Last Gasp Ethics, New Year’s Eve 2020

Happy New Year, Everybody!

1. A late entry in the “Most Unethical Lawyer of 2020” competition! McGinnis E. Hatfield was stripped of his license to practice law by the West Virginia Supreme Court. What did he do? Well, this section of a transcript of his conversation with a female client explains things pretty well:

Female: “I thought like when we first started out, I was just going to pay you. I didn’t know that you wanted sex out of the whole thing.”

Hatfield: “Well, I’d have to charge you like $1,500 bucks. You don’t have $1,500, do you?”

Female: “No.”

Hatfield “So come on out here. Just come. What time do you want to come?… [I]t’s just not going to work unless you do what I say.”

Female: “What do you want me to do?”

Hatfield: “… “Well, I want you to let me eat your pussy, and then I want you to let – I want you to suck my dick, and then, you know, I just have to – I’m as straightforward as I can be. And if you don’t want to do that, then fine. I don’t have any- I like you. And if you don’t want to do that, then we’ll just have to call it off.”

Female: “Is that not – all right. That’s fine. Whatever.”

Hatfield: “Is that okay?”

Female: “I mean no, not really because I’m not a whore.”

Hatfield: ” … And like I said, if you won’t want to do that, then that’s fine by me. I wish you luck. And if you don’t want to do that, then I’m not going to try to represent you. So that’s a benefit for you. And I’ll give you some money, too[.]”… You know, I’m shooting straight with you. I told you from the beginning that sex was important to me. I want some now. Nobody’s tried to trick you. And it would be safe, too. But anyway, if you don’t want to do it, that’s fine by me, honey, but you’ll have to get somebody to help you with your divorce, too.”

Female: “Okay, That’s fine.

Of course, it’s not fine. Lawyers are prohibited from having sex with clients in most jurisdictions. Lawyers cannot encourage individuals, including clients, to commit a crime. Mr. Hatfield compounded his problems when he flunked the easiest part of a disciplinary inquiry, telling the judge who asked Hatfield whether in retrospect, he found his behavior inappropriate or unethical,

“I think my conduct in this whole situation is human. And that’s the only defense I’m offering. Lord knows, we all need that. So that’s as far as I’ll go with that.”

The judge tried again, asking, “Are you remorseful?” Hatfield replied, “No. I have no remorse. I feel like I’ve been victimized.”

What an idiot.

It put me in mind of the Steven Wright line, “How did the fool and his money get together in the first place?”

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Ethics Proposition: Justice Barrett Should Immediately Recuse Herself From Any Future SCOTUS Decisions Relating to the 2020 Presidential Election

Barrett Trump

I will stipulate that the newest Supreme Court Justice does not have to recuse, and that even the judicial ethics rules applying to other Federal judges (no judicial ethics rules are controlling for Supreme Court justices) would not require recusal in Justice Barrett’s circumstances.

I will also concede that the arguments that she should not recuse are significant and important:

1. Were she to recuse, it would be interpreted by many as an acknowledgment that her Senate critics and others were correct to suspect that she was nominated to assist the President if necessary in any Supreme Court challenges to the election results.

2. Her recusal would suggest a precedent holding that a Justice being nominated by a President creates a rebuttable presumption that such a Justice has a conflict of interest that would interfere with the Justice’s ability to exercise independent and objective judgment in any case directly affecting that President’s interests.

3. Her recusal would leave the Court with a potential 4-4 split on a case that would have major impact on the nation.

4. Democratic officials’ demands that she recuse herself are driven purely by partisanship, and are hypocritical. Justice Kagan, appointed by President Obama, did not recuse herself in cases involving the Affordable Care Act, for example.

All this is true,

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Good Morning! Here’s Your 2020 Election Ethics Train Wreck Update To Start The Week Off Right… [Updated And Revised]

red flags

NOTICE OF UPDATE: The numbers J.D. Rucker used in the sources for this post can no longer be verified. Now HIS alleged source is showing numbers that don’t support his argument. I can’t imagine that Rucker, who has some credibility and writes for various conservative publications, would make up statistics wholesale for a post about statistics. I can imagine the statistics being altered after he called attention to their suspicious nature, since there is such a concerted effort to discredit any claims that the voting totals may not be accurate, but there is no evidence of that. This is the whole problem. There are no reliable sources.

\You want smoke? You want red flags? You want the appearance of impropriety? You want to hear about yet another dubiously flipped crucial state in the 2020 election?

Conservative writer J.D. Rucker reported that numbers from DecisionDeskHQ showed that 5,867,609 people in Michigan voted for President  while only 5,717,819 voted in the hotly contested Senate election. That’s a 149,790 difference. As of the time of his post, he wrote, Joe Biden was ahead by 145,935 votes.

“What a coinkydink!” (Special credit for identifying the film quote and the actor!)

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Election 2020: The Appearance Of Impropriety Or Real Impropriety? Part II, An Accountant’s Analysis

Larry Correia, a perceptive blogger who approaches issues with the mind of a veteran accountant and auditor, has concluded regarding the 2020 election that “Fuckery is Afoot.” In a 3000+ word post, Correia (whose tart and blunt analysis I last featured here), begins,

I am more offended by how ham-fisted, clumsy, and audacious the fraud to elect him is than the idea of Joe Biden being president…. However, what is potentially fatal for America is half the populace believing that their elections are hopelessly rigged, and they’re eternally fucked. And now, however this shakes out in court, that’s exactly what half the country is going to think.  …In auditing you look for red flags. That’s weird bits in the data that suggest something shifty is going on. You flag those weird things so you can delve into them further. One flag doesn’t necessarily mean there’s fraud. Weird things happen. A few flags mean stupidity or dishonesty. But a giant pile of red flags means that there’s bad shit going on and people should be in jail.

Here are just some of the “red flags” that Correia identifies…

  • The massive turn out alone is a red flag.
  • The late-night spikes that were enough to close all the Trump leads are a red flag.
  • The statistically impossible breakdown of the ratios of these vote dumps is a red flag.
  • The ratios of these dumps being far better than the percentages in the bluest of blue cities, even though the historical data does not match, red flag.
  • The ratios of these vote dumps favoring Biden more in these few battlegrounds than the ratio for the rest of the country (even the bluest of the blue) red flag.
  • Biden outperforming Obama among these few urban vote dumps, even though Trump picked up points in every demographic group in the rest of the country, red flag.
  • The poll observers being removed. Red flag.
  • The counters cheering as GOP observers are removed, red flag.
  • The fact that the dem observers outnumber the GOP observers 3 to 1, red flag (and basis of the first lawsuit filed)The electioneering at the polls (on video), red flag.
  • The willful violation of the court order requiring the separation of ballots by type, red flag.
  • [The] USPS whistleblower reporting to the Inspector General that today they were ordered to backdate ballots to yesterday, red flag.
  • The video of 2 AM deliveries of what appear to be boxes of ballots with no chain of custody or other observers right before the late night miracle spikes, red flag.

Any of those things would be enough to trigger an audit in the normal world.This many flags and I’d be giggling in anticipation of catching some thieves…This is going to the courts.

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Election 2020: The Appearance Of Impropriety Or Real Impropriety? Part I, Georgia On My Mind

Georgia vote Count

I woke up this morning to find that overnight (at about 4 am) Georgia, a state President Trump had to must win to wend his way through the tiny window now open to his re-election (Arizona, Alaska, Georgia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania) had flipped to the Biden side with a less than a thousand vote edge to the ex-VP. This now makes three crucial states (the others being Wisconsin and Michigan) that switched leads in the dead of night…possibly a coincidence, but not a good look for Democrats, or the nation.

Of course this is substantially the result of mail-in ballots, which the Democrats championed. Anyone capable of thought could figure out that the system was a recipe for fraud, manipulation and chaos, so it is basic logic to presume that this is what the Democrats (and their allies, the news media) wanted. As I have read in maybe ten places this morning alone, the longer and more convoluted a process is, the easier it is to rig it. That is true.

See the tweet above? It appears that Democrats in Georgia organized to “get out the vote” after the election. Maybe there’s an innocent explanation, but 1) you can’t blame people for being alarmed 2) there are no such tweets from the Republicans.

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Day After The Day After Updates And Observations On The 2020 Election

Thanksgiving hangover

1. I had written some time ago that the best possible outcome ethically would be a Trump landslide, and the worst would be a Trump win in the Electoral College while losing the popular vote. Somehow I missed the obvious worst scenario, which is what we are getting: a mega-2000 mess, with multiple states in doubt for various questionable factors, resulting in litigation by both sides, stretching on into December.

This was one more example of how the false and biased polls interfered with legitimate analysis.

2. I have frequently praised Richard Nixon for passing on the opportunity to challenge the results in Illinois, Texas and other states after the 1960 election, and saying that it was more important to respect the process and not throw an election into turmoil. Of course, based on what we know about Nixon. That may have been a ploy and virtue signaling: while there was certainly some voting shenanigans, notably in Richard Daley’s notoriously corrupt Chicago, Nixon maybe have been told that he would lose anyway, and that challenging the results would make it harder for him to come back and win in ’64 or ’68. Nonetheless, Nixon set the norm, and Al Gore broke it in 2000. Now it seems insane for a party to not to challenge a close election if there seems to be any question about the legitimacy of the result.

That shift is also a reflection of the widening chasm between the two parties. There wasn’t much difference philosophically between the Democrats and Republicans in 1960, nor between Nixon and Kennedy. (There wasn’t much difference between their ethical instincts either, but we didn’t know that at the time.) Today there is every reason to believe that for a party to just shrug off the possibility that a Presidency has been stolen in the best interests of the nation is a breach of duty and a betrayal of the public trust.

However, a party (like the Democrats since 2016) or a candidate (like Hillary Clinton) continuing to deny the results after they have been validated is unforgivable and destructive.

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LATE Morning Observations On Election 2020. So Far…

Screenshot-2020-11-04-at-11.09.15-AM-600x391

Tip: The most important observation is the last one.

1. In the hours between when I started the last post when I got back out of bed two-and-a half hours later, two crucial states where the President was shown leading flipped to narrow leads for Biden. This does not prove or even suggest chicanery, but under the circumstances it looks bad. (“Gee, they cheat fast!” was a comment on one of the conservative blogs following the election live.) The meme above may be unfair, but it accurately expresses what went through my mind when I saw the new totals.

This is why it is unethical to create “the appearance of impropriety” if you have anything to do with the government. People need to trust the government, its institutions, and the fairness and openness of elections. The appearance of impropriety is just as damaging as actual impropriety. We have already seen this in the aftermath of the Mueller investigation and the prosecution of General Flynn.

2.  Both parties have worked to deliberately create suspicion about the political process, and the decision to vastly increase the use of mail-in ballots, in what should have been recognized as a close election, knowing that doing so would delay the process, create opportunity for mischief, and keep the results of the election mired in uncertainty for days and even weeks was either epically incompetent or sinister. Now, instead of the single state having a “too close to call” vote total with the Presidency hanging in the balance as in 2000, we have six, which will presumably multiply litigation and uncertainty. That’s a disaster, no matter what the final result is, and it is a disaster that should have been avoided at all costs. It was unethical and negligent not to avoid it at all costs.

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Thursday Ethics Thirst-quencher, 8/20/2020: Actually, This Doesn’t Taste So Good….

I filled in a gap in my history knowledge today, one I’m embarrassed to have had for so long. I remember being creeped out the first time I heard John Hinckley crooning the song he dedicated to Jodie Foster on her answering machine at Yale. “Ohhh Jodie! Ohhh Jodie! My love will turn you on!” All these years, I thought Hinckley had composed that song in his sick infatuation. Today, almost 40 years later, I found out that he just ripped off a John Lennon song called “Oh Yoko,” which I heard for the first time on the Beatles Channel on Sirius-XM. Am I the only one who didn’t know that? My ignorance is my fault: I would no more listen to anything extolling Yoko than I would voluntarily groove on “William Shatner’s Greatest Hits.”

And what was it about  Beatles compositions that inspired aspiring killers?

1. Yes, this seems rather irresponsible...Here’s a trailer for an upcoming Netflix series:

Over at The American Conservative, columnist Rod Dreher is disgusted, with good reason. He writes in part,

“Twerking their way to stardom. Eleven years old….These are little girls, and this Netflix show has the acting like strippers as a way of finding their way to liberation. What is wrong with these Netflix people? Do they not have children? Do they think our daughters are only valuable insofar as they can cosplay as sluts who are sexually available to men? ….There is nothing politicians can do about this…I hope sometime this fall a Senate committee calls Netflix CEO Reed Hastings] to Capitol Hill and forces him to talk about how proud he is that he has 11 year olds twerking on his degenerate network.”

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Goya Ethics

(Yes it’s unethical, but that photo just cracks me up.)

The United States Office of Government Ethics, which has the responsibility of “preventing conflicts of interest in the executive branch,” has among its guidelines ,

“Executive branch employees may not use their Government positions to suggest that the agency or any part of the executive branch endorses an organization (including a nonprofit organization), product, service, or person.”

The provision is clear, and I think obviously, necessary. Yet after anti-Trump zealots announced a boycott of Goya, the largest Hispanic-owned company in the U.S., after the company’s CEO Robert Unanue praised President Donald Trump in a Rose Garden event last week, the First Family went to extraordinary—and unethical—lengths to support the “buycott”  that conservative groups launched in response.

First, White House adviser Ivanka Trump posted a photo of herself holding a can of Goya black beans this week, captioning it, “If it’s Goya, it has to be good” along with the  translation, “Si es Goya, tiene que ser bueno.”

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So The Judge’s Wife Is On The Jury…Wait, WHAT?

“Hi hon!”

I haven’t seen this before.

Judge Thomas Ensor of Adams County, Colorado, now retired, sat back and allowed his wife to be empaneled on the jury trying Gary Val Richardson for allegedly firing one or two shots in the direction of police officers during a 2013 standoff.

The judge even thought the situation was funny. He joked during jury selection that lawyers should “be nice to Juror 25. My dinner is on the line.” After the jury was selected and sworn in, Ensor told the lawyers that he had never heard of a sitting judge having a spouse or family member on the jury. “There’s nothing wrong with it,” he said. “I think she’ll be a fine juror. I have not spoken to her about this case.”

One of my rules of thumb for avoiding legal ethics problems in trial is that if you’ve never heard of something being done before, there’s probably a good reason not to be the first to do it. Continue reading