1 A solution to a perpetual problem. I do the mandatory introduction to legal ethics for two jurisdictions. Both are early in the morning,and both have courts monitoring them, insisting that to get credit, attendees must be present for every second of the course. The problem: late arrivals. One of my jurisdictions had a tendency to let late-comers in if it’s just a few minutes, but sometimes it gets ridiculous. Once the line is blurred, when does it get hard again? I have sen the administrators tell a lawyer that she is absolutely the last one who will get a break, only to see another late comer burst through the door panicked, upset, and with a doozy of an excuse…and then another, and another. This is especially ironic because lawyers are ethically required to be on time to court, or else.
In my other jurisdiction, they deal with the problem by absolute enforcement. 30 seconds late, and you have to come back next month. It doesn’t matter why, it doesn’t matter where the lawyer came from (one had flown in from Seoul and was two minutes late). If you arrive after the doors are closed at 9 am sharp, you can’t get credit. This, as you might imagine, often sparks tantrums, tears, threats, and “Do you know who I am?” One furious attendee actually cast a curse on every bar employee in sight. I’m talking about a real curse, right out of the movies, pointing and chanting. Some months we have had more than ten latecomers in the lobby, acting like an angry mob, and threatening a riot.
This jurisdiction has solved the problem by recently telling all who need the course on the bar website and in email messages that the program begins at 8:30 am, when it really doesn’t. In other words, the solution is a lie: if someone arrives at 8:59, there’s no problem.
Is this ethical?
2. Oh, this was obviously going to be an ethics rain wreck long ago. AG Sessions announced that the Justice Department would not be following the Obama Administration’s policy regarding federal anti-pot laws—which is to say, it would not signal that it wouldn’t enforce the law. As a result, Corey Gardner, Republican Senator from happily stoned Colorado, announced that he would block any appointments to Justice until the Department charged with enforcing laws agrees to stop enforcing laws. What Sessions did is not the draconian reversal it has been represented as by the Angry Trump Hate Mob, Stoner Chapter. Read the order from Sessions here.
Never mind. Following the lead of California, which has officially announced that it will encourage breaches of the immigration laws, now Colorado wants to impede the functioning of national law enforcement to force the federal government to let another state veto drug laws. This is what we call “a dangerous and irresponsible trend.”
3. The Tragedy of Joanie Cunnningham. The New York Times Magazine ended the year with biographical sketches, including the sad story of Erin Moran, aka Joanie Cunningham on “Happy Days,” who died of cancer in 2017. It’s an all-too-typical story of a child star with a dysfunctional family who grew up on a set without ever receiving the parenting and support she needed to be able to become a functioning adult. I knew about Moran’s problems after the show ended; I did not know that her bitterness about her fellow cast members stemmed from her feelings as a child that her TV family was a substitute her real family, and that they failed her. Of course, the Cunninghams, Fonzie, Ralph and Potsie had no duty to become Moran’s surrogate family, but I am not surprised that a child actor would feel this way, especially one who was being neglected and mistreated at home the way Erin Moran apparently was. Interestingly, child actor advocate Paul Petersen has said that his TV mom and dad, Donna Reed and Carl Betz, did act as his surrogate parents in important and beneficial ways.
I continue to believe that using child performers before the age of informed consent is unethical. Continue reading