Saturday Ethics Run-Down, 7/20/2019: Perry Mason, Kamala Harris, And Home Runs-On-Demand

I’m calling it a run-down because I’m run down….

1. More “phantom document” ethics. Last moth I wrote about the ethically dubious “phantom document” tactic, in which a lawyer alludes to a document he or she either does not have, or suggests a document has content it does not in order to trick a witness into recanting testimony.

I just saw the Eighties made-for-TV movie “Perry Mason Returns” that rebooted the classic series (and not so well) for an aging Raymond Burr. The great defense lawyer comes out of retirement to defend old legal assistant Della Street (Barbara Hale), who has been accused of murder. In the trial’s climax, Perry’s investigator Paul Drake, Jr. (played by Hale’s real-life son, actor William Katt of “The Greatest American Hero” fame) bursts into the courtroom and hands Perry a document, which he then holds as he asks the witness (Richard Anderson, playing a different role than he played in the original series) he was in the midst of cross-examining, “Would you like to reconsider your testimony? Would you like me to read a sworn statement from Bobby Lynch, in which he says you hired him to kill Arthur Gordon?”

The witness confesses that he planned the murder that Della was being tried for, and framed her. Della goes free! Perry then tells Della that there was no sworn statement. “I didn’t say I had a sworn statement,” he chuckles, “I just asked if he wanted me to read one.” Continue reading

The Fifth Annual Ethics Alarms Awards: The Worst of Ethics 2013 (Part Two of Three)


The Ethics Alarms review of a truly disheartening year in ethics continues with fallen heroes, ficks, fools and follies with Part Two of the 2013 Worst of Ethics awards….and there’s one last section to come. Be very afraid:

Fallen Hero of the Year

Edward Snowden, whose claim to civil disobedience was marred by his unwillingness to accept the consequences of his actions, whose pose as a whistle-blower was ruined by the disclosure that he took his job with the intention of exposing national secrets, and whose status as a freedom-defending patriot lies in ruins as he seeks harbor with not only America’s enemy, but a human rights-crushing enemy at that. The NSA’s over-reach and mismanagement is a scandal, but Snowden proved that he is no hero.

Unmitigated Gall of  The Year

Minnesota divorce lawyer Thomas P. Lowes not only violated the bar’s ethics rules by having sex with his female  client…he also billed her his hourly fee for the time they spent having sex , a breach of the legal profession’s rule against “unreasonable fees.” Yes, he was suspended. But for not long enough…

Jumbo Of The Year

(Awarded To The Most Futile And Obvious Lie)

Jumbo film

“Now, if you had one of these plans before the Affordable Care Act came into law and you really liked that plan, what we said was you can keep it if it hasn’t changed since the law passed.”

—–President Obama

2013 Conflicts of Interest of the Year Continue reading

Bob Filner Is A Fick

Leroy Fick (L); unidentified woman, (C) Mayor Filner (R)

Leroy Fick (left); unidentified gropee, (right); Mayor Fick (far right)

“Fick” is a term of art on Ethics Alarms, describing the rare unethical miscreant who is not only  engaged in misconduct but perfectly happy to profit from it in full view of the public eye, apparently without shame. The appellation  is named after the despicable Leroy Fick, a Michigan lottery winning millionaire who exploited a loophole to keep getting public assistance. Ficks are the worst of the worst.

San Diego Mayor Bob Filner is a fick.

As the number of women who have accused him of groping, head-locking, kissing or otherwise sexually harassing them climbed beyond 18, Filner adamantly refused to do the right thing and resign (call me crazy, but I think even Bill Clinton would have had the decency to resign if a new Monica surfaced every other day for a month), even as other allegations of his misdeeds in the financial realm were being investigated. Knowing the recall effort rapidly gathering steam would cost the city many thousands of dollars, and understanding that San Diego was being humiliated as well as being barely governed while Mayor Fick, er, Filner, held it hostage, the city council has negotiated an exit by Filner, one that requires the city to pick up his legal tab, as well as the damages or settlements he would otherwise pay in any law suits against him arising out of his various incidents of harassment. Continue reading

The Cesspool of Government Ethics: Louisiana Edition


Comparing ethics to Ms. Jones' position is apples to Oranges...

Comparing ethics to Ms. Jones’ position is apples to Oranges…

Are government ethics at all levels really getting worse, or is it just that we have more and easier access to the evidence than we used to? I hope it’s the latter. I fear it’s the former. Certainly I have never seen anything as disgusting as San Diego Mayor Filner’s determination to stay in office as evidence mounts that he is a serial sexual harasser and a menace to any woman who is unfortunate enough to come within arm’s reach. Despite the fact that the number of women coming forward to accuse him has reached eleven (actually I haven’t checked since last night…it’s probably more by now), and despite polls that show that two-thirds of the city’s voters think he should resign ( the other third are Democrats, which should, but won’t, cause some critical self-examination by the party that claims to be on the right side in “the war against women”), Filner refuses to do the honorable thing, and instead will force the city to spend millions on a recall.

The carnivals of the shameless in San Diego and New York have been keeping less spectacular but equally troubling tales elsewhere from getting proper attention. In Louisiana, for example, where ethics has always meant something other than, well, ethics, we have this  sequence of events.

Orange Jones is the executive director for the New Orleans chapter of  Teach For America. Which she was elected to the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, the state’s Ethics Board chose to declare, in opposition to the recommendation of its own attorneys, that the obvious conflict of interest—Teach For America bids on state teaching contracts, which are awarded by the board—wasn’t one, on the disingenuous theory that Jones was only the head of the city’s Teach For America operations, not the whole state’s. Continue reading

“Progressive” Values On The Campus: Rape, Tolerated; Free Speech, Not So Much

Now does it make sense to you, Juanita?

Juanita Broadrick: Now does it make sense to you, Juanita?

If one wants to puzzle through how Democrats can simultaneously trumpet a “War on Women” while generating standard bearers like San Diego mayor Bob Filner (now up to 9 identified sexual harassment victims, and counting; the latest appears to be Marilyn Monroe), Anthony Weiner, and of course, ex-President Bill Clinton (recall Juanita Broadrick?) , one need only to examine the schizophrenic values being nurtured in our great liberal arts universities, with the encouragement of the values–challenged Obama administration.

In May, universities received an ominous letter from Departments of Justice and Education announcing new guidelines regarding “sexual harassment” on college campuses. The new standards prohibit “any unwelcome conduct of sexual nature” and  include “verbal” conduct, meaning free speech is now officially suspect…and no longer free. (But if you have been following the news lately, you know that in Barack Obama’s America, free speech is just a trading chip for “higher priorities.”)

The new standards apply to every college receiving federal funding. According to Greg Lukianoff, president of FIRE, the government mandates  would allow a student to be charged with harassment if he asks another student out on a date and the target of his attentions deems that request “offensive.” Telling a sex joke could support a sexual harassment charge, as would using the word “fuck” in the presence of a female who resented it. FIRE points out that many presentations, debates, and expressions on campuses can now be censored as sexual harassment, citing campus performances of “The Vagina Monologues,” debates about sexual morality, and pro-con discussions on gay marriage as potential offenses.  Lukianoff, protesting that DOJ and DOE have now established speech codes that violate the First Amendment and completely ignore decades of legal precedent,says he is appalled at the attack on “free speech on campus from our own government.”

Appalled, yes, but certainly not surprised. The grip of political correctness is grasping for the throat of Free Speech in the Obama years, as the news media sits complacent and inert. FIRE is among those with the courage and determination to fight this blatant abuse of government power, but that does not diminish the seriousness of a Federal government that pays its election IOU’s to women’s rights groups by sacrificing free speech on campus.

But it’s worse even than that, for the modus operandi of this federal government, adopting the proclivities of its leader, is to speak loudly and carry a wet noodle. Just as the President is fond of making demands, ultimatums and condemnations, drawing lines and telling us to “make no mistake” about where he stands, and then following up with no tangible or meaningful action whatsoever, thus does his government fail to protect women’s bodies while trying to control what they hear. The 2011 federal Title IX investigation into Yale’s mind-blowing tolerance of rape on campus (it is referred to there as “non-consensual sex”) concluded  with a voluntary resolution that allowed Old Eli to avoid any disciplinary action for creating a “hostile sexual environment,” and this time we don’t mean allowing dirty limericks. Continue reading

Profiles In Expediency: Former San Diego Assemblywoman Lori Saldaña

"You knew!"

“You knew!”

If you have been wondering, as I have, how it could have been possible for his party and colleagues to nominate hands-on San Diego Mayor Bob Filner, serial sexual harasser, predator, and master of “the Filner Headlock,” without knowing of his ongoing War on Women (karma’s a bitch, Democrats!), so have I, and so have a lot of San Diegans. Sure enough, it turns out that indeed the party did have advance notice that Filner had a problem (though not as big a problem as any female staffer who came within his reach), but inflicted him on San Diego anyway.

So says former Democratic assemblywoman Lori Saldaña, who told the media that in the summer of 2011 six San Diego women prominent in local politics, business and education alerted her that Filner had physically or verbally harassed them.  Saldaña said she duly warned former party Chairman Jess Durfee about the evidence and Durfee was among a group of Democratic leaders who met with Filner to discuss the issue that summer. Nothing happened. Filner was nominated and elected, and the rest is history, headlocks, fanny pats, gropes, stolen kisses and mayoral solicitations of sex from subordinates and colleagues.

San Diego is such a friendly city.

“As disgraceful as Bob’s behavior has been, it’s been tolerated by our Democratic Party leadership,” Saldaña scolded. Continue reading