It’s “Be Kind To (Cute) Rapist Teachers Week” In Texas

That’s former Houston-area middle school teacher Marka Bodine above. Isn’t she pretty? Much too pretty to have to be in an icky old jail. So despite the fact that she was convicted of grooming, harassing, raping and continuously sexually abusing a 13-year-old student until he was 16 years old and finally alerted authorities, Bodine was only sentenced to to 60 days in jail with 10 years of probation. Shades of the infamous 2005 case of Debra Lafave, another sick but comely teacher who raped one of her 14-year-old students! Her lawyer successfully convinced the judge that their client was “too pretty for prison,” and honestly, who can argue with that? Here’s Debra:

As you can see, Marka isn’t quite the hottie that Debra was, so it’s only fair that she got some jail time. But wait! There’s more! Because Marka had given birth shortly before her sentencing (the baby was not her rape victim’s—Whew!that would be the saga of teacher rapist Mary Kay LeTourneau), Harris County Judge Greg Glass postponed her imprisonment for a full year. Continue reading

Unethical Quote Of The Month From An Unfit Biden Judicial Nominee [Corrected]

“I said it in my role as an advocate to make a rhetorical point.”

—-ACLU lawyer Nusrat Jahan Choudhury, nominated by President Biden for the federal judiciary, in response to a question by Sen. John Kennedy (R-La) about why she told a Princeton audience that police kill unarmed blacks “every day.”

In the exchange you can see in the video clip above, Choudhury’s excuse for lying outright to a student audience at Princeton is that she did it to “make a rhetorical point.” Oh! That’s all right then!

Sen. Kennedy was quite appropriately aghast, as should any professional, citizen, lawyer or judge should be. The President’s nominee to sit on the bench for the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York quite literally is saying that a lawyer can lie in public for a reason she deems appropriate. No, she can’t, not ethically, not if she wants to be trusted, and lawyers, like judges must be trustworthy. Her answer to Kennedy is signature significance for an unprincipled ideologue (her employer, the ACLU, is full of them, but that’s no mitigation) who is unfit to be a judge (and in my view, unfit to be a lawyer.)

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Capital Punishment Ethics Dunce: Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Stephen Hopkins

Bad decision, bad opinion, bad judge.

As regular readers here know, I strongly favor capital punishment, but only when there is no doubt whatsoever about the facts and the guilt of the convicted defendant, when the crime is so cruel, horrific and premeditated that normal murders seem tame in comparison, and when the procedural due process is followed to the letter.

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The Judge, The Video And The Slur [Corrected]

Judge Michelle Odinet of the City Court of Lafayette, Louisiana, resigned last week after being heard on a video using the term “nigger” while watching security footage of a foiled car burglary outside her home. In her letter of resignation to the chief justice of the Louisiana Supreme Court, Odinet said she was stepping down “after much reflection and prayer, and in order to facilitate healing within the community.”

“My words did not foster the public’s confidence and integrity for the judiciary,” she wrote. Yeah, I would say that that’s accurate. Still, it’s a strange story. In the video, voices off camera inside the judge’s home are heard saying “nigger” repeatedly and laughing as they watch security-camera footage of someone trying to break into a car until the criminal was foiled. Also used: “mom,” which is the judge, who was clearly joining in the hilarity.

The video was originally sent by an unknown source to a local newspaper, and when she was first questioned, Odinet tried to huminhumina out of the mess. She initially said she had no recollection of the conversation shown, and claimed that her “mental state was fragile” because of the attempted burglary. She also used the excuse that she had been “given a sedative at the time of the video.” Then she played the Pazuzu card (“That’s not me talking!”) protesting that “Anyone who knows me and my husband, knows this is contrary to the way we live our lives.” Continue reading

Proposition: A Refusal To Answer A Direct And Relevant Question Like This Should Immediately Disqualify A Judicial Nominee As Untrustworthy

Judicial nominee ducks

Anne Traum, a law professor at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, was nominated by President Joe Biden in November  to be the United States District Judge for the District of Nevada. Traum’s name was selected by a judicial commission in Nevada consisting of Democratic State Senators Catherine Cortez Masto and Jacky Rosen. During last week’s U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Republican Louisiana Senator John Kennedy, asked Traum, “Do you think we should forgive criminal misbehavior in the name of social justice?”

Prof. Traum replied, “Senator, thank you for that question. I recognize that all issues of crime and all responses to crime are fundamentally policy issues. So, those are important issues, they are important for our community and our nation, but I leave those policy issues to the policymakers if confirmed as a judge I would not be a policy maker.”

That does not respond to the question, and Kennedy was not satisfied. He asked again, after prefacing his second framing by saying,  “I’m not asking your opinion as a judge. I’m asking your opinion as a person, as a law professor. I’ll stipulate, with all of you, that you’re all going to be fair and unbiased.” Then he repeated,  “Do you think misbehavior and illegal acts should be forgiven in the name of social justice?” Continue reading

Now THIS Is The Appearance Of Impropriety…

impropriety

The big legal ethics story of the day is a Wall Street Journal report showing that 131 federal judges, appointed by nearly every President from Lyndon Johnson to Donald Trump, have violated federal law by failing to recuse themselves in cases where either they or family members held a financial interest in one of the parties, meaning that the judge’s decision could have resulted in a direct or indirect benefit. This is, of course, a conflict of interest. Even if the judge was as trustworthy as a saint and would never dream of allowing such a conflict to interfere with his or her judgment, allowing these cases to appear before them violates the judicial ethics canon requiring judges to avoid even the appearance of impropriety.

The Wall Street Journal report found that the judges failed to recuse themselves from 685 court cases since 2010. About two-thirds of all federal district judges had holdings of individual stocks, about one of every five of these heard at least one case involving those stocks without withdrawing. When these judges participated in such cases, about two-thirds of their rulings on motions favored the party that their or their family’s financial interests would benefit from prevailing.

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Dispatch From The Great Stupid, Judicial Division

Duran

Let me preface this absurd episode by saying that it makes no sense whatsoever, not ethically, not logically, and certainly not legally.

Craig Doran, the chief judge of the region that includes Rochester, New York, has resigned from his administrative judicial duties because an old photograph turned up from 1988 when he was a second-year law student. It was, yes, from a Halloween party, and showed him costumed as a “well-known public figure of color.” We aren’t even told who in any of the media reports. In case your calculator isn’t handy, that was 33 years ago.

Since his graduation from law school, Doran has had a stellar career. Elected in 1994 to represent New York State’s 129th Assembly District in the State Legislature, he was appointed Supervising Judge of Family Courts in the Seventh Judicial District in 2006. . In 2011, he was appointed Administrative Judge of the Seventh Judicial District, making him the chief supervisor of all Courts in an eight-county region. He has also been the Presiding Judge of Drug Treatment Courts, a member of the NYS Permanent Judicial Commission on Justice for Children, has served as Chair of the Judicial Commission on Interbranch Relations, Co-Chair of the NYS Juvenile Justice Strategic Planning Advisory Committee (advising the Governor on statewide juvenile justice policy), and as a member of the Office of Court Administration Raise the Age (RTA) Task Force. Judge Doran was selected to serve on the Judiciary Task Force on the Constitution, and the Judicial Commission on Parental Representation, and has also been active as a law professor at the University of Rochester and at Keuka College. He serves as an Adjunct Professor at the former, teaching upper level classes in the Legal Studies, and with the latter in the Adult Studies Criminal Justice Bachelor and Master’s Degree Programs, and also as an Instructor Expert for the Center for Professional Studies and International Programs at Keuka.

Never mind: what’s really important is what he wore as his costume at a law student Halloween Party.

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Two Wins For Law And Ethics Over Ideology

DC RULES_blind justice

Judges are proving less partisan and ideologically driven than the increasingly totalitarian Left had hoped.

1. In Vitolo v. Guzman, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals at Cincinnati ruled last week that the federal government violates the equal protection clause when it considers race or sex in in allocating Wuhan virus relief funds. Following the same track as the earlier case discussed here, the Court agreed that the U.S. Small Business Administration violated the Constitution by giving preference to minority- and women-owned restaurants.

Antonio Vitolo and his wife own a restaurant called Jake’s Bar and Grill. Vitolo is white, his wife is Hispanic, and they each own 50% of the restaurant. Of course, Jake could have gamed the easily manipuated SBA system by just handing his wife the extra 1%. The government requires small businesses to be at least 51% owned by women, veterans or “socially and economically disadvantaged” people to jump to the head of the line, because someone is presumed to be socially disadvantaged if they are a member of a designated racial or ethnic group. A person is considered economically disadvantaged if they are socially disadvantaged, and they face diminished capital and credit opportunities. In such a system, whether the business owner being given preference has actually been disadvantaged doesn’t matter. He or she is presumed to be disadvantaged. This nicely follows the circular logic of Critical Race Theory.

The group preferences are taken into consideration during the first 21 days in which the Small Business Administration awards the pandemic grants to restaurants. After priority applications submitted during that period are processed, the Small Business Administration processes grant requests in the order that they were received. That is, white men come last.

The 6th Circuit majority said Vitolo and his wife are entitled to an injunction forcing the government to grant their application, if approved, before all later-filed applications, and that their color and gender should be irrelevant. The government did not demonstrate a “compelling interest” justifying preferences based on race or sex.

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“My Cousin Vinny” Meets Zoom

vinny

Once again I have to say “I don’t understand this story at all.

If you recall “My Cousin Vinny,” as almost all lawyers do (and fondly), Joe Pesci’s fish-out-of-water defense lawyer annoyed imposing Southern judge Fred Gwynn by first appearing in court wearing a leather jacket, and then showing up in the suit above because it was the only one he could acquire at short notice.

At least he tried.

While Ethics Alarms has taken the unalterable position that when children are forced to attend school via Zoom, what may appear in their homes are not, in fact, “in school,” a lawyer who appears before a judge via Zoom is still, in fact, “in court” and before a judge. Why? Because the judge says so, that’s why. And as Vinnie soon learned, when a judge says “Jump!” the only responsible response is “How high, Your Honor?”

Perhaps a Delaware lawyer named Weisbrot has never seen the movie. He complained to Delaware Vice Chancellor Joseph R. Slights III i ex parte “that [the court] would not consider an application from him because he “was not wearing a tie.” The Vice Chancellor responded, “That is true, as the record reflects.” BUT…

What the record also reflects is that Mr. Weisbrot appeared in court for trial (via Zoom) on Tuesday in either a printed tee-shirt or pajamas (it was difficult to discern).

In other words, “It’s true you weren’t wearing a tie, but a greater problem is THAT YOU WERE WEARING FREAKING PAJAMAS!”

Mr. Wiesbrot responded by channeling his inner (and outer) Vinnie by, in his next appearance via Zoom before the same judge, in something less than the kind of attire he had to know the judge expected:

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Comment Of The Day: “Comment Of The Day: ‘On The Death Of Justice Ginsburg'”

This is a working day for me, as I have to revise perfectly appropriate legal ethics course materials because a low level bureaucrat at a bar association CLE department literally doesn’t understand what she is charged with approving, Nevertheless, I will be writing here about the developing Dead Ruth Bader Ginsburg Ethics Train Wreck, or whatever I end up calling it because passengers are boarding at a rapid rate.

Zoebrain’s Comment of the Day on the post, “Comment Of The Day: On The Death Of Justice Ginsburg”is an ideal way to get that discussion started, and Behold!— Here it is:

McConnell is as right to expedite a hasty appointment of any reasonably acceptable Trump nominee in September 2020 as he was as wrong to deny a hearing to any Obama nominee whatsoever in February 2016.

To do so would reveal blatant foetid dishonesty and utter hypocrisy, but I see no good argument against it, other than the limited time available for a thorough vetting, 45 days vs 270. Doing so less than 70 minutes after RBG’s death was tacky, but fitting for this regime, and arguably such haste is needed.

Former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore? Judicially qualified, would certainly shore up the softening Evangelical support, and, most crucially, would cause Democrats to have conniptions. But not on the current shortlist.

Ivanka Trump? Excellent test of personal loyalty, would embolden personal followers of Trump, would cause Democrats to lose their minds, but would do nothing to encourage Evangelicals, and again, not on the short list. Continue reading