Amazing Tales Of “The King’s Pass”: The Johnny Manziel Saga

To refresh your memory, from the Ethics Alarms Rationalizations list:Ethics Alarms Rationalizations list:

11. The King’s Pass, The Star Syndrome, or “What Will We Do Without Him?”

One will often hear unethical behavior excused because the person involved is so important, so accomplished, and has done such great things for so many people that we should look the other way, just this once. This is a terribly dangerous mindset, because celebrities and powerful public figures come to depend on it. Their achievements, in their own minds and those of their supporters and fans, have earned them a more lenient ethical standard. This pass for bad behavior is as insidious as it is pervasive, and should be recognized and rejected whenever it raises its slimy head.  In fact, the more respectable and accomplished an individual is, the more damage he or she can do through unethical conduct, because such individuals engender great trust. Thus the corrupting influence on the individual of The King’s Pass leads to the corruption of others.

There was good news on the King’s Pass front, when reports emerged that the Philadelphia Philllies decided to spend their “crazy money” on free agent outfielder Bryce Harper rather than free agent infielder Manny Machado because of Machado’s unsportsmanlike conduct during the recent post-season and his excusing his loafing to first  in a game by saying that he “wasn’t Johnny Hustle.” Since Harper’s ridiculous contract from Philly ended up being 30 million dollars more than Machado’s ridiculous contract with the San Diego Padres,  one could conclude that Machado ‘s conduct, which would get a lesser player benched, demoted, traded for a bag of peanuts or released, at least cost the jerk 30 million dollars.

Good.

But with the King’s Pass, such episodes are rare. Yesterday we learned that alleged football star quarterback—his nickname is “Johnny Football”—Johnny Manzeil was released from the Canadian Football League. The CFL wouldn’t give details, saying only he had “contravened the agreement which made him ineligible to play in the league,” but since it was known that the agreement included weekly therapy appointments, mandatory doctor visits and monthly Lithium tests, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out what happened: Johnny happened. Here’s a summary of Manziel’s “controversies” from Wikipedia:

June 2012 arrest

On June 29, 2012—before he was chosen as Texas A&M’s starting quarterback and before his first college game—Manziel was arrested and charged with three misdemeanors—disorderly conduct, failure to produce identification, and possession of a fictitious driver’s license. These charges stemmed from a late-night fight…In July 2013, he pleaded guilty to failure to produce identification, and the other two charges were dismissed.

…After the incident, Manziel eventually regained the favor of his team and head coach…and was named the starting quarterback… When reporters asked about the incident during his first press conference on November 27, Manziel stated that he had learned from the mistake and “had to make a lot of changes in [his] life.”[146][147]

2013 offseason

During the 2013 offseason at Texas A&M, Manziel drew significant media attention over his behavior off the field. Notable incidents include his early departure from the Manning Passing Academy after allegedly oversleeping, tweeting that he “can’t wait to leave College Station” after receiving a parking ticket, and getting kicked out of a fraternity party…ESPN reported that the NCAA was investigating whether Manziel accepted payments for autographs that he had signed in January 2013. The NCAA did not find any evidence that Manziel accepted money for the autographs, but reached an agreement with Texas A&M to suspend him for the first half of the season opener against Rice University, due to an “inadvertent violation” of NCAA rules.

2015 offseason

On February 4, Manziel entered a treatment program for unspecified reasons. On May 30, Manziel was involved in an incident with a heckler at a   golf tournament. The heckler had been continually asking for an autograph, to the point that Manziel became fed up and threw a water bottle at the man. The water bottle missed the heckler. Security and police were called, but no charges were filed.

2015 season

Manziel was pulled over by a policeman after fighting in his car with his then girlfriend, Colleen Crowley. Although no charges were made, Manziel admitted to having had some alcoholic drinks earlier that afternoon…On November 24, a week after Manziel was announced as the NFL C;eveland Browns’ starter for the remainder of the season, head coach Mike Pettine demoted Manziel to third string after a video of him partying surfaced on the Internet….It was later revealed Manziel reportedly lied about the video… Manziel was seen at a Las Vegas casino the night before the Browns played their final game of the 2015 season. Manziel was scratched from the final game because of a concussion. …The next day, Manziel failed to report to the Browns on Sunday morning when he was supposed to report to the team medic, which all players with concussions are supposed to do.

2016

On January 6, 2016, Manziel’s marketing agency, LRMR, announced that it would no longer work with Manziel. Manziel’s agent, Erik Burkhardt, also announced that he would no longer represent Manziel. On February 5, 2016, the Dallas Police Department announced that they were opening a criminal investigation with a claim of domestic violence involving his ex-girlfriend, Colleen Crowley. Dallas police had originally closed the case, but re-opened it with allegations stemming from an altercation on January 30, 2016, at a downtown Dallas hotel. According to Crowley, Manziel forced her into a car, pulled her by the hair, and threatened to kill both her and himself. On April 24, Manziel was indicted by a Dallas grand jury on misdemeanor assault charges for the incident.

On April 19, 2016, after just two months of representing him, agent Drew Rosenhaus terminated Manziel as a client, marking the first time in Rosenhaus’ 27-year career he fired an NFL player.On the same day, Nike ended its sponsorship with Manziel.[166]

On June 24, 2016, Manziel’s attorney, Bob Hinton, accidentally sent a lengthy text message to the AP relating to Manziel’s defense in his domestic violence case. In the message, Hinton expressed concerns about Manziel’s ability to stay clean, saying that he was given a receipt that suggests Manziel spent around $1,000 at The Gas Pipe, a drug paraphernalia store. On the same day, Manziel’s father, Paul, told ESPN: “He’s a druggie. It’s not a secret that he’s a druggie. Hopefully, he doesn’t die before he comes to his senses. I mean, I hate to say it, but I hope he goes to jail. I mean, that would be the best place for him. I’m doing my job, and I’m going to move on. If I have to bury him, I’ll bury him.”

On June 30, 2016, he was suspended for the first four games of the 2016 season for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. On December 2, 2016, Manziel and prosecutors finalized a plea agreement in which Manziel agreed to undergo counseling and have his conduct monitored by prosecutors for up to a year or face prosecution.

Apparently Wikipedia got tired of updating Johnny’s page. Now kicked out of the NFL and the CFL, a new pro league is thinking about signing Johnny Football, and here is how USA Today reported it, in part: here is how USA Today reported it, in part:

It’s no surprise Johnny Manziel’s sudden availability was cause for great celebration around the AAF (Alliance of American Football). Johnny Football would be the ultimate addition for the upstart league….Before anybody whips out a contract and a pen, however, be warned: You don’t know who you’re getting. Will it be Johnny Manziel, who last summer spoke earnestly of prioritizing his mental health and the costly lessons he’d learned from when he didn’t? Or will it be Johnny Football, whose boozed-up escapades and immaturity sent him crashing out of the NFL two years after he was a first-round pick?

Gee, I think it will be Johnny Manziel, certified asshole, who has been behaving the same way since college, but teams keep signing him and giving him money, sending the rest of the team, football, kids and the world that if you have talent, you can get away with almost anything, or at least get an endless number of “second chances.”

The other news? Manziel’s wife was accused of cheating in a half-marathon, and lying about her time.

Come on, AAF, sign him up! What are you waiting for?

Flipping Off The President, And Proud Of It (With A Poll!)

Remember Julie Briskman? She flipped off the President’s motorcade in  November, and was so proud of that eloquent statement that she posted a photo of her gesture on Facebook. He company, A government contractor, promptly fired her. I wrote at the time,

Flipping a middle figure to the President’s motorcade is protected speech. Flipping said finger to the President when one works for a company dependent on government contracts and plastering photos of one doing this on social media is not what I would call wise, and Julie Briskman should have reasonably expected her employers to admonish her to keep the company’s public image in mind the next time she was tempted to bite the hand that feeds it. Akima LLC, however, a Virginia-based company, fired her.

They have every right to do this, but it was a gross and cruel over-reaction. Worse, the company wasn’t even honest about its rationale,telling her that company policy forbade an employee having  anything ‘lewd’ or ‘obscene’ on your social media. Sure. “The finger” is undeniably rude. Obscene it’s not.

But Julie doesn’t read Ethics Alarms (obviously!), and sued for wrongful termination. Last week, Virginia judge Penney Azcarate judge dismissed Briskman’s wrongful termination claim. Her lawyers had claimed that Briskman’s employers violated public policy by forcing her resignation.

As I said, I don’t think the company was particularly fair to Briskman, who is young and like most of the resistance, lacks judgment and proportion. I doubt that anyone would take it out on her employers that they employed a rude and immature jerk as a marketing analyst. It need not have fired her. Still, Virginia is an employment at will state where you can be fired for having an obnoxious laugh. As Ethics Alarms has held here frequently regarding professors who post racist rants on social media and episodes like that of Adam Smith, the so-called Chick-Fil-A Video Vigilante who verbally abused a Chick-Fil-A employee and posted the video of him doing so, companies have every right to regard an employee whose public behavior embarrasses their employers as a liability, and to treat them as such. It isn’t kind, and it isn’t compassionate, but as I wrote about Smith,

“I can’t blame anyone who doesn’t want to be represented by a man whose judgment was this wretched and who is best known for bullying an innocent minimum wage employee because he didn’t like her boss’s take on gay marriage. Actions have consequences, and while the cumulative effects of the foolish and damning video have been excessive, no individual component of it is. Someone should be kind, obey the Golden Rule and give Smith a shot at redemption, but no one individual is ethically obligated to do so. Smith’s sad fate, which extends to his family, is still his own doing, and he alone is accountable.”

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 10/18/2017: Welcome To My World! Special Legal Follies Edition

Good Morning!

1  Oh, let’s begin the day with Roy Moore, the former Alabama judge and present wacko whom Alabama Republicans voted to represent the GOP in the 2018 U.S. Senate election, thus proving that there are a lot of deplorables in the state. As was completely predictable given his record, Moore recently told his drooling followers (after being introduced by Abraham Hamilton, Alexander Lincoln being unavailable),

“Somebody should be talking to the Supreme Court of the United States and say, ‘What gives them a right to declare that two men can get married?. . . Tell the Congress: Impeach these justices that put themselves above the Constitution. They’re judicial supremists and they should be taken off the bench.”

Comments Jonathan Turley,

So Moore believes that he should not have been removed from the bench for putting his personal religious beliefs above the Constitution, but justices should be removed if they interpretation the Constitution in a way that contradicts his religious beliefs.  This, he insisted, would ‘solve the problem….such a view would violate not just fundamental principles of judicial review but it would violate the impeachment clause.  As the last lead counsel in a judicial impeachment case (in defense of Judge Thomas Porteous), Moore’s view is deeply troubling.  As I have previously written, the Good Behavior Clause of Article III was designed to protect the independence of the judiciary and insulate it from political pressures.  It was meant as a guarantee of life tenure against precisely the type of threat that Moore is endorsing. 

But it’s pointless to make genuine legal and historical arguments against someone like Moore. He’s a theocrat, a fanatic, a bigot and a demagogue. The Republican Party should endorse his opposition and campaign against Moore. This fiasco is their fault, and someone like Moore should be kept out Congress at all costs.

2. Now to someone who is, incredible as it seems, somewhat less ridiculous, this gentleman, Christopher Wilson…

 

No, that’s not a botched tattoo on his forehead: the blurry words are “fuck” and “sluts”, making the whole, eloquent message, “I’m a porn star. I fuck teen sluts.” This roughly translates into  “Look at me! I’m an idiot!”  The newspapers that refused to print the blurred words (the police had the mugshot altered) that are essential to the story, meanwhile, are telling us, “We don’t understand our profession.” The story is incomprehensible if the actual words aren’t clear, literally or figuratively.  Fox News and the NY Post, for example, say, “The Cincinnati man has the words “I’m a pornstar” tattooed on his forehead” and “another vulgar message” tattooed below.” Since the issue is whether the message on his FACE is going to prejudice the jury in his trial for sexual assault, this is juvenile coverage omitting key information to avoid “giving offense.”

Ethics Alarms to the news media: Grow up.

Turley (again…he loves the tattoo stories) writes,

“The court will be left with a question of whether the tattoo is too prejudicial or whether it is unavoidable as a personal choice of the defendant….Yet, these tattoos contain an admission to the crime at issue in the trial.  In the end, a judge could legitimately conclude that this falls into the category as bad choices bringing even worse consequences.”

What? First, the defendant is not charged with fucking teen sluts while acting as a porn star. That conduct could well be consensual and legal.  Turley is also wrong that the judge could “legitimately” allow the jury to see his message. In both cases involving a defendant’s prejudicial tattoos, the judges agreed that they had to be made invisible, in one case using make-up… Continue reading

The Legal Profession Appears To Have A Serious Character Standards Problem…

I refer you, for context, to the recent post about Shon Hopwood, Georgetown Law Center’s former bank-robber, former federal prisoner professor, who was welcomed into membership in the D.C. bar…like me.

Now comes word that Tarra Simmons, a third-year law student, convicted felon and former drug addict, who in December won a Skadden Fellowship to help people recently released from prison, was told by the Washington State Bar Association that she did not possess the character to make her a trustworthy lawyer.

Tarra was a magna cum laude law school graduate, and co-chairs Washington’s Statewide Re-Entry Council.  She recently received a gubernatorial appointment to the state’s Public Defense Advisory Committee, and was selected by the dean of Seattle University School of Law to receive the school’s dean’s medal this year.

Nevertheless, the character and fitness board’s vote against Simmons was not even close, at 6-3.

A registered nurse for 11 years, Simmons became addicted to prescription drugs and methamphetamine after her father died, as she self-medicated for depression. In 2011, she was charged with felony theft, drug possession and gun possession, pleaded guilty, served 20 months in state prison. She says she  wants to assist former justice-involved individuals, as  a lawyer who has lived their experience, so they “can overcome barriers and rejoin society.”

But Tarra cannot cannot take the Washington Bar examination without getting a positive  character and fitness recommendation, and that looks unlikely. She’s appealing to the Washington Supreme Court, but traditionally that forum is tougher in assessing the  character and fitness of  potential admittees.

I think her course now is obvious: move to the District of Columbia. The bar there will surely see no reason to doubt her character.

After all, it’s not like she robbed a bank.

__________________________

Pointer: ABA Journal

Ethics Quiz: The Bank Robber Professor

A few weeks ago the Washington Post published the unusual story of  Shon Hopwood, a member of the D.C. Bar and  a tenure-track faculty member at the Georgetown University Law Center. He spent 11 years in federal prison for robbing banks n Nebraska—that’s banks, plural—became a jailhouse “lawyer,” got  a scholarship to law school, was somehow approved as meeting the character provisions required for bar membership, and now amuses his Georgetown law students with tales about how when he played basketball in federal prison, he had to carry a shank in case his team started to lose.

You should read his story, which I’m sure will enrich Hopwood in  a movie deal, if it hasn’t already, but you shouldn’t have to read it before you answer today’s Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz:

Should a convicted bank robber be teaching law students?

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Ethics Quiz: The “420” Tattoo And GoFundMe Ethics

Tattoo 420

Tabitha West, of Fulton, New York, created a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for a worthy cause: paying for her to get a giant woman  “420” tattoo removed from her forehead. “420” apparently means “I’m a pot head.” Some madman tied her down and defaced her. Wait, no scratch that. She paid to have someone but the big, ugly, stupid tattoo there. Now she finds that having a tattoo on her face that proclaims her love of illegal drug use is an impediment to employment. Huh. Boy, knock me over with a feather: who could have foreseen that?

So, broke and desperate, Tabitha—did I mention that she is an imbecile? Did I need to?—is begging for kind and generous people to undo what she did.

Her message on the GoFundMe page, seeking a goal of  $800, reads:

“I am wanti,g $ to get that tattoo off my for head I want to have a better start out in life and have a second chance at life please help me I was young n dumb when I got that I’m older one looking for a job can’t get out and people call me a druggie every day of my life and being called 420 is not nice and I almost killed my self over it. … can’t stand to look at my face anymore. .save a life save me..invest in me and I will show you I can be better with my life. ..thank you.”

We can all see from that eloquent appeal that Tabitha is a dummy no longer, and thus a superb investment.

Surprisngly, some critics demur. Shawn Morse, for example, wrote in response to the appeal:

“It’s people like you that keep my (sick) girl from getting help. My daughter has three brain tumors, cerebral palsy, neurofibromatosis, an optic glioma, & a feeding tube. My daughter’s GoFundMe keeps getting passed over for things like this. There are too many people begging for money for their bad decisions in their life.”

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the day is…

Is it unethical for Tabitha to seek help on GoFundMe, and for donors to give her money?

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Ethics Quiz: What’s Fair Punishment For The Chick-Fil-A Video Vigilante?

orestes

I previously wrote about Adam M. Smith, the ex-CFO of  a Tucson medical supplies manufacturer who filmed himself dressing down a Chick-fil-A drive-in employee and placed the video on YouTube. I said in part…

“He’s a vile bully and a jerk, who thinks it appropriate to embarrass and abuse an innocent employee of a restaurant because he happens not to agree with the politics and moral positions of the company’s owner…The video served to alert millions to beware of this rude, rabid and self-righteous champion of gay rights, who equates faith-based advocacy for the current law of the United States of America with “hate.”

I was more accurate than I knew. Now we learn that since that August, 2012 fiasco which cost him his job, Mr. Smith has fallen on hard times. His self-posted indictment of his own character has poisoned his reputation and career. When he found a new job, he was later fired for not alerting his employers about the incident. When he has raised the video to potential employers, they have declined to hire him. Where he was once earning a six-figure salary, had $1 million in stock options, and lived in a stylish home, he now lives in an RV with his wife and four children, and is existing on public assistance.

It all sounds like the plot of an Adam Sandler movie.

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz today is…

Is Adam M. Smith the victim of excessive social media punishment for one ill-considered act?

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