From The Ethics Alarms Frivolous And Vexatious Litigation Files: The Ethics Alarms Libel Case

Once again, the appellate brief for the appeal in Massachusetts courts involving the defamation lawsuit against me and ethics alarms has been rejected by the courts as non-compliant. This is actually somewhat annoying, as I had almost finished the brief brief in response (in market contrast to the 70-plus page monstrosity that was served on me. It took several hours to read the thing, several days to recuperate from the barn fervor, that is, bran flavor…no, brain fever! That’s it!

having to decipher the damn thing inflicted on me, and several more hours to almost finish my professional, clear document designed to give the poor clerk and judges that would have to read the appellate brief a break. That stalled, because while I am entitled to have the Appendix to the appellant’s brief to refer to, it was too big a file for the court to send to me, so they were making a special file.

So now I’m confused about 1) whether the deadline for my response is reset, 2) whether I’m going to have to start my response all over again, and most of all, 3), how many times a pro se litigant with no clue what he’s doing whose only motivation is revenge and to cause as much expense and inconvenience as possible because I banned him from Ethics Alarms after I figured out that he was, well, the kind of person who would behave like this?

It is a great virtue of our nation and its legal system that it allows amateurs—I was going to write well-meaning and sincere amateurs, but that obviously doesn’t apply here—to stumble around in the courts. After all, lawyers are expensive, even more expensive than psychiatrists. Nevertheless, there has to be a limit, don’t you think? People like my adversary cost the system, and taxpayers, millions of dollars as they play around being lawyer because they are bored, ” a few cherries short of a sundae,” to quote the comment that started this fiasco, without gainful employment, or all three.

Or does my home state assume that eventually pro se litigants will be so embarrassed by the constant rejection that they will give up? Boy, I hope not, because this guy is impossible to embarrass .

Well, I guess I have to call the Clerk of the Court again. We’re getting to be great pals.

Sunday Ethics Leftovers, 10/21/18: Gibberish! Lottery Schemes! Comment Spam! Fake Protests!

Good night!

1. Comment moderation ethics. In many online news sites, including those of major newspapers, the comments contain  this spam:

I have received $18429 last month by working online from home. I am a full time college student and just doing this easy home based job in my spare time not more than 3 to 4 hrs a day. This online job is very easy to do and its earnings are awsome than any other office type full time job. Join this home job right now and start making more cash online by just follow instructions on this blog…..

I’m looking at a Boston Herald online article about the World Series, and out of 14 comments, 8 are some version of the text above. First of all, of course, the people who post it are unethical creeps, polluting a discussion forum to pick up some cash. The site operators are just as bad. If you can’t moderate a comments section and keep it readable and on-topic, then don’t have one. Lazy, irresponsible and with no respect for readers—and they wonder why the public doesn’t trust the news media.

2. Here’s a rule of thumb: If a group or individual publicly announces a formal ethics complaint being made against a lawyer or a judge, it an abuse of process and the complaint system. Such ethics complaints should be made privately, since they are investigated and only become public if reason is found to levy sanctions. The announcement of a complaint in a press release or other public forum means that the complainant is trying to impugn an individual without proof, fair gearing or due process.

Judicial Watch has filed a complaint against Christine Blasey Ford’s lawyers,  and released the letter to the bar to the public. There may be some grounds for discipline, though it’s borderline. More unethical, in my view, is Judicial Watch using the ethics complaint process as a political weapon.

3. Signature significance, but of what? Comedian Amy Schumer announced that she won’t appear in any Super Bowl commercials to show her support of Pioneer Pointless NFL Kneeler Colin Kaepernick. What is that? Can you boycott something you haven’t been asked to do? Why is she boycotting the Super Bowl to support a protest against (sort of) racial injustice and police brutality? If people were desperate to have Amy in an ad, what would they have to do? Pass laws letting people resisting arrest to threaten police officers without consequences? Authorize reparations to be paid to anyone with an Elizabeth Warren-like percentage of slave blood? Now, Amy protesting the fact that NFL is making billions by giving young athletes brain disease, that would make some sense.

I think making a pointless and silly announcement like this is signature significance for someone who  will do anything to get publicity and signal their virtue to the social justice warrior faithful. Anyone else would realize how idiotic it is. Continue reading

Ethics Dunce And Awful Human Being: Thomas Frieden’s #MeToo Victim…And Also, “KABOOM!”

Like “Advice Goddess” blogger  Amy Alkon, when I heard that Dr. Thomas Frieden, Obama’s former head of the CDC, had been arrested for sexual assault, I just assumed that he was one more prominent serial predator who has used his power to abuse women in the workplace, and a pretty serious one, if he ended up in cuffs. After all, nobody has arrested Matt Lauer or Charlie Rose.

Then I read the whole story, and my head exploded. But not because of what Frieden had allegedly done.

A 55-year-old woman, so far unidentified in the media (I want that woman’s namecame forward to the police in July and said that Dr. Frieden squeezed her buttocks without her permission nine months earlier, on October 20, 2017.  She told investigators the incident occurred  as she was leaving a gathering at Dr. Frieden’s residence in Brooklyn Heights. She said Dr. Frieden groped her while their spouses weren’t looking, and he later apologized, citing personal problems.. Dr. Frieden says the woman is a long-time friend and acquaintance of more than thirty years.

Got that?  Almost a year earlier, at a party, a male friend squeezed her butt. He apologized. She waited all this time, and then humiliated him professionally and publicly by having him arrested.

How can this conduct possibly be excused, and I mean hers. His conduct was wrong—I have never groped a woman’s ass or any other part of her body without clear consent in my life, indeed I have heard complaints that I don’t grope enough— and it was technically civil battery, but far, far from criminal. Having the man arrested is nothing less than a hateful, cruel, vindictive abuse of him, his family and the justice system.

We are told that this women—I want her name!—is a New York artist who has been a vocal #MeToo activist since the Harvey Weinstein Ethics Train Wreck started rolling and squishing, and  has been creating artwork related to the movement. She also wrote an article in an online publication describing that single grope, from a friend, at a party, as the moment she was transformed from activist to victim. Ah! Then treating an old friend this way is completely justified!

No, it’s not. She’s not just an ethics dunce, she’s an asshole.  Alkon–who gets the Ethics Alarms Pointer for this one— calls the grope, which is not sexual harassment, not occurring in the workplace or between superior and inferior, and not creating a hostile work environment, Continue reading

Ethics Quiz: Prosecuting Juliet In “Romeo And Juliet 2017”

Last month, on March 14, 11-year old Tysen Benz  read text messages saying that his 13-year-old girl friend had committed suicide. In apparent grief, the 11-year-old boy from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula hanged himself.  In reality, the girl had sent the fake news as a joke. Or as a cruel trick. Or because she was 13.

In the Shakespeare play, to fake her death Juliet took a sleeping potion that made her seem dead. (They didn’t have text messaging then.)

Now, if this was really “Romeo and Juliet,” Juliet would have killed herself too after learning that her boyfriend was dead. Instead,  she is facing criminal charges. Marquette County Prosecuting Attorney Matt Wiese says that she is responsible for Tysen’s death, so he is charging her with malicious use of telecommunication service, punishable by up to six months in juvenile detention. He is also charging “Juliet” with using a computer to commit a crime, which carries a sentence of up to a year.

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day is…

Is this a fair, just and ethical prosecution?

Continue reading

The Unethical, Depressing, Bar Complaint Against Kellyanne Conway

kellyanneThis post is one I do not want to write, and the fact that I have to write it is profoundly depressing. It requires me to criticize, indeed blow the whistle on,  professional colleagues in the fields of law and ethics, some of whom I know and admired very much, as well as fellow members of the District of Columbia Bar. Some of these colleagues are also members, like I am, in a distinguished association dedicated to the field of legal ethics. A superb book on the topic by one of the professors involved  sits in a prominent place in my office bookshelf.  I can see it right now.

Yesterday evening, I learned that a group of fifteen law professors and lawyers have filed a professional misconduct complaint against White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway, claiming that she violated the Rules of Professional Conduct for attorneys by giving false statements to the media. The fifteen signed the complaint, which was filed with the D.C. Bar’s Office of Disciplinary Counsel. When I read the names, signed on a statement printed upon the official stationery of Abbe Smith, a distinguished full time professor at my alma mater, (and where I worked in the administration for four years), Georgetown University Law Center, my heart sank. While I did not need to read the whole complaint to know it was contrived and intellectually dishonest nonsense, I did, and it fulfilled my worst fears. The anti-President Trump hysteria that has caused so many previously fair and rational citizens on the Left to behave atrociously and to betray their previously held values has officially infected lawyers in the legal ethics field. They are now riding the rails on the 2016 Post Election Ethics Train Wreck.

To be absolutely clear and unambiguous: the complaint is a political attack, and a cheap shot at the President of the United States through his staff. There is no merit to any of its contentions.

The professors claim that they were “compelled” to file the complaint because D.C. Rule of Professional Conduct 8.3 (a) requires that

“A lawyer who knows that another lawyer has committed a violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct that raises a substantial question as to that lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness as a lawyer in other respects, shall inform the appropriate professional authority.”

They are either addled by partisan political animus or lying, because there is no way, no way, these fifteen professors could know that, or even validly conclude it, based on what they have written in the complaint. To call their accusations against Conway a stretch is to be too kind. They are forced, exaggerated, trivial and manufactured. From what I have read in past commentary and opinions of several of them regarding other matters of lawyer misconduct, I have serious doubts about whether they believe them. I know that’s a serious charge, but I see no other explanation, other than temporary insanity.

To begin with, Kellyanne Conway is not working in a legal position in Trump’s White House. She is Counselor to the President, not White House Counsel. The President and Conway may choose, for his protection, to treat her non-legal policy advisor position as a legal representation, but the fact remains that she is not providing legal advice and services, only policy-related ones. Now, lawyers can violate D.C. Rule of Professional Conduct 8.4, Misconduct, while not engaged in the practice of law, but unless the conduct involved is criminal or displays “moral turpitude” sufficient to call into question the lawyer’s fitness to practice the likelihood of the conduct being regarded as sanctionable by the Bar is vanishingly slim.

From everything I can determines, Conway, though she is a member of the New Jersey Bar and an inactive (she needs to pay back dues and take my mandatory D.C. Bar ethics course before she can practice) member of the District Bar, has not practiced law in more than 20 years. She has been a pollster, an activist, a flack and TV personality as well as candidate  Trump’s campaign manager, but none of her professional profiles refer to her as a lawyer. The complaint alleges that Conway “engage(d) in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation” in breach of D.C. Rule of Professional Conduct 8.4 (c), and did so while not engaged in the practice of law.  In order to bring down the wrath of the Bar, such conduct must be extremely serious, criminal or bordering on it. Rule 8.3 “limits the reporting obligation to those offenses that a self–regulating profession must vigorously endeavor to prevent.” What kind of non-law-related “offenses” must “a self–regulating profession…vigorously endeavor to prevent”?  It is well established that questionable statements that an individual with a law license utters in the course of political activity and advocacy is not such conduct. Continue reading

Ethics Observations On FBI Director Comey’s Statement Regarding The Clinton Investigation

James Comey

The transcript of FBI Director James Comey’s full remarks on the Clinton e-mail probe follow. I will highlight important sections in bold, and in some cases, bold and red. My  observations will follow.

Good morning. I’m here to give you an update on the FBI’s investigation of Secretary Clinton’s use of a personal e-mail system during her time as Secretary of State.

After a tremendous amount of work over the last year, the FBI is completing its investigation and referring the case to the Department of Justice for a prosecutive decision. What I would like to do today is tell you three things: what we did; what we found; and what we are recommending to the Department of Justice.

This will be an unusual statement in at least a couple ways. First, I am going to include more detail about our process than I ordinarily would, because I think the American people deserve those details in a case of intense public interest. Second, I have not coordinated or reviewed this statement in any way with the Department of Justice or any other part of the government. They do not know what I am about to say.

I want to start by thanking the FBI employees who did remarkable work in this case. Once you have a better sense of how much we have done, you will understand why I am so grateful and proud of their efforts.

So, first, what we have done:

The investigation began as a referral from the Intelligence Community Inspector General in connection with Secretary Clinton’s use of a personal e-mail server during her time as Secretary of State. The referral focused on whether classified information was transmitted on that personal system.

Our investigation looked at whether there is evidence classified information was improperly stored or transmitted on that personal system, in violation of a federal statute making it a felony to mishandle classified information either intentionally or in a grossly negligent way, or a second statute making it a misdemeanor to knowingly remove classified information from appropriate systems or storage facilities.

Consistent with our counterintelligence responsibilities, we have also investigated to determine whether there is evidence of computer intrusion in connection with the personal e-mail server by any foreign power, or other hostile actors.

I have so far used the singular term, “e-mail server,” in describing the referral that began our investigation. It turns out to have been more complicated than that. Secretary Clinton used several different servers and administrators of those servers during her four years at the State Department, and used numerous mobile devices to view and send e-mail on that personal domain. As new servers and equipment were employed, older servers were taken out of service, stored, and decommissioned in various ways. Piecing all of that back together — to gain as full an understanding as possible of the ways in which personal e-mail was used for government work — has been a painstaking undertaking, requiring thousands of hours of effort.

For example, when one of Secretary Clinton’s original personal servers was decommissioned in 2013, the e-mail software was removed. Doing that didn’t remove the e-mail content, but it was like removing the frame from a huge finished jigsaw puzzle and dumping the pieces on the floor. The effect was that millions of e-mail fragments end up unsorted in the server’s unused — or “slack”— space. We searched through all of it to see what was there, and what parts of the puzzle could be put back together.

FBI investigators have also read all of the approximately 30,000 e-mails provided by Secretary Clinton to the State Department in December 2014. Where an e-mail was assessed as possibly containing classified information, the FBI referred the e-mail to any U.S. government agency that was a likely “owner” of information in the e-mail, so that agency could make a determination as to whether the e-mail contained classified information at the time it was sent or received, or whether there was reason to classify the e-mail now, even if its content was not classified at the time it was sent (that is the process sometimes referred to as “up-classifying”).

From the group of 30,000 e-mails returned to the State Department, 110 e-mails in 52 e-mail chains have been determined by the owning agency to contain classified information at the time they were sent or received. Eight of those chains contained information that was Top Secret at the time they were sent; 36 chains contained Secret information at the time; and eight contained Confidential information, which is the lowest level of classification. Separate from those, about 2,000 additional e-mails were “up-classified” to make them Confidential; the information in those had not been classified at the time the e-mails were sent.

Continue reading

When Big Corporations Act Exactly As Bad As Bernie Sanders Says They Are..

Thank you city

Banking behemoth Citigroup is suing AT&T for using  “Thank You” in ads, because Citigroup claims that it owns the trademark on “THANKYOU.” See, it’s not enough that corporations want us to think of them when we go to a baseball game or maybe when we are wishing that our children never existed. They want us to think of them when we are being nice, too

No, this is not a hoax. I wish it were.

Law professor/blogger Jonathan Turley, who hates this as much as I do, has kindly provided links to other examples of this nauseating phenomenon (this , and this, yes, and this , don’t forget this, oh, and this nonsense , this ,this too ,here ,here ,another one here, here as well, and this), but this is really the last straw, or should be. Continue reading