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

Comment Of The Day: “The Infuriating, Incompetent, Border Wall Debate”

Zoe Brain weighs in with a typical (for her) carefully researched and detailed comment—two, actually, that function as one— regarding border walls as a matter of science and practicality, an obviously deserving Comment of the Day. Even if Zoe’s quoted experts were 100% correct on a factual basis, and they might be, it does not necessarily mean that a wall/fence/some kind of barrier would not have value. I particularly object to this statement from the first of the experts:

The whole situation needs to be addressed, and building a wall is a feel-good solution that is being pushed more because it pisses off Democrats than because it is a practical solution.

That’s anti-Trump bias, flat-out and undeniable, and untrue. President Trump did not propose a wall while running for President to piss off Democrats. He obviously believes a wall is necessary, and if Democrats showed that they would support a wall, he would not suddenly declare that he didn’t want a wall. At this point, he wants a wall because he promised one, and because he believes that he must fulfill that promise to keep faith with the people who elected him. There is no question, however, that the reverse is true. Democrats are willing to cause all sorts of collateral damage to deny the President a political victory and to signal to their open-borders base that they really don’t want the flow of illegals into the U.S. to stop. They could trace DACA for the wall, which would be effective, pragmatic, traditional politics. Trump would agree to that. A biased statement like the above makes me doubt the starting point of any analysis.

I also object to what follows this statement,  a random list of alternative ways to spend the same amount of money. Playing that game with 5 billion dollars is intellectually dishonest, because one could easily find that amount by cutting all sorts of wasteful expenditures. NPR and PBS cost about a a half billion dollars, for example, and there is no excuse whatsoever for taxpayers to pay for commercial television and radio. It also assumes that it will be any easier getting more practical or realistic measures funded, because, again, Democrats only talk about “comprehensive immigration reform” so people can imagine whatever they want. The last time they seriously discussed stemming illegal immigration, they were talking about fences and walls. What that party has been promoting since is a “path to citizenship” for anyone who illegally enters or stays in the country and who doesn’t break other laws, and sometimes even for the ones who do. This is a message has the effect of increasing illegal immigrants, of course. 

It doesn’t take a genius, an expert, an engineering degree or a lot of thought to conclude that there is a lot wrong with a border wall as long as the one proposed. However, at this point, a giant sign in multiple languages that reads, “To those who are tempted to enter the United States without following the appropriate procedures and laws, STAY OUT. You are not welcome. Your children are not welcome. We mean it.” The Government of the United States of America.

Sending that message alone is worth 5 billion dollars.

Finally, this statement (By Zoe’s Expert 1) is fatuous and dishonest:

At the same time, set up a program to accept people as economic refugees under temporary visas contingent on locating a job and keeping out of trouble. Spend some time on outreach in Central and South America to counteract rumors and misinformation about immigration to the United States. This comes back to the point about simplifying the immigration system. If you can’t explain it to a Guatemalan peasant, then saying “obey the law” is meaningless because he cannot understand the law. For that matter, you can’t understand immigration law. Immigration lawyers don’t understand immigration law. The f*cking INS doesn’t understand immigration law – ask any immigrant.

Illegal immigrants can understand THIS much: There are procedures and laws governing who is eligible to enter the United States, and if you are tying to storm the border, sneak across the border, get into the country on false pretenses and scatter, or get a temporary visa and then violate it, you’re breaking the law. I don’t think that’s too hard to “understand.”

Here is Zoe Brain’s Comment of the Day on the post, The Infuriating, Incompetent, Border Wall Debate: Continue reading

The Infuriating, Incompetent, Border Wall Debate

Those entrusted with arguing for particular contentious public policy options have an obligation to do so competently and honestly. Few things in the public arena are more infuriating tha watching the wise and responsible point of view go spinning down in flames because its advocates are inarticulate, confused, repulsive (thus letting the Cognitive Dissonance scale take over), illogical, addicted to rationalizations,or stupid.

Unfortunately, most of our public policy controversies fall into this category. There might have been an intelligent social policy debate to be had over whether marriage should be extended to same-sex couples, but one the opponents resorted to religious dogma or straight-up bigotry, the argument was lost. Affirmative action is on the way to extinction in part due to blatantly hypocritical, pretzel-like arguments from its advocates: in a holiday discussion, an Asian-American woman told me that she did not support the lawsuit against Harvard for res ipsa loquitur discrimination against Asian students because the suit was being pushed by racists.

Oh.

Bye!

The debate over  tightening security at our boarders is literally a no-brainer—of course the U.S. should take necessary measures to prevent illegal immigration—that is increasingly brainless. Give President Trump the prize for starting it down this route. Either intentionally or because the man simply cannot express himself with precision, he initially framed the need to enforce our immigration laws with the confounding statement, “They (that is, Mexico) aren’t sending us their best people.” Well, yes, I guess it would be nice if a better class of illegal immigrants breaking our laws and defying our procedures was getting into the country to steal as many benefits of U.S residence that they can, but in truth it doesn’t matter whether illegal immigrants are the best people or the worst people. I don’t care if every one of them is a candidate for sainthood; it’s not up to foreign citizens to unilaterally decide who lives in the United States, and they have no right to defy our sovereignty. That’s it. That’s enough. It would be nice if no terrorists could gain access to their hunting ground through the porous enforcement Democrats and cheap labor-loving business interests have inflicted on us, but it would be no less imperative to enforce out borders if there were no terrorists. There is no valid, sensible, logical or honest argument from any perspective that we should allow people who come here a) to do so and b) to avoid enforcement of the laws they broke as long as they don’t break other laws. Continue reading

And I’m Asking PETA To Change Its Name To “Grandstanding Cretins…”

From the New York Times, and not, sadly, “The Onion”:

How is this unethical, as opposed to stupid and the epitome of self-parody? Well..

It is disrespectful to the town to presume it would agree to be exploited as a billboard for a fanatic advocacy organization.

It is demeaning to assume that residents of a municipality would allow non-residents from a deranged organization to change their town’s name in exchange for “a cozy, cruelty-free blanket.”

It unfairly implies that there is anything unethical about the name “Wool.”

It undermines the important cause of the ethical treatment of animals by associating the cause with wacko extremists who cannot distinguish between real issues and ridiculous ones.

It wastes the contributions of serious donors on self-defeating nonsense.

For a refresher course on just how embarrassing PETA is to the legitimate cause of preventing animal cruelty, go here.

Here We Go Again: Harvey Weinstein, Lisa Bloom And The Thing About Lawyer Ethics That The Public And The News Media Just Cannot Seem To Grasp

LawNewz writes, and in so doing wins a Legal Ethics Dunce so easily that I’m not even going to bother,

Feminist attorney Lisa Bloom, who has represented dozens of women against accused sexual harassers like Donald Trump and Bill O’Reilly, is now representing an alleged sexual harasser. In, quite frankly, a shocking move, Bloom agreed to give her “advising” services to film studio executive Harvey Weinstein, who is accused of harassing women over a thirty-year timespan. Immediately, many in the legal world wondered what would motivate such a principled women’s rights advocate to represent a man facing such sordid accusations.

Weird! I have the strangest feeling I have been here before…it’s Ethics Alarms déjà vu!

No, I have been here before, and if you’ve read the blog regularly, so have you, like here, for example, when the post was called,  No, There Is Nothing Unethical Or Hypocritical About A Feminist Lawyer Defending Roger Ailes.or here, when I defended Hillary Clinton….yes, you read that right…when she was being called a hypocrite for once defending not only a child rapist, but a guilty child rapist.  Then there was this post, when liberal icon Larry Tribe was representing a coal company. Bloom, Tribe, Estrich and Hillary all have the same defense, not that lawyers should need a defense for being lawyers.

Let’s see…I think I’ll quote myself from the Hillary piece this time… Continue reading

No, There Is Nothing Unethical Or Hypocritical About A Feminist Lawyer Defending Roger Ailes

"A feminist lawyer like Estrich taking on the same clients men do? That's outr...wait, what side am I on again?"

“A feminist lawyer like Estrich taking on the same clients men do? That’s outr…wait, what side am I on again?”

Fired Fox News creator Roger Aisle hired renowned feminist lawyer and teacher Susan Estrich to defend him against the sexual harassment law suit filed by former Fox Blonde Gretchen Carlson. Responding to shock and disappointment among some feminists and others that Estrich would “abandon her principles” to defend such a client, Slate’s feminism reporter Nora Caplan-Bricker authored a post titled “The One Good Reason for a Trailblazing Feminist Lawyer to Defend Roger Ailes.”

This is in the category of a supposedly enlightening post that actually makes readers less informed. There only needs to be one Reason for a Trailblazing Feminist Lawyer to Defend Roger Ailes, and it is a great reason. Susan Estrich is  a lawyer; lawyers defend people who are sued; lawyers do not have to agree with, support or approve of  a client’s alleged actions requiring such a defense; and there’s is no reason in legal ethics or any other ethical system that argues that a U.S. citizen shouldn’t have access to the best representation possible.

For her part, Estrich has said that she is taking the case because “The individual gets convicted long before he or she has had an opportunity to defend himself. And that’s not fair, whether it is happening to a woman or a man.” That’s the civil law equivalent of the late Johnnie Cochran defending his accepting O.J. as a client by saying, “In this country, everyone has the right to be treated as innocent until found guilty by a jury of his peers.”

Partial translation of both statements: “I’m a lawyer, and I don’t judge my clients. That’s not my job. My job is to help them use the law and legal system for their own purposes and protection, like any other citizen.”

I’ve written about this aspect of lawyers’ vital function in society, one that non-lawyers just cannot seem to grasp, so many times. Here’s a recent post; but maybe this one from 2015 is more on point. That one was about progressive legal icon and Harvard law prof Larry Tribe representing Peabody Energy, the world’s largest private-sector coal company, in a lawsuit that sought to invalidate some EPA regulations adverse to their horrible, evil, earth-destroying–but legal!–business. Tribe was called a traitor to the Cause of turning the U.S. into a wind and solar run nation, and I explained that the attacks on him, like all such attacks, were based on a stubborn lack of comprehension by non-lawyers, writing..

That is what lawyers do, and what they exist to do: represent citizens and companies as they seek to avail themselves of their guaranteed right to use the law to protect their interests. The public and media just don’t get it, and appear to be immune from educating on the subject: what your lawyer personally believes about your cause doesn’t matter. His or her job isn’t to judge you or your purpose. It is to give you the chance to use your rights to due process and the courts to have the law work for you rather than against you, and to have your position, if legal, serious and offered sincerely, represented by the best legal talent available.  Whether or not Tribe personally believes or supports the position being taken by his client is irrelevant to his role, unless he is so unprofessional (as in emotional and unable to overcome his own biases) that he can’t represent a client whose objectives he opposes. Then he would be obligated to refuse the representation. Then he would also be a poor lawyer, and Lawrence Tribe is anything but.

Replace “Larry Tribe” in that paragraph with “Susan Estrich”, and save me some time.

Thanks! Continue reading

Update: Unethical Research, Unethical Headline, Unethical Media Report: “Many Parents Will Say Kids Made Them Happier. They’re Probably Lying”

Yij = β0j + β1jX1ij + β2j Zij + Eij

Yij = β0j + β1jX1ij + β2j Zij + Eij

Reader and commenter Alexander Cheezem issued an energetic objection to my post about another happiness study, which you can read, along with my rebuttal, in the comment threads to the post, here. His main two complaints were that I didn’t read the study itself, and that I unfairly called it  policy advocacy disguised as objective social science research.

I didn’t read the study itself because the only link the Post provided was not accessible without joining a service I didn’t care to join, or take the time trying. Alexander kept referring to a “direct link,” an unfortunate and misleading description of a link that goes to a page with a link to the study that doesn’t respond when you click on it, and are directed to “register.” [ CORRECTION: This is what I thought at the time. It has been pointed out to me that the first time the reporter linked to “research,” it wasn’t the study she was writing about, but another, behind a paywall. The second link on “research” did go to a live link to the actual study. Having been frustrated once, I assumed that the second link would also be to the same  inaccessible link. My error—though I’m furious at the Posts’s incompetence—and I apologize to Alexander.]

Other Bill, who flagged the Washington Post headline and story initially, has provided a free and direct link It is here.

I am relieved to find that reading the entire study revealed nothing that I didn’t discern from what the Post reporter wrote, and checking the accessible links she provided. (Obviously, it would have been preferable to read the whole study initially, and I would have, if a functioning link was provided, as it should have been.). Let me take that back a bit: the study itself was worse than I thought.

Here’s why: Continue reading