Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 8/15/2019: Starring Two Of My Favorite Unethical Websites!

WAKE UP!

Oh, great: started this post at 7 am, hell broke lose at ProEthics, and now it’s after noon. Well, the hell with it: I’m not going back to change the headline or the intro, and I like Lenny’s version of the Stars and Stripes at any time of day.

So there.

1. Unprofessional and dangerous stuff from  Above the Law….as usual. The legal gossip and snark online tabloid is run and written by lawyers who are not practicing law, so they feel free to engage in conduct that lawyers are forbidden from engaging in, like misrepresentation.  Lately the cyber rag has been cyber-ragging on Jones Day, a long-time, distinguished D.C. mega firm. Why are they doing that? Come on, it should be obvious.

ATL takes the position—and it has company— that Jones Day is eeeevil and must be shunned because it represents the Trump campaign. Hence you get headlines like “IF YOU HAD TO GUESS WHICH FIRM WOULD DO THIS:New allegations claim Jones Day lightened the skin and narrowed the nose on the picture of one of their lawyers.” Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, May 2, 2019: Low, Lower, Lowest

Six computer crashes already, but I’m going to get this %$#*&@ post up if it kills me, and I’m STILL calling it a “morning” warm-up.

1. Speaking of %$#*&... Senator Lindsay Graham used “fucking” on both CNN and Fox News, live, coast-to-coast. He was quoting former from one of FBI agent Peter Strzok’s texts, to illustrate the anti-Trump bias among those investigating him, as well as Hillary Clinton.  “Trump is a fucking idiot,” Graham read. He added, “Sorry to the kids out there.”

Good for him. If the word is relevant to a legitimate issue, and part of a quote or an example, then use the word. The principle is the same as when professors of linguistics or social studies utter the word “nigger” to raise questions about the way the word itself is used in society.

2. Unethical industry seeks guidance from unethical organization. So desperate is American horse racing to reverse its precipitous decline that leaders in the sport are seeking guidance from PETA.

That will work out well, I’m sure. Any time a business seeks guidance from an outside group that really doesn’t care about whether the business lives or dies, the end is near….not that this is a bad thing in this case. Horse deaths have been increasing across the country, and the anger of animal rights activists is threatening the very existence of “the sport of Kings.” California is close to banning the sport already. The use of drugs to keep sick and injured thoroughbreds running until they drop and the use of whips are the main sources of contention.

The popularity and profitability of horse racing has been falling for a long time. ONce, it ranked with boxing and baseball as one of the three top professional sports in the nation. Those days are gone for ever. Meanwhile,  more than $15 billion was bet on races in 2002; last year,  the total was $11 billion. In 2002, nearly 33,000 thoroughbred foals were registered as racehorses.  19,925 were registered last year.

Like boxing, horse racing appears to be doomed by its very nature The NFL, it it looks really hard, should be able to see its future, or lack of it. The process takes an infuriatingly long time, but people do become more ethical as time and experience accumulates. Continue reading

What Is Fairness, Justice And Proportion For Aaron Schlossberg?

“He’s a jerk. Let’s squash him like a bug…”

Surely by now you know of Aaron Schlossberg, the latest cultural villain.

He was the star and author of a bizarre incident at a restaurant in Manhattan. Schlossberg, who is a midtown Manhattan lawyer, freaked out beyond all reason when a customer began conversing in Spanish with employees at the restaurant. “Your staff is speaking Spanish to customers when they should be speaking English,” he protested. “Every person I listen to — he spoke it, he spoke it, she’s speaking it. This is America! “My guess is they’re not documented, so my next call is to ICE to have each one of them kicked out of my country.If they have the balls to come here and live off of my money — I pay for their welfare, I pay for their ability to be here — the least they can do is speak English…I’m calling ICE.”

Naturally, this was captured on a phone video. Naturally, it was posted to social media. Once upon a time a person could behave like a jackass and only have the immediate witnesses to his conduct know about it. No more. Now, thanks to omnipresent cell phones, everyone is under more or less constant surveillance, and a bad moment, a sudden outburst or an ill-considered word can and will be wielded by steely-eyed social justice enforcers to destroy a miscreant’s life to the maximum extent possible.

Is that the kind of society you want to live in? It would be wise to consider the fate of Aaron Schlossberg.

Somehow his name became known. The news media picked up his tantrum: the Daily News put it on its front page! The New York Post reported that he has been evicted from his office by Corporate Suites, the company that held his law office lease.  His firm’s associate quit, with a nice virtue-signaling tweet. A petition demanding that he be disbarred has more than 10,000 signatures, and there is a GoFundMe effort to a  hire a mariachi band to follow him around New York.

That’s kind of funny, I have to admit. Continue reading

No, Thomas M. Cooley Law School Did Not Make Michael Cohen A Bad Lawyer, And The Fact That Cohen Got His JD There Does Not Mean It’s A Lousy Law School

Ugh. I don’t want to argue that Cooley isn’t a lousy law school, mind you, although I don’t have anything but anecdotal data of the matters, and I certainly don’t want to defend Cohan, whom I fingered as a lousy lawyer way back in 2015. ( What A Surprise: Donald Trump Has An Unethical Lawyer!). 

No, this post is about how incompetent journalists are, how they are too frequently devoid of basic reasoning and research skills, and how, particularly when they deal with legal matters, their ignorance is frequently embarrassing while it actively misleads the public.

Politico’s Phillip Shenon, who, not surprisingly, is not a lawyer, figures he can smear three parties via guilt by association with one brush in  “Trump’s Lawyer Went to the Worst Law School in America.”  But graduates of every law school succeed and fail, and while the law schools like to take credit for them, there is every reason to believe that those grads would have succeeded or failed had they gone to better law schools, or worse ones. One graduate’s misadventures prove absolutely nothing.

Roy Cohn, who  served as Senator Joe McCarthy’s chief counsel during the infamous Army–McCarthy hearings and was later disbarred, graduated from Columbia Law School. If he had graduated from Thomas M. Cooley Law School, Shenon no doubt would have thought Cohn’s alma mater was significant, but, of course, it would be a cheap shot at McCarthy and Cohn. If Cohen had gone to Columbia, Shenon could write a piece titled “Trump’s Lawyer Went to the Same Law School As Roy Cohn.”

Bill Lerach, disbarred in the class action law suit scandal involving his law firm, was considered a champion of abused investors and a social justice crusader, until he was exposed and sent to prison. He went to the University of Pittsburgh’s law school. Did that school make him do what he did? If he had gone to Harvard, or Cooley, would he have practiced law any differently?

Let’s look at Richard Nixon’s lawyers. John Erlichmann, send to prison and disbarred, went to Stanford Law School.  John Mitchell, also locked up, also disbarred, graduated from Fordham Law. John Dean, who was sent to prison and disbarred, got his law degree at Georgetown. Speaking of Georgetown, Stephen Glass, the disgraced journalist deemed possessed of so wretched character that California declared that he can never be a lawyer and have a chance to screw up like Michael Cohen, attended t Georgetown Law Center, which, as I have written about here, has a law professor who was previously a bank robber. Thomas Cooley Law School never sank that low.  Until recently, GULC also had an adjunct ethics prof who turned out to be a meth dealer. That guy, Jack Vitayanon, got his degree at Columbia Law School, just like Roy Cohn. What a coincidence! Or is it….?

As you may know, I also got my law degree at Georgetown, so if I go rogue, you know who to blame. Wait, maybe you don’t. The one to blame will be ME. Continue reading

Silence U Part 2: Indoctrination At Yale, and Beyond

A new, intensely short documentary about the cultural rot underway at Yale (but not only at Yale) is worth viewing, if you have a firm grip on your skull. Yale, is, of course, the source of many U.S. leaders and opinion-makers, including Supreme Court justices and recent Presidents. As one can see from the video, it is either indoctrinating the young minds in its charge in oppressive, anti-speech and liberty ideology, or, to give a large benefit of the doubt, failing to disabuse students of toxic and anti-democratic ideas that the educational system has also seeded.

Needless to say, but I’ll say it anyway, Yale is an elite institution, a role model for others, and supposed to represent the best of higher education. Its students will take their place among the intellectual and economic elite. Nobody who has been paying attention to the logical and legal contortions being used by the supporters of “the resistance” should be surprised that our most promising students are being trained to reason like this. The question is: does it make sense for a nation to actively support an educational system that appears to have become dedicated to undermining the basic values its founding was based upon?

The former-Provost of Stanford University, John Etchemendy, recently gave a speech he called “The Threat From Within” in which he said in part.

Over the years, I have watched a growing intolerance at universities in this country – not intolerance along racial or ethnic or gender lines – there, we have made laudable progress. Rather, a kind of intellectual intolerance, a political one-sidedness, that is the antithesis of what universities should stand for. . . . We need to encourage real diversity of thought in the professoriate, and that will be even harder to achieve. It is hard for anyone to acknowledge high-quality work when that work is at odds, perhaps opposed, to one’s own deeply held beliefs. But we all need worthy opponents to challenge us in our search for truth. It is absolutely essential to the quality of our enterprise.

The problem bites when a particular ideological sect gains power, and meticulously and systematically sets out to make diversity of thought inaccessible. Professors and scholars inhospitable to progressive cant are becoming extinct on college campuses, by design, just as they are an endangered species in newsrooms and Hollywood. Over at the increasingly had-left legal website “Above the Law”—you know, the one that kept erasing my e-mail alert requests every time Ethics Alarms criticized the site; the one that employs Ellie Mystal, a black lawyer who has advocated that black jurors refuse to convict black defendants—writer Joe Patrice  mocked the concept of advocacy for “viewpoint diversity” as argued in this letter from a group of law professors: Continue reading

Unethical Website Of The Month: “Above The Law”

above-the-law

Stay classy, Above The Law!

Above The Law, which styles itself a legal profession gossip site and half-baked professional ethics watchdog, has been a useful resource for me on occasion, though the commentary of its writers, particularly lead writer Elie Mystal, has often left a lot to be desired ethically and logically. My last four posts regarding Above the Law, going back a year, have been Ethics Dunce entries, and there easily could have been more.

I used to get Above the Law’s stories sent to my in box, as I had subscribed several years ago. Then I noticed that I wasn’t getting them any more, so I subscribed again. I got notices for a few days, then they stopped. Again I subscribed. Again, my subscription vanished.

I just re-subscribed today, and expect that I will again be cut off.

Ethics Alarms has, it seemed, been “unfriended” by Above The Law, because I have had the impertinence to point out the increasingly lunk-headed ethics confusion and partisan bias of the site. Wow, that’s petty!  That’s also cowardly: the site seems to think that if I don’t know about their frequently misguided posts, I wouldn’t be able to criticize them. In fact, they are mostly right. I have now more than once gone many weeks without noticing the lack of the site’s notices in my e-mail. Life without “Above the Law’ is still rich and full of joy.

I did check today, however, which is when I discovered my latest subscription was gone with the wind. While I was responding positively to the site’s invitation to me to subscribe (for the 4th time), I checked the most recent posts, and saw this, from Elie, naturally…

Praising a recent post by a professor who was criticized for openly supporting Black Lives Matter—a group that declares on its website that the deaths of “Alton Sterling and Philando Castile at the hands of police” were “murders” before any investigation or assessment of the events leading up to the shootings has been completed—Mystal’s post, titled “To Be Honest, I’m In No Mood To Explain #BlackLivesMatter To White People Today” reads in part… Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: “Above The Law” Creator David Lat

The guy on the right feels happy and safe with everyone knowing he's gay, so the guy on the left is a fool for not wanting a sleazy website to tell the world that HE'S gay. Wait..WHAT?

The guy on the right feels happy and safe with everyone knowing he’s gay, so the guy on the left is a fool for being angry at a sleazy website for telling the world that HE’S gay. Wait..WHAT?

Every now and then, the Washington Post publishes an opinion piece from a guest commentator that crosses the line  distinguishing eccentric from irresponsible. Today’s essay by David Lat, the founder and CEO of the legal industry gossip site Above the Law, is an example of this bad habit. How wrong do one’s logic, values and message have to be before the Post deems them unworthy of promotion and wide consumption? Apparently, there is no limit.

Lat’s essay flagged its obtuseness immediately in its title: “Being Gay Isn’t Shameful, Do Why Does Outing Matter?” (The online version is “Peter Thiel had no reason to be angry at Gawker for writing that he’s gay.“)

The impetus for the article—it is so ethically deranged that I almost think it has to be a joke: who thinks like this?—is the news this week that  wrestler Hulk Hogan’s devastating and perhaps fatal lawsuit against Gawker Media was bankrolled by Peter Thiel,  the billionaire co-founder of PayPal and an  early Facebook investor.  Gawker outed him in a 2007 story, and Theil is using Hogan’ suit over Gawker revealing a sex tape to try to put the ethics-free celebrity-abusing site out of business. Thiel is just being petty and unreasonable, says Lat. Lat is gay and proud of it, so  Thiel should be too!

Writes Lat—whose own gossip site is not above revealing embarrassing facts about well-known figures for its readers’ titillation: Continue reading