Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 3/18/2019: Paranoia, Pettiness, Pirro, Provoked Applicants, Piqued Students, Posturing And Progressives

Good Morning, Pacific Time Zone!

I’m heading to San Diego tomorrow to talk about “Five Looming Ethics Issues for Lawyers  and  Their  Corporate Clients”  to a group of over 600 lawyers. THEY don’t think my analyses of ethics issues violate community standards…okay. I admit it, I’m getting paranoid. Despite a lot of, I humbly believe, useful, timely and well-presented content, the weekend traffic was terrible, and comments were sparse, if excellent. This year, so far, is lagging behind last year, which seriously trailed the year before. What’s going on here? Has Google secretly joined Facebook in its efforts to keep the posts here from reaching an audience? Of could it be that I just suck? Maybe Donald Trump really has killed all belief in ethics…that’s the ticket! Blame the President!

1. Pettiness and vindictiveness vanquished. Good. The Judicial Council of the 10th U.S. Court of Appeals  has affirmed its December decision to reject 83 ethics complaints against Justice Brett Kavanaugh, all filed by bitter partisans who are determined to hurt the newest Justice because the Democrats’ slimy and unethical ambush tactics failed, as they should have. In a 6-1 decision, the judicial council affirmed its earlier finding that the federal law governing misconduct complaints against federal judges does not apply to justices on the U.S. Supreme Court. Many of the complaints filed against Kavanaugh argued he had made false statements under oath during hearings on his nominations to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in 2004 and 2006 and to the U.S. Supreme Court last year—you know, like having an innocent recollection of what “boof” meant in his completely irrelevant high school year book.  Other complaints accused Kavanaugh of making inappropriate partisan statements in his inappropriately partisan hearings, or claimed he treated members of the Senate Judiciary Committee with disrespect, or as I would put it, the disrespect they deserved for attempting to smear his good name and reputation through demagoguery and calls to reject the presumption of innocence.

Let me remind everyone that Ruth Bader Ginsberg, in her confirmation hearings, stated under oath that she had no pre-formed opinions that would affect her objectivity in abortion cases. Nobody filed any ethics complaints. Continue reading

Comment of the Day: “Look Out! There’s a Speed Trap Ahead!”

Veteran commenter Tim LeVier updates an older Ethics Alarms post about the ethics and law regarding the practice of flashing headlights at oncoming cars on the highway to warn them of speed traps. Police had been ticketing the flashers; I said that this was wrong, there being no law against the practice, but that warning law-breakers of a police presence was poor citizenship and unethical nonetheless.

I still feel that way, but insufficiently considered other reasons, ethical ones, that might prompt the same conduct. Tim, while pointing us to a more recent story on the topic, remedies my failure….as he has before. As usual, I am grateful.

Here is his Comment of the Day on Look Out! There’s a Speed Trap Ahead!:

“…A couple of points: Continue reading

“Look Out! There’s a Speed Trap Ahead!”

Who is your ally, the speeding motorist, or the traffic cop?

A lawsuit filed this week claims that 2,900 motorists were illegally ticketed in Florida between 2005 to 2010 for flashing their lights at oncoming, and speeding, cars to warn of speed traps ahead.  Apparently the police have been giving tickets to drivers sending a friendly “Cheese it! The cops!” message to scofflaws, in solidarity against the hated men and women in blue without benefit of an applicable statute.  The matter came to light when a college student on her way to school  spotted two  police officers on the side of the road and flashed her headlights to warn other drivers about the speed trap ahead. A police car pulled her over and the officer wrote her a ticket, saying she’d just broken the law by flashing her lights. She challenged the ticket and won, giving an enterprising lawyer an idea for class action lawsuit.

There is no Florida law that prohibits light-flashing, says Oviedo, Florida attorney J. Marcus Jones. He claims officers are simply misapplying a law that was designed to prohibit drivers from adding after-market emergency lights to their vehicles. He also claims that  officers writing those tickets are violating a driver’s constitutional right to free speech. If motorists want to flash their lights to warn about a speed trap ahead, they are free to do so, according to his suit.

Hmmmm. Continue reading