Spurious And Vindictive Litigation Ethics: An Update On The Ethics Alarms Defamation Lawsuit

As I predicted yesterday, upon being informed that the plaintiff’s motion to reconsider the rejection of his appeal of the trail court’s rejection of his defamation suit had also been rejected, the now-banned Ethics Alarms commenter filed a petition for “futhur Appellate review” with the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court.

The argument presented is an extension of his appellate brief, which erroneously relied on Milkovich v. Lorain Journal Co., 497 U.S. 1 (1990), a Supreme Court case that is not germane to this one. The plaintiff isn’t a lawyer, though he is inexplicably confident of his legal analysis skills, which is unfortunate for both of us, as well as the poor judges and clerks in Massachusetts who have to waste their time and the State’s money dealing with these flawed motions and appeals.

The reason there was no defamation and could be no defamation is that my opinions of the plaintiff and his motives, harshly expressed as they may have been, were based entirely on what he had written on the blog and an email to me that I quoted, as well as the plaintiff’s own blog, to which I included a link. The core of defamation, be it libel or slander, is alluding falsely to or asserting some undisclosed event or conduct that a reader or a listener has no way of knowing whether it is in fact true or not. That was indeed the situation in Millkovitch, where  a newspaper columnist’s account of a brawl at a high school wrestling match reported that one of the teams’ wrestling coach, Millkovitch, had incited the riot and lied about it. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 11/4/2019: Ethics Alarms Threats, Lawsuits, Censors And Foes

Good morning!

I’m hoping that I can get back on a more regular schedule soon, and I want to express me thanks for everyone’s patience with the unexplained gaps in commentary and the “warm-ups” that have been turning up ad odd hours of the night.

1. Ethics Alarms defamation suit update! The banned Ethics Alarms commenter whose feelings I hurt received notice that his appeal of the trial judge’s rejection of his absurd defamation claims was rejected, as was his motion to file a non-conforning brief, and his motion for sanctions against me as a Massachusetts lawyer.  Within minutes he had filed a motion for reconsideration. This, of course, requires me to file a response. It is vengeance by pro se abuse, of course, and wildly unethical, but I assumed this was what I was in for.

2. More “Welcome to my world!” notes. A Democratic  candidate for Congress in Michigan whom I referenced as an aside in this post in June about one of Rep. Ocasio-Cortez’s dumb tweets invaded my in-box last night to ask that I take down the post, saying in part,

I am sending this email to you to formally request that you remove my name from this website. As you are aware AOC has received a number of death threats.  I am a candidate running for Congress in Michigan and I recently had someone shoot a bullet through the window of our headquarters.  We are in the process of getting security however your decision to place my name on a website with someone who is constantly in danger [is] extremely dangerous to my safety and the safety of others. I have contacted the police & I am also in the process of contacting the FBI.  I will be certain to point out your website.

To which I said, in essence, “Bring it on.” I don’t respond well to threats, especially stupid ones. This party really does have a problem with free speech, doesn’t it?

3. Here’s why I don’t belong to the American Bar Association…President Trump’s Ninth Circuit judicial nominee Lawrence VanDyke was called arrogant, lazy, ideological and an anti-LGBTQ bigot in the American Bar Association’s official evaluation of his qualifications for the post. This was based on accusations against the nominee from unnamed associates, sniping at him from the shadows of anonymity.

“Absolutely outrageous and couldn’t be further from the truth,” protested Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt. VanDyke served as state solicitor general under Laxalt, Others interviewed by the ABA for the reports said that their positive recommendations were greeted with perfunctory indifference by ABA personnel. Joseph Tartakovsky, Nevada deputy solicitor general for three years under VanDyke, said his ABA phone interview lasted  seven minutes at most, during which “it was clear to me that she was going through the motions.” Tartakovsky said he was “surprised and dismayed” when he read the ABA’s critical letter, as he  gave VanDyke a strong recommendation, saying he was an “exceptional lawyer” and “born to be a judge.”

I don’t know anything about VanDyke, who could be a legal genius or a judicial hack. I do know the American Bar Association has long been dominated by Democrats and progressives, and is among the many professional associations that has disgraced itself and its members by tacitly allying itself with the “resistance.” The ABA has been incapable of objective assessments of the qualifications of judicial nominees for decades, and should not be trusted with the assignment.

4. Facebook ethics, or what passes for them. Facebook honcho Mark Zuckerberg upset his troops when he announced that his social media platform would not fact-check political ads and censor them for being “false.” Facebook had been using the biased and untrustworthy PolitiFact and Snopes as fact-checkers, so obviously his was the right decision. His minions, however, have been vocal in dissent, even recruiting Hollywood Hard-Lefty Aaron Sorkin to write an “Open Letter” of protest.

I obviously have some experience with Facebook’s objectivity in deciding what information should be published or not, since Ethics Alarms has been banned from the site without any explanation. These people can’t distinguish “facts’ from opinions they don’t like, especially when the opinions contradict the agendas of the Axis of Unethical Conduct (Democrats, “the resistance,” and the mainstream media). Sorkin claims that he fears for children believing that “Kamala Harris ran dog fights out of the basement of a pizza place while Elizabeth Warren destroyed evidence that climate change is a hoax and the deep state sold meth to Rashida Tlaib and Colin Kaepernick.” but the sooner kids learn how to sniff out garbage, the more competent adults they will be. Who is Sorkin kidding? He knows it isn’t the crazy stuff he wants Facebook to smother: he doesn’t want ads that argue that Democrats have been trying to overthrow a President without winning an election, because when you are conducting a disinformation campaign you don’t want any opposition.

 

Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 9/22/2019: Five Ugly Ethics Stories (Sorry!) [Corrected]

A pleasant Sunday…

as long as I don’t read the newspaper or watch the Talking Heads…

1. Before I finish a long post about the most recent contrived Brett Kanavaugh smear by the New York Times, ponder this quote from the Times review of “The Education of Brett Kavanaugh”: “[The authors] come to a generous but also damning conclusion, which is that Blasey Ford and Ramirez are believable and were in fact mistreated by Kavanaugh as teenagers, but that over the next 35 years he became a better person.”

Ugh. The conclusion is “damning” because it relies almost entirely on confirmation bias: Blasey Ford’s own lawyer revealed that her motive in using her “recovered memory” against Kavanaugh was to discredit any future anti-abortion opinions he participated in as a member of the court. The accusation by Ramirez isn’t, apparently, even believable to Ramirez herself, since she says she isn’t certain that the Mad Penis-Dangler was Bret Kavanaugh. Why then, do the authors find the claims “believable”? Oh, because they want to believe them, of course; they work for the New York Times, and they certainly weren’t going to get their book promoted by their employer and snatched up by its readers if they concluded, as objective reporters would, that there is no more reason to believe Justice Kavanaugh did these things than there is reason to believe he didn’t.

The real ugh is this, however: if even these biased analysts conclude that the accusations, even if true, do not have any relevance on the grown man who was nominated to the Supreme Court because they relate to a minor who existed 35 years ago—and who has, as most children do, grown up—then the episodes that their book focuses upon literally don’t matter, shouldn’t have been brought into Kavanaugh’s hearing,  and should not be used now to denigrate and discredit him.

2. From “Social Q’s,” a glimpse of what a malfunctioning ethics alarm is like. Prompting the frequently appearing question in my mind, “How does someone get like this?” was the query into Phillip Gallane’s advice column from a woman who threw herself a birthday party, directed guests not to bring gifts but to make a donation to a charity she supports instead, and was annoyed that some brought gifts anyway. She asked if it would be inappropriate to send the gifts back with a disapproving note so they “would listen” to her “next time.”

I know what I would do “next time”…

3. Hey, sounds great, Facebook! Why wouldn’t everyone trust your judgment? Facebook announced  a series of changes last week to squelch hate speech and extremism—meaning what Facebook and its allies consider such— on its platform in a letter to the chairman of a House panel. Facebook said it would prevent links from the fringe sites 8chan and 4chan from being posted on its platform—you, know like it blocks links to Ethics Alarms!  Then it explained how it would develop an oversight board of at least 11 members to review and oversee content decisions—like the decision that a wide-ranging ethics blog that has no political affiliation or agenda, written by a professional ethicist of some note, doesn’t meet the Facebook “community standards.”

In other, unrelated news regarding the obstacles being thrown in my path, the Appeals Court in Massachusetts finally alerted me that it was taking “under advisement” the request for an appeal of the rejected frivolous defamation suit filed about two years ago by a banned commenter here whose boo-boo I wounded.

(I am not concerned.) Continue reading

Noon Ethics Warm-Up, 9/10/2019: Fat-Shaming, Race-Baiting, And Terrorist-Tarring [UPDATED]

ARRGH!! Half-way through the day, and not out of my pajamas yet!

1. Here’s the kind of comment that won’t get an aspiring  new commenter approved…From Erik Guettler: “It’s sad that you think you actually know anything about ethical behavior by criticizing Bill Maher, while Donald Trump’s the most unethical, openly racist and corrupt president Americans have ever had.”

The comment fails on many levels. To begin with, it’s stupid (there is a stupidity justification among the Ethics Alarms banning tenets.) Criticizing Maher for his frequent absence of functioning ethics alarms cannot make me think I know anything about ethical behavior. The opposite is true: it is because I am an ethicist that I criticize Maher, though it hardly requires an expert to recognize his unethical conduct.A relatively well-raised 17-year-old could do it.

Second, the comment breaches basic ethical analysis principles, not to mention common sense: President Trump’s conduct is irrelevant to how unethical Maher is, as is my criticism, or not, of the President. Third, his list of Trump failings is—oooh! Let me finally use this!NPC junk. Neither he nor anyone can find me any “openly racist” conduct or statements on the President’s part, for this is one of the Big Lies (#4, to be exact.) I have gone through this dance with many Trump Deranged Facebook friends. Challenged to back up the “openly racist” lie, they babble about how he challenged Obama’s birth certificate, and go downhill from there. The statement that he is the “most unethical” President, personally or professionally,  is proof of historical ignorance and bias. Unethical he is, but whether Trump’s lack of ethics is more or less substantive than that of Andrew Jackson, James K. Polk, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, Jack Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon or Bill Clinton is a matter of legitimate disagreement. The “corrupt” accusation is also non-substantive, unproven, and based on supposition and bias rather than evidence.

But never mind all that: the claim that Ethics Alarms has somehow ignored Donald Trump’s ethics deficits is so easily disproved that the insulting comment is an example of reckless disregard for the truth.

Bite me, Erik.

And don’t come back.

2. While we’re on the topic of Mr. Maher’s ethics…Here is the professional asshole in his most recent HBO episode:
Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up: The “I Should Be At The Beach” Edition…

Good Morning!

Is everyone vacationing this week but me? I can detect such things from blog traffic—this week has been sparse. Unfortunately this is the legal ethics CLE busy season, so I have been furious preparing materials for three new three-hour programs: “The Legal Ethics Mine Field,” “Legal Ethics Squeeze,” and a new musical ethics seminar for the New Jersey Bar Association, “Ethics Blues,” with the talented Esther Covington. It features legal issues-stuffed parodies of such songs as “Copacabana,” “Sweet Caroline,” “Piano Man,” “You Made Me Love You,” “Isn’t It Romantic” and “Let it Be,” among others. I’ve been writing parody song lyrics since I was 9, and much as I enjoy it, it is mentally exhausting in a way nothing else is.

1.  The anti-Trump news media is all a twitter because former GOP Congressman Joe Walsh might challenge President Trump for the nomination. Joe Walsh!  He’s the only member of Congress ever designated a fick by Ethics Alarms, in this post, about how Walsh, a Tea Party fiscal responsibility hawk who once lectured Barack Obama about how he was placing a burden on the backs of Walsh’s children, owed  $117,437 in unpaid child support to his ex-wife and those already burdened, kids, three of them. For this and other transgressions he was defeated for re-election, and Joe’s now a talk show host, presumably with the same audience that took guidance from former radio bloviators Ollie North and Gordon Liddy.

2. On the innocent until proven guilty front…there has been a spate of defamation lawsuits lately in which priests accused of sexually molesting boys accuse the Catholic Church of ruining their reputations based on publicizing unsubstantiated accusations of pederasty.

A Fresno, California priest,  Craig Harrison, who is facing multiple allegations of sexual abuse, is suing an established  Catholic watchdog group Roman Catholic Faithful (RCF). seeking “unlimited” damages as a result of RCF President Stephen Brady’s “appearance at a press conference in Bakersfield” that addressed “allegations of sexual misconduct” made against Harrison. The lawsuit and summons were filed this month after the Bakersfield Police Department (BPD) concluded an investigation that it said  exonerated Harrison. Brady says that the lawsuit may be intended to discourage other ongoing RCF investigations. Continue reading

Addendum: To Be Fair, Elizabeth Warren Wasn’t The Only Democratic Presidential Candidate Who Lied About The Death Of Mike Brown Last Week. She Was Just The Worst…

Last week, on Friday and Saturday, Democratic Presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren, Rep. Tim Ryan,  Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, Beto O’Rourke, Kirsten Gillibrand, Bernie Sanders, and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio all tweeted out deliberately false statements about the shooting of Michael Brown in Fergusen, Missouri 5 years ago, all apparently doing so to pander to African Americans, especially those who don’t read newspapers.

Ethics Alarms focused on Warren, being the biggest and most shameless demagogue of the group, in this post, which concluded,

“Warren isn’t intellectually lazy, or flummoxed by a false narrative. She is pandering. She is lying. She is doing what she evidently thinks will gain her power and the Presidency: saying what she thinks will attract needed support, even though she knows, knows, that it is false. Warren is a law professor and a litigator, and from all reports skilled in both roles. She knows that the facts made it obvious that Brown wasn’t murdered. She knows that competent, fair citizens must not call other citizens murderers when not only have they not been charged, tried, or duly convicted, but when authorities have concluded that there is insufficient evidence for an official accusation.The tweet isn’t a mistake or an opinion. It is a deliberate lie, a public and a defamatory one. I see no reason why Darren Wilson could not sue Warren and win.”

That is still accurate and true. Several Ethics Alarms readers pointed out that Kamala Harris also advanced the long de-bunked narrative that Mike Brown was a nice, friendly, “gentle giant” heading for college who was gunned down by a racist cop while holding up his hands and pleading for his life. Continue reading

“Unethical” Is Too Mild To Describe Elizabeth Warren, And “Gullible” Is Too Nice To Describe Her Supporters

Above is what Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, who presumes to tell us that she is qualified to be President of the United States,  tweeted to her followers last week. This deliberate and disgraceful lie could be presented on Ethics Alarms as evidence that Warren is an Ethics Dunce. It would easily qualify as an Unethical Quote of the Week (Month…Year…). It is fully qualified as an Unethical Tweet of the Week, in a category that is becoming increasingly contested. None of these, however, quite capture the miserable, cynical, disgusting nature of Warren’s statement. Continue reading