Tag Archives: Arkansas

Comment Of The Day: “Ethics Dunce, Judicial Division: Arkansas Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen”

The post about the absurd Arkansas judge who saw nothing wrong with taking part in some anti-death penalty protest theater shortly after halting some scheduled executions. Can we say “objectivity”? Sure we can!

The impetus for Steve-O-in NJ’s Comment of the Day was what could be called dicta in the original post about the dubious role models for judicial conduct currently sitting on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Here is Steve-O-in-NJ’s Comment of the Day on the post, Ethics Dunce, Judicial Division: Arkansas Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen:

I agree that SCOTUS needs an ethics code, but, in all fairness, did Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, or Nixon ever attack the SCOTUS or a decision in a speech or an address? FDR was far more politically powerful than Obama ever could hope to be, but even he knew when to back off the SCOTUS. That said, I wonder if he knew from the get-go he was going to break the 2-term tradition and just wait the court out, as justices either died or retired and he replaced them with like-minded judges.

What do you think of an age limit for Federal judges, setting either 70 or 75 as a mandatory retirement age? Although Article III judges serve for the term of their good behavior, arguably that Article didn’t conceive of Federal Judges living well past 70 regularly and living and serving into their 80s and 90s uncommon but now certainly not unheard of. If we can revisit Presidential terms of office, which we already have, if we can revisit the Electoral College, which we already have once and some are asking us to again, and if many vocally want us to revisit both the First and especially the Second Amendments, all of these due to changing circumstances (breach of the 2-term custom, the emergence of political parties, alleged hate speech, and the evolution of firearms beyond single shot muskets) then arguably we can revisit Article III as well.

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Filed under Comment of the Day, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Professions

Ethics Dunce, Judicial Division: Arkansas Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen

 

That’s the judge lying down. At least he wasn’t wearing his robe…

Arkansas circuit judge Wendell Griffen granted a temporary restraining order last week halting the Arkansas Department of Corrections from executing seven condemned prisoners within eleven days as it had planned, as Griffen barred the use of one of the ingredients in the lethal drug “cocktail.” A federal judge followed up quickly with anothee order likewise barring Arkansas from proceeding to execute anyone with a lethal injection. Mission accomplished,  Judge Griffen decided to reward himself by attending an anti-death penalty rally in which he participated with elan, playing a condemned prisoner lying prone on a lawn chair as if it was a gurney.

What fun! And what an idiot! No ethics alarms went off, despite the fact that he was flagrantly displaying his bias against the death penalty immediately after interfering with the state’s law enforcement based on a fair and objective interpretation of the law.

State officials were outraged, and argued that Griffen’s conduct proved that he was not capable of impartiality in capital cases. Ya think?

Yesterday the Arkansas Supreme Court pulled Griffen from all pending death penalty and lethal injection protocol cases. It also referred him to the state’s Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission to determine whether he violated the Code of Judicial Conduct.

Good. Continue reading

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Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Professions

Dentistry Ethics, Arkansas-Style: “Nice Little Dental Practice You Have Here, Dr….Too Bad If Anything Were To Happen To It!

Smiling female dentist procedure of teeth cleaning

In 2013, Dr. Ben Burris, a successful Arkansas orthodontist, began offering low-cost teeth cleanings at his 11 offices around the state. This, he says, was a public service on his part, as he knows that preventive care is critical for teeth and that citizens who can’t afford dental insurance, which is expensive, often neglect cleanings. His cleanings cost $99 for adults and $69 for kids, far less than what other dentists charged in the state.

Burris quickly heard from  the Arkansas State Board of Dental Examiners and was told that he was breaking the law.  The Board threatened him with loss of  his license if he didn’t cease his bargain  cleanings. Why?

Well, Arkansas, like some other states, prohibits licensed dental specialists like orthodontists from doing work outside of their specialty even though they are certified to practice general dentistry.  With over a hundred employees out of work, Ben suspended the program.

What’s going on here? Boy, I did a seminar on dental ethics a few years ago: I wish I had another one where I could discuss this. The regulation is nothing more than the profession lobbying the legislature and limiting services to drive up prices. What other possible explanation is there? Cleaning teeth is not the rocket science of dentistry, and any qualified dentist should be completely competent to supervise the task, especially since much of teeth cleaning is handled by hygienists. A licensed dental hygienist is legally qualified to work in a general dentist’s office or that of a specialist without restrictions.  But the orthodontist was venturing outside of the little specialist’s box the state had built for him. Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Childhood and children, Citizenship, Ethics Dunces, Government & Politics, Health and Medicine, Law & Law Enforcement, Rights

Is Predator Judge Joseph Boeckmann The Most Unethical American Judge Ever?

predator judge

To designate recently resigned Arkansas Cross County District Judge Joseph Boeckmann the most unethical judge ever would require disqualifying the Nazi judges sentenced at Nuremberg, Judge John Hathorne, who played both judge and prosecutor in the Salem witch trials, and probably some others who have escaped my attention. He is nonetheless a 21st Century low, and we can only hope his record for depravity and abuse of power is never exceeded.

Boeckmann’s resignation came after the judicial commission informed  his lawyer that it was in the process of recovering as many as 4,500  photographs from the judge’s computer, and that they showed nude male defendants who had appeared before him in court.

“They all depict young men, many naked who are in various poses inside the judge’s home and outside in his yard,” the letter stated. “There are numerous photos of naked young men bending over after an apparent paddling,” the letter reads. “Please accept this as notice to not destroy [or] otherwise dispose of this paddle.”

All right, that last part is funny.

The investigation had commenced after Boeckmann was accused of a conflict of interest, and then stumbled upon allegations  a dozen young men who said they received lighter sentences from the judge in exchange for sexual favors. Nobody expected to find evidence of what appears to be 30 years of his using threats of imprisonment or fines to extort young men for sex. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Gender and Sex, Law & Law Enforcement, Professions

Ethics Hero: Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel

Dustin McDanielSome attorneys general understand the obligation of a state’s highest legal representation, even if the Attorney General of the United States does not.

Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel, a Democrat,told the press yesterday that he personally  he supports allowing same-sex couples to marry,  but will nonetheless continue defending his state’s 2004 ban on gay marriages in court.

The news angle, as reported, was that McDaniel, a Democrat serving his final year as the Arkansas AG, is the first statewide official in conservative Arkansas to back same-sex marriage. Ethically, however, the significance is that although he disagrees with the current law of the state that is his client, he will nonetheless do his duty according to the laws he swore he would uphold….as he should, as an ethical and honorable lawyer who is there to serve the public’s interests, not his own conscience. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Ethics Heroes, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Romance and Relationships, U.S. Society

The West Memphis Three, Still Abused By Unethical Prosecution

Their real killer is still loose, but law enforcement doesn't care: it has the West Memphis Three to blame.

The release this week of the men railroaded into prison as teenagers for the 1993 killing of three young Cub Scouts in West Memphis Arkansas was covered by the news media in superficial and misleading fashion, concentrating on the human interest aspects of the event—a “happy ending” in which three wrongfully accused and convicted men finally get justice. This overshadowed the disgraceful performance of the justice system in general and the Arkansas justice system in particular. The circumstances of the men’s release were only slightly less revolting than their conviction, and the method by which it was achieved was thoroughly unethical.

Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin, and Jessie Misskelley Jr. had been in jail for 18 years, with Baldwin and Misskelley serving life sentences and Damien Echols languishing on death row. They are almost certainly innocent. Continue reading

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Filed under Citizenship, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Religion and Philosophy, U.S. Society