Hurricane Ethics: The Ultimate Betrayal

I can’t bear those photos of abandoned and abused animals, so here’s the never abused  Marshall dog, Rugby. He can trust us. (OK, we can’t always trust him, but he’s a Jack Russell. He has our informed consent to be unreliable.)

Authorities in Palm Beach County, Florida discovered dozens of dogs  left behind by owners who evacuated in advance of Hurricane Irma, leaving the pets tied up or trapped in cages or pens without any means to escape or survive the storm. Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control was able to rescue 40 such dogs before the storm struck Florida.  Director Dianne Sauve told USA Today that in cases where she can identify owners of these abused animals, she would press felony charges for animal cruelty. “There is absolutely no excuse” for leaving the dogs like that, she said, noting that there are two shelters that allow residents to bring pets along with them.

I don’t comprehend how a human being could do this to an animal that they have accepted the responsibility of caring for. The conduct is an ultimate betrayal of reliance and trust. Dogs always fulfill their ends of the ancient agreement between them and people. They provide companionship, unconditional love, support and comfort in exchange for care and shelter. Abandoning a dog like this—“Hey, what’s the big deal? They’re only animals!”—represents such a basic failure of responsibility, fairness, kindness and caring that no one who betrays a dog so heinously should be trusted in any other field of endeavor or social context. If you don’t respect the lives of animals, that’s fine, but then don’t have pets. Don’t make an animal love you, and then leave it to die in fear and pain. How hard is that? Continue reading

Ethics Heroes: The Orleans Public Defenders

foldersWhen is it your ethical duty to refuse to do your job? Here is one example.

The Orleans Public Defenders office finally decided to force the issue of under-funding for the defense of indigent criminals in the city, announcing last week that, as Chief Defender Derwyn Bunton warned nearly two months ago without any official response, it will begin refusing to handle serious felony cases in which defendants face lengthy or life sentences. Such cases include murder, attempted murder, forcible rape and armed robbery.

The office either needs more funding or reduced caseloads. The city must provide a lawyer for those charged who cannot afford counsel (The 6th Amendment and the Supreme Court insist) , but like almost every city in the nation, the funding for the New Orleans public defenders service is pitiful. With an inadequate staff of lawyers who must handle more cases than it is possible to defend competently, this creates both a Constitutional crisis and an ethical one.

Defense lawyers, like all lawyers, must do a competent job. The professional ethics rules require attorneys to control their workloads: Comment 2 to ABA Rule 1.3, which corresponds to the Louisiana rule, states that a lawyer’s workload “must be controlled so that each matter may be handled competently.” Most public defenders offices know that their clients’ right to representation is being compromised by under-funding, but choose to soldier on, doing the best they can. Several years ago, one office even argued that their clients had “consented” to less than competent representation, because the alternative was no representation at all.  (The court did not agree.)

The American Bar Association addressed this problem in a formal opinion, and wrote, Continue reading

Unethical Quote of the Month: Jeb Bush

Well , there goes the "smart Bush" theory...

Well , there goes the “smart Bush” theory…

“Yes, they broke the law, but it’s not a felony. It’s an act of love.”

—-Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, in comments about illegal immigration delivered at an event the George H. W. Bush Presidential Library,.

The statement by Jeb Bush has its sunny side, I suppose: with any luck, it should ensure that we don’t have a Bush-Clinton contest in 2016. Maybe that was Jeb’s intent. Otherwise, his comments are irresponsible attacks on the rule of law, common sense, fairness and national sovereignty.

The whole, mush-headed, contradictory, absurd quote:

“There are means by which we can control our border better than we have. And there should be penalties for breaking the law.But the way I look at this — and I’m going to say this, and it’ll be on tape and so be it. The way I look at this is someone who comes to our country because they couldn’t come legally, they come to our country because their families — the dad who loved their children — was worried that their children didn’t have food on the table. And they wanted to make sure their family was intact, and they crossed the border because they had no other means to work to be able to provide for their family. Yes, they broke the law, but it’s not a felony. It’s an act of love. It’s an act of commitment to your family. I honestly think that that is a different kind of crime that there should be a price paid, but it shouldn’t rile people up that people are actually coming to this country to provide for their families.”

Seriously, Governor?

Continue reading

Incompetent Elected Official Of The Month: Virginia Delegate Tom Garrett (R-Lynchburg)

It just doesn’t get much dumber than this, friends.

Why are Republicans still picking on Bill Clinton?

Why are Republicans still picking on Bill Clinton?

Delegate Garrett has proposed a bill that would make oral or anal sex with a minor a felony in Virginia. The state’s laws currently make regular, run of the mill sex between an adult and a 15-to-17-year-old a misdemeanor only, and designate sex between 15-to-17-year-olds as no crime at all. So, Professor Eugene Volokh points out,  “if two 17-year-olds are choosing whether to have oral sex or genital sex, the law would push them towards the form of sex that is more likely to transmit disease, and more likely to cause unwanted pregnancy.” The law also covers prostitution, making oral sex with a prostitute a felony for both sides, while genital sex is  only a misdemeanor.

Just as children shouldn’t be allowed to play with sharp objects, weapons and matches, individuals as devoid of common sense and basic reasoning skills as Tom Garrett should never, ever be allowed to participate in law-making. OR play with sharp objects, weapons and matches.


Pointer and Source: Volokh Conspiracy.


“Ethics Dunces Assemble!” Supporting Vigilante Justice In The U.S.

“You know…morons.”The Waco Kid, “Blazing Saddles.”

This really does explain a lot…

The Waco Kid’s (Gene Wilder) sage description of “the common clay” to Sheriff Bart (Cleavon Little) when the latter was devastated by his treatment at the hands of the good (but  racist) citizens of Rock Ridge often comes to mind in times like this, when I see a large portion of the public, pundits and the media taking a position that is not merely ethically indefensible, but suggestive of brain death.

Such a position is the rush to rally around Emilio Chavez III, an understandably enraged father who caught a naked peeping Tom masturbating outside his  teenaged daughters’ bedroom window. From media reports:

“Police said Emilio Chavez III, his brother and a family friend beat the alleged peeper, Dylan Maho, 29, so badly that he was hospitalized, a local television station reported. The district attorney wants to charge Mr. Chavez with aggravated battery, a third-degree felony that could land him in jail for three years…Mr. Maho is in stable condition at the hospital and will be charged with voyeurism, a fourth-degree felony that only brings between one and two years of jail time.”

The headlines in the majority of national news sources—all what the mainstream media would call “the conservative media”— that have covered this story, for this is the feature of the incident that they deem makes it “national news,” is the “Believe It or Not!” angle that so backward are the priorities of the U.S. justice system that the father will face harsher punishment for his conduct than the sick pervert will for his! Here’s passage and quote included in most of the reports:

“Community members voiced their outrage and sympathy for their neighbor’s plight. ‘There’s a naked man outside his daughter’s window,” Mr. Chavez’s neighbor Bill Morgang told the station. “I think he was well within his rights chasing him down and beating him.”’

The overwhelming majority of the online comments to these news reports agree with Morgang.

From the Washington Times: Continue reading

Should a Prosecutor Be Lenient So A Rich Felon Can Keep His Big Bucks Job?

Good intentions, it is said, pave the road to Hell. It’s an especially direct road when the good intentions are those of a prosecutor who doesn’t have the skills or common sense to reach the correct decision to resolve a rather easy ethical conflict. An ethical conflict occurs when there are valid ethical arguments for diametrically opposed actions, and one must weigh the priorities, implications and likely results in order to make the most ethical choice. Mark Hurlbert, the district attorney for Eagle, Colorado, faced such a conflict, as prosecutors often do. He botched it royally, and that road he’s paving is going to reach far beyond Colorado. Continue reading