Thanksgiving Week Launch Ethics Warm-Up, 11/19/18: Turkeys

Good Morning.

1. This is weird. The Florida Supreme Court released a long-awaited decision concerning whether a judge’s Facebook friendship with an attorney should be  grounds for disqualification if the attorney is arguing a case before that judge. The 4-3 opinion holds that:

In some circumstances, the relationship between a judge and a litigant, lawyer, or other person involved in a case will be a basis for disqualification of the judge. Particular friendship relationships may present such circumstances requiring disqualification. But our case law clearly establishes that not every relationship characterized as a friendship provides a basis for disqualification. And there is no reason that Facebook “friendships”—which regularly involve strangers—should be singled out and subjected to a per se rule of disqualification. 

I could not disagree more. A friend request from a judge is inherently coercive, and creates pressure on the lawyer to accept. Who wants to tell a judge that he doesn’t want to be his friend? Other bar associations and courts have held that it is improper for judges and lawyers to “friend” each other if there is any chance that the judge will be presiding over the lawyer’s cases, and that is the wiser rule. My own preference would be for judges to stay off social media entirely, except for close friends and family. They can only get in trouble there.

2. And this is much weirder…Apparently an app, ‘Santa Call New 2018,’ briefly available for download at the Amazon Children’s Store, would place a call to “Santa”when kids pressed the ‘call’ button, and Jolly Saint Nick would reply, “Hello there. Can you hear me, children? In five nights, if you’re free, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you.”

Amazon is investigating.

Happy Holidays! Continue reading

Ethics Hero: CNN’s Jake Tapper

tapper-rhodesIt is tragic that it takes bloody murder to raise the press out of its journalism ethics torpor, and force it to ask tough questions of the administration it helped put in power and  has pampered,  pimpeda nd covered for ever since.  Still, progress is progress. CNN’s Jake Tapper, probably the closest thing to an objective journalist in captivity, has obviously had enough of the seven-year pattern of pretending that all Obama policies are working just marvelously thank-you, even as the stench of fakery, dishonesty and incompetence fills the air.

Over the weekend, Tapper was having none of the spin offered by Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes and Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), both sent out by the White House for damage control, after the President’s statement that “ISIS has been contained” was rendered ludicrous by the deaths in Paris.“If this is what ISIS looks like contained, I shudder to think what ISIS looks like uncontained,” Tapper told Rhodes.

Bazinga!

President Obama ended the war on terror, put tepid measures in place in Syria, dismissed ISIS as “the junior varsity, ” and in the aftermath of the Benghazi attack, coordinated a campaign of media disinformation to blame it on a YouTube video rather than admit that Al Qaeda was not “decimated” as he had puffed, all while taking unseemly personal credit for the killing of bin Laden and feeding the public what has been called a “narrative of success.”

Maybe the news media will finally insist that he accept accountability for his inept and feckless terrorism strategies. I doubt it, but at least Tapper gave us a reminder of what unbiased journalism looks like, lest we forget.