Flori-duh Welcomes Gay Marriage

January 5, 2015

It is about time – Flori-duh is finally churning out married same sex couples. All I can say is “welcome to first class citizenship.” (source)


Alan Dershowitz’ Sex Orgies??? (I call bullshit)

January 4, 2015

A woman by the name of Virginia Roberts claims that a convicted sex offender, Jeffery Epstein, “trafficked” her to rich, powerful, and famous people while she was underage. One of those people is Prince Andrew, and another is Alan Dershowitz. (source)

Riiiiight.

I suppose that anything is possible.

But, Dersh had this to say:

“I’m planning to file disbarment charges against the two lawyers who signed this petition without even checking the manifests of airplanes or travel itineraries, et cetera,” he said. “I’m also challenging the young woman and the lawyers to level those charges against me outside of the courtroom, so that I can sue them for defamation…..Finally, I’m challenging the woman to file criminal charges against me because the filing of false criminal charges is a crime.” (source)

Ok, fine, I don’t know what “disbarment charges” are either. But, lets face it, you might start speaking a little imprecisely if you had reporters in your face asking you about this kind of thing.

The lawyers in question are Bradley Edwards and Professor Paul Cassell from the University of Utah.

I respect Dershowitz’ challenge. He knows that the lawyers are immune from a defamation suit under the litigation privilege. They know that too.

Its sorta like Dershowitz saying “lets go fight behind the school, where the teachers won’t break it up as I curb stomp you.”

They claim that this all happened, yet nobody brought a civil claim against any of these rich guys? I wasn’t there. So, maybe this all went down the way they say it did. I, for one, call bullshit.

I’ll update this and eat crow if proven otherwise.

UPDATE: There is at least the allegation that there could be photographic evidence. (source)


Where is Israel?

January 4, 2015

Harper Collins' "special" map.

Harper Collins’ “special” map.

Harper Collins is getting some deserved flak for omitting Israel from its world atlas specifically designed for Middle Eastern markets. (source) The map simply omits Israel, as if it does not exist.

Collins Bartholomew, the subsidiary of HarperCollins that specialises in maps, had told The Tablet that including Israel in the Middle East Atlas would have been “unacceptable” to its customers in the Gulf and that the amendment incorporated “local preferences”. (source)

After international pressure, Harper Collins withdrew the book and is “pulping” the entire edition.

As it should.

I don’t care how anyone feels about Israel. You’re allowed to love, hate, or meh Israel as you choose. But, using textbooks to try and pre-program kids into your pre-existing political position – by actually changing the facts? Wrong. Doing so to bow to political pressure? Dead wrong.

I understand that capitalism requires you to bend your product to the local market conditions – and if the Abu Dhabi board of education (or whatever the hell they call it) wants Israel omitted from your maps, you might have to make a choice between supplying them with books or sticking to your ideals. Lord knows I’ve bent what I thought was right to make a buck from time to time (ask me about the “Buddy The Dog” case one day).

Nevertheless, shame on Harper Collins for not telling these “local preferences” to shove it. More than that, shame on the local “educators” for having such policies in the first place. And, before we get too high and mighty, lets remember that for most of recent history, Texas did the same damn thing. (source)

One commentator made a good statement about the map.

The Map of Israel that my son's school uses.

The Map of Israel that my son’s school uses.

Bishop Declan Lang, chairman of the Bishops’ Conference Department of International Affairs, told The Tablet: “The publication of this atlas will confirm Israel’s belief that there exists a hostility towards their country from parts of the Arab world. It will not help to build up a spirit of trust leading to peaceful co-existence.” (source)

That may be true. But if you look to the right, that’s the map of Israel that my son’s school uses. So… while Harper Collins needs a smack upside the head, perhaps there is a lesson that ought to be taught a little more universally. I really do not see any difference between what Harper Collins did, and what the suppliers to my kid’s school did. They both traded reality and facts for a political view, that someone wants to indoctrinate children to believe.

That is not cool. No matter who does it.


Thank you, Sarah Palin

January 4, 2015

Wow, I would have thought that Michael Palin wrote this, not Sarah.

Aren’t you the same anti-beef screamers blogging hate from your comfy leather office chairs, wrapped in your fashionable leather belts above your kickin’ new leather pumps you bought because your celebrity idols (who sport fur and crocodile purses) grinned in a tabloid wearing the exact same Louboutins exiting sleek cowhide covered limo seats on their way to some liberal fundraiser shindig at some sushi bar that features poor dead smelly roe (that I used to strip from our Bristol Bay-caught fish, and in a Dillingham cannery I packed those castoff fish eggs for you while laughing with co-workers about the suckers paying absurdly high prices to party with the throw away parts of our wild seafood)? I believe you call those discarded funky eggs “caviar”.

What could bring us such delightful Palinism?

Trig Palin and the Palin dog, "Jill Hadassah" (hold on to that for trivia night!)

Trig Palin and the Palin dog, “Jill Hadassah” (hold on to that for trivia night!)

Palin posted a photo of her son, Trig, stepping on the family dog. PETA, hysterical harpy idiots that they are, flipped the fuck out about it. In a statement to Politico, PETA President Ingrid Newkirk said, “it’s odd that anyone — let alone a mother — would find it appropriate to post such a thing, with no apparent sympathy for the dog in the photo.” (source)

Seriously.

I despise Sarah Palin as much as the next sane person. Well, I would imagine that John McCain has stronger feelings about her, but that’s another story. I agree that she should be beaten into dust by the marketplace of ideas – since she has very little, if anything, to sell in that marketplace.

Nevertheless, watching her fight with PETA is sorta like watching two assholes fight in a bar. You ever been in a bar where two assholes, both of whom could use a beat down, wind up fighting with each other? As long as you stay out of the way, everyone wins. They both get a beating of some sorts, and perhaps one or both go to jail. Then you go on with your night, laugh your ass off, drink too much, slump into a cab, get home and laugh your ass off some more. Meanwhile, the assholes get stitches and bail bondsmen in their lives.

PETA is ok with this one.

PETA is ok with this one.

So look, you want to shit on Sarah Palin, get in line. And, the raw materials for it abound. Criticizing her for this shit is absurd. Especially so when PETA’s “woman of the year” for 2009 posted pretty much the exact same photo. (source) I suppose that it could be seen as a little different, since the Elen Degeneres photo wasn’t of something happening in her own house, but I doubt that’s what caused the differential treatment.

Anyhow, PETA shits on Palin, and Palin responds with… lets just read it again, since it is such delicious word salad.

Aren’t you the same anti-beef screamers blogging hate from your comfy leather office chairs, wrapped in your fashionable leather belts above your kickin’ new leather pumps you bought because your celebrity idols (who sport fur and crocodile purses) grinned in a tabloid wearing the exact same Louboutins exiting sleek cowhide covered limo seats on their way to some liberal fundraiser shindig at some sushi bar that features poor dead smelly roe (that I used to strip from our Bristol Bay-caught fish, and in a Dillingham cannery I packed those castoff fish eggs for you while laughing with co-workers about the suckers paying absurdly high prices to party with the throw away parts of our wild seafood)? I believe you call those discarded funky eggs “caviar”.

Yeah… I’m not even going to bother to dissect that one.

I just want to thank Sarah Palin for the laughs. And, I want to remind millions of Americans that they voted for this dipshit.


Time off and the Bar

January 3, 2015

Brian Tannebaum, ethics lawyer to the stars, recently tweeted that he would be ok with a complete shut-down of the legal profession from December 23 to January 2. I thought that sounded like a good idea too.

We have to take all these bullshit CLE hours about recognizing substance abuse. We have rules that we have to “be nice,” even though those simply escalate the number of bar complaints. Meanwhile, the focus of such rules are what? Simply to deal with the stress that law practice can bring.

Tannebaum’s idea sounds like a good start. Why not just have “law vacations.” Periods of time in which you are ethically prohibited from practicing law, unless it is a bona fide emergency (I guess criminal defense lawyers would be slightly fucked).

But, why not take it beyond that? Why not have “law recesses” a few times a year. Not just for Christmas to New Years, but why not one week every quarter? No hearings. No service of documents. No nothing.

While we are at it, why not just adopt an ethical rule of “Lawyers don’t roll on Shabbos”? One day a week where we are ethically prohibited from working.

I don’t know about you, but I’d be a little less inclined to want to get shitfaced or smack some bottom feeder across his face if I had one day a week where I was forced to chill.


Bar Associations, Weed, and Ethics

January 3, 2015

I was the keynote speaker at the US Virgin Islands bar association meeting a few weeks ago. My talk was on online defamation, and a challenge to the USVI to pass an Anti-SLAPP law. But, the conference itself was quite heavy on the discussion of marijuana decriminalization — in particular, the ethics of advising clients on marijuana issues.

The USVI, along with 20 states have decriminalized small amounts of marijuana. In addition, we have medical marijuana in 23 states. (source)

But, as most know, the federal government remains entrenched in its position that marijuana is illegal, dangerous, and scary. Nevertheless, the Department of Justice released a memorandum in October 2009 stating that although medicinal use of marijuana was in violation of federal law, law enforcement officials would not specifically target those “individuals whose actions are in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state laws providing for the medical use of marijuana.” Ogden, David, Investigations and Prosecutions in States Authorizing the Medical Use of Marijuana, THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, (Oct. 19, 2009) (source).

Against this backdrop, we had a discussion in the Virgin Islands as to where the ethical boundaries for lawyers might lie — was it ok to advise clients who wanted to operate marijuana grow operations, dispensaries, and the like — if the state or territory legalized weed, but the feds maintained their position? And, what about lawyers using marijuana? Is that a no-no?

Most states that have legalized marijuana are trending toward letting lawyers give advice to their clients. This usually comes with a caveat that the lawyer has to inform the client that just because they are compliant with state law, the feds are still out there. See, e.g., Ariz. State Bar Op. 11-01 (Feb. 2011); Maine State Bar Op. #199 (July 7, 2010). Both of these early opinions state that when a client is made aware of the possible federal consequences of his or her actions, the attorney has acted ethically in giving advice.

As far as using weed goes, ABA Model Rule 8.4(b), states that it is professional misconduct for a lawyer to “commit a criminal act that reflects adversely on the lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer in other respects.” Colorado says that a lawyer using marijuana does not necessarily violate that rule. See Colorado Formal Opinion 124, “A Lawyer’s Medical Use of Marijuana” (2012). Colorado said that a lawyer’s personal use of medical marijuana standing alone, was permissible. On the other hand, Louisiana (for example) takes the opposite view. See In re Stolzle, 130 So. 3d 801, 802 (La. 2013) (but that lawyer committed other misconduct leading to disbarment).

While we were discussing this, one long-time member of the bar finally exploded. He said “I can not believe what I am hearing here!” His position was that marijuana is illegal under federal law, we are sworn to uphold the law, the federal government is supreme over state or territorial governments, therefore we are behaving unethically if we use marijuana, or if we advise a client beyond telling them “you are breaking the law” in such a circumstance. His central position was that the Bar should work to uphold the law, as it stands, and not as it might wish it were.

And his position is not without merit.

How do you reconcile being an officer of the court with a) violating federal law, or b) advising a client on conduct that clearly violates federal law?

I’m not talking about legal ethics or law here – there are far more competent authors than I who have opined on it. I’m more haunted by this lawyer’s position that the bar should be the instrument of the government. What about justice? What about showing leadership?

Lets consider an extreme, if silly, hypothetical: Lets say that it is the year 2022. President Palin and Vice President Duke sign a law passed by a majority Tea Party Congress that all Americans who refuse to profess their love for Jesus Christ shall be rounded up and forced to live in detention camps, where they will be forced to work in slave labor conditions, where there is a 90% mortality rate. The expected legal challenge comes, and despite the law being declared unconstitutional at the District and Court of Appeals, the Supreme Court gives us a shocker – Chief Justice Scalia, in a 7-4 opinion (Palin also added two seats to the USSC) rules that despite the law being subject to strict scrutiny, it passes muster because there is a compelling governmental interest in a society that follows one religion, the founders would not have found this to be all that weird, and besides, terrorism.(1)

So now we have a seriously fucked up situation.

As they round up the first crop of Jews, Muslims, and Atheists, some lawyers help (illegally) smuggle some dissenters out of the country. Others advise their clients to practice their own religion secretly, and help them to get counterfeit Jesus Cards, so they won’t be sent to the camps.

These lawyers have broken the law, but did they behave unethically? In such a silly hypothetical, it seems pretty obvious what any human being, lawyer or not, should do in that situation. They should resist, and they should assist in breaking that law. No principled person could do otherwise.

Now, isn’t it just a bit beyond crazy to compare marijuana users to concentration camp victims? Sure it is. But, lets look at this issue in a broader context — the war on drugs. What a stupid name, first of all — because it is not a war on drugs at all — it is a war on people who use drugs. When you consider the harm that this silly plant has caused from the beginning of time until the end of this post, I can’t see it coming close to the harm that this “war” has caused.

Before the war on drugs, we had a Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Amendment — all of which were trashed in the name of this “war.” We now have the highest incarceration rate in the world. And, for every New York cop pissing and moaning about De Blasio should instead complain about the fact that they’ve been turned into a militarized occupying army. When that happens, you can expect that someone is going to act like a resistance does — knocking off some of the soldiers occupying your country.

When you consider that, how can anyone say that it is “unethical” to be part of the resistance against America’s absurd, unjust, and self-destructive war against its own people?

I am not saying that lawyers should just go ahead and break any law they want to. Not at all. This is not about individual lawyers — it is about the Bar taking a more active role in deciding, for itself, what laws are “ethical” and “unethical.” We still may be bound by the government to obey certain laws, but the Bar has no compulsion to discipline lawyers who declare their resistance to them. The Bar has no obligation to blindly support the laws that Congress passes.

Who better to judge a law than the Bar? I’m not suggesting that the Bar should have veto power. In fact, its leadership is just one minor baby step beyond being merely symbolic. Nevertheless, why should it not engage in such quasi-symbolism? Why not take a stand on laws that are truly irrational and/or harmful, or are themselves, unethical? Why not express will where politicians lack it? I find nothing wrong with a lawyer being arrested for having 10 pounds of pot in his trunk, but the Bar stating that it will not discipline him, since he has done nothing unethical. Or, hell, if the Bar decides that the marijuana laws are worthy of being upheld, then deal with it or turn in your law license, Smokey McDopehead. But take a fuckin’ stand.

Maybe it is time that the Bar shows this important leadership. Show the leadership to say that this chickenshit war on the people might be the government’s prerogative, and we might have to operate in a country where a few pricks can conduct a war on the people for god-knows-why. But, I think it would be a beautiful day when a lawyer goes to jail for possession of marijuana, meanwhile, the Bar says “we decline to discipline you, because the fuckers who arrested you are the unethical ones — not you.”

Ain’t gonna happen… but a man can dream.

__________________

(1) Don’t laugh. In Timmons v. Twin Cities Area New Party, 520 U.S. 351, 367 (U.S. 1997) Rehnquist authored an opinion banning “fusion parties,” despite their clear First Amendment protection on the grounds that protecting the two-party system from competition was a compelling state interest. “The Constitution permits the Minnesota Legislature to decide that political stability is best served through a healthy two-party system.” Id. In that opinion, he cited Rutan v. Republican Party of Ill., 497 U.S. 62, 107 (1990) (SCALIA, J., dissenting) (“The stabilizing effects of such a [two-party] system are obvious”).


Rest in Slack, Brother

December 30, 2014

In honor of Cliff Heller, who merged with the infinite on this day in 2006, the Legal Satyricon flag is lowered to half mast and there will be no posts today. If you happen to find yourself with a bottle of tequila nearby, I would like to invite you to take a shot (no salt) in his honor. If you have none, Makers’ Mark will do.

Blue skies Bueno Rodriguez.

Blue Skies and Rest in Slack

Blue Skies and Rest in Slack


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