with disrespect.

3. She also feels that she was the victim of stereotyping,, bias and prejudice.

4. Her account can be presumed to be an honest recounting of how she experienced the episode.

5. The Roshomon principles apply. We do not know how the flight attendant perceived the situation as it developed, and will never know, since the incident is already tainted with accusations of racism.

6. This was an emergency situation.

7. There is no way to determine what the flight attendant was thinking.

8. Despite all of the above, observers, analysts and others will be inclined see the event as confirmation of their own already determined beliefs and assumptions.

9. This was a single incident, involving a set of factors interacting in unpredictable ways.

Next, some ethical observations…. Continue reading


Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Facebook, Gender and Sex, Health and Medicine, Journalism & Media, Professions, Race, U.S. Society, Workplace

Judicial Ethics Quiz: The Cranky Judge

Judge Clarke (L) and artist's representation (R)

Judge Clarke (L) and artist’s representation (R)

A three-judge panel in California found misconduct in Judge Edmund Clarke, Jr’s treatment of one or more jurors in a jury pool for a murder trial.

Your challengeGuess which of the incidents was found to be an abuse of judicial power and authority.

A. Judge Clarke also told a potential juror who wrote that she had only $25 in her checking account that “every one of these lawyers spent more than that on lunch today.” He excused the juror, and after she left, Clarke told everyone in the courtroom how much the juror had in her account. When a second potential juror disclosed he had only $33 in his checking account, Clarke again announced the amount and said that his savings put the other juror “in the shade with that big account.”

B. Judge Clarke reduced another juror to tears reprimanding her after she appeared to change a form to indicate that she did not speak English, which he found incredible. She said  had lived in the United States for 25 years. Clarke said,

“Most people that have been in this country for 10 years have picked up enough English. [Twenty] or so, they’re moving right along. And 25 years is—so you better have a different reason why you want to be excused than that.” 

After she began weeping loudly because, she said later, she was ashamed because she didn’t speak English, he dismissed her from the panel.

C. Finally, Judge Clarke became annoyed at a juror who had written on her hardship form, “Having Severe Anxiety!!” next to her drawing of a frowny  face. “I work as a waitress and make minimum wages, plus I’m planning a wedding in two months and all of these things, especially this courthouse are aggravating my anxiety terribly. On the verge of a meltdown!” Clarke  excused her from jury duty,  but when she added that the clerk who was checking in potential jurors was “really disrespectful” to everyone, he  told the woman that she could stay in the hallway and tell him more at the end of the day. When the dismissed juror insisted that she had to leave, he said,

“No, you’re staying. You’re staying You’re staying on. I’ve been a judge for seven years. No one’s ever complained about my clerk. But I’ll be happy to hear your complaint at the end of the day. So go to the hall and stay and come in, act like an adult and you can face her and tell me everything she did wrong.”

The woman did as she was ordered and apologized to Clarke after waiting for an hour court to be adjourned. The judge  asked her how she would have felt if he came to the restaurant where she worked and criticized her in front of everyone, saying, 

“If you came here thinking that this was going to be Disneyland and you were getting an E Ticket and have good time, I’m afraid you have no sense of what is going on in this building. Now, seven years ago the first clerk that was assigned to me, she’s still here. The only clerk I’ve ever had. One juror, in all that time, out of thousands, has ever complained about her. That’s you. You can leave now knowing that’s what you accomplished.”

D. All of the above.

Take the poll, and then go to the answers after the jump.

Continue reading


Filed under Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Professions, Quizzes

Ethics Heroes: The California State Legislature And Gov. Jerry Brown


Usually, when Ethics Alarms headlines California’s lawmakers, it is because they have done something irresponsible, like in this postthis one,  and my personal favorite, this one, in which Governor Jerry Brown signed a minimum wage law that he admitted might not make economic sense, because it was consistent with partisan fantasies.

But a blind pig might find a truffle, every dog has its day, and even a stopped clock is right occasionally. California just passed a desperately needed law that no other state has had the courage to pass. Its purpose: take serious measures to stop prosecutorial misconduct that sends innocent people to jail, a problem that is rampant everywhere in the U.S., but particularly bad in the Golden State.

Brown just signed into law a new statute making it a felony for prosecutors to alter or intentionally withhold evidence that could be used to exonerate defendants. Violators could be sentenced to up to three years in prison. That’s not nearly enough punishment when the crime often robs innocent citizens of decades of their lives, but it sends an important, and one hopes an effective, warning…with teeth. Continue reading


Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Heroes, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Professions, Rights

Now THIS Is “Conduct Prejudicial To The Administration of Justice”!

The late Joe Jamail, role model...

The late Joe Jamail, role model…

Almost all jurisdictions include in their lawyer ethics rule a catch-all provision, Rule 8.4 (d), that says that is is professional misconduct for a member of the bar to

(d) Engage in conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice;

Virginia is one state that omits this prohibition as too vague; D.C.’s version says that a lawyer must not engage in conduct that is seriously prejudicial, whatever that means. My position is that such a rule is necessary, since no set of rules can cover every situation, and lawyers, I have found, are especially creative in finding new ways to be unethical.

Texas Super Lawyer Joe Jamail (who died last December) established the proposition that a lawyer could prejudice the administration of justice by his spectacular incivility in this deposition:

The Delaware Supreme Court condemned Jamail’s conduct as “rude, uncivil and vulgar,” saying that it abused the privilege of appearing in a Delaware proceeding,” and showed “an astonishing lack of professionalism and civility.” (The immortal quote from the video is Jamail telling his adversary counsel that he “could gag a maggot off a meatwagon.” The deposition deteriorated into a Trumpian insult-fest, with Jamail calling the other lawyer “Fat boy” and being called “Mr, Hairpiece” in return.) The court went on to call Jamail’s unprofessional behavior “a lesson for the future—a lesson of conduct not to be tolerated or repeated.”

Following the judicial reprimand,  Jamail said,  “I’d rather have a nose on my ass than go to Delaware for any reason.”

But even Joe never did this. Continue reading

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Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Etiquette and manners, Law & Law Enforcement, Professions

The Bias And Incompetence Of Media “Fact-Checkers” In One Stupid Tweet


In the last (I wish it were the last) Presidential debate, Donald Trump said that Hillary Clinton should apologize for “the 33,000 e-mails that you deleted, and that you acid washed.” The tweet above was the instant response of NBC’s “fact-checkers.”  No, it’s not a parody.

You see, when Donald Trump uses rhetorical devices like metaphor, hyperbole, irony and anything else that a reasonable and educated person would understand as not being meant literally, the pro-Clinton, pro-Democrat, anti-conservative, anti-Republican, anti-ethical, anti-democracy  journalism “fact-checkers” intentionally treat the statement as if it was meant literally, so they can call Trump a liar, and build on the narrative that he lies even more than Hillary does, so, the reasoning goes, Hillary’s lies don’t matter

That they do this repeatedly and increasingly obviously has the effect of making it impossible for their commentary to be trusted when Trump does lie, which is often. It also raises the question of whether these people are too dumb themselves to provide analysis of anything, and, quite possibly, to dress themselves. Continue reading


Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Professions, Science & Technology, Social Media

Nobody Cares, But NBC Has Been Wildly Unethical In The Trump-Bush Video Affair


NBC deserves to be condemned for its conduct in many ways in reference to the Trump Pussy Tape episode, going back eleven years.

1. NBC technicians allowed Trump to continue talking without his realizing that his microphone was on. Unethical, and unprofessional, as well as a pure Golden Rule violation. Basic decency, fairness and professionalism requires that when a guest is doing this, his mistake must be  made known to him at the earliest possible time. This is the rule when someone continues to speak on a conference call believing the call has ended. It is the ethical thing to do  when you are in a bathroom stall and your opponents in a law suit start discussing strategy while they are washing their hands. I have several times, at taped seminars, begun to answer questions during a break and realized that I was still being recorded. Sometimes a technician has reminded me. Worse (but funnier) I have done a full “Naked Gun”, using the Men’s Room while wearing a live mic…and the technician dashed in to get me to turn it off, just in time. (Well, almost.) Allowing a guest to embarrass himself on tape as Trump did is despicable and unprofessional in every way.

2. NBC betrayed its own employee, Billy Bush, by not alerting him, either.  Disloyal, unfair, and uncaring.

3. Once the recording was made, it should have been destroyed as soon as anyone in authority realized the participants were speaking without knowing the mics were on.

4. Attorney Robert Barnes makes a compelling argument that NBC’s conduct violated California Penal Code 632, which criminalizes the act of any person who “without the consent of all parties” records their conversations. Of course, violating the law is also unethical. Trump might  have a just lawsuit, though the damage can’t be undone: the pussy’s out of the bag, so to speak.

5. Bush, as an NBC employee, should have been told about the recording and its contents long, long before it was made public. NBC was obligated to inform him as a basic courtesy. Continue reading


Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Character, Ethics Train Wrecks, Etiquette and manners, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, language, Law & Law Enforcement, Professions, Workplace