17 February 2021

Link Sausages Have Consequences

Just like everything else.

  • Sauce for goose, meet sauce for gander. And sadly, that gender-selective cliché is probably less offensive — especially in this context, especially regarding these… individuals — than the more-usual "pot calling the kettle black" (if only because almost none of these individuals is Black… not to mention that cast iron isn't "naturally" black anyway).

    Let's just say that a little schadenfreude pie with lunch seems appropriate. And put away the gustatory metaphors and illustrations for the rest of the day.

  • Apparently, racism and racist misuse of power to indirectly assault someone of another race has a well-established diversion program to keep teh racists out of jail. On the one hand, a diversion program of general applicability — for those with little or no record of prior legal difficulty (which still leaves open the question of why these particular individuals have little or no such record) — is probably perfectly appropriate given the restricted capabilities of the justice system, especially for "crimes" that rise more to the level of "attempt" (however despicable) than assault. We'll leave aside for the moment pondering equity and equality of access to those diversion programs, particularly the parallel ones in school systems.

    On the other hand, the lawyer's threats demonstrate that at least someone involved on Ms Cooper's side of the dispute doesn't bloody get it. Part of actually learning what was "wrong" — as Ms Cooper appears to have pled; as the court appears to have accepted, with nothing inconsistent then in front of that court — is accepting that there are nonjudicial consequences for… for… being a dick. And suing because one doesn't want to accept those nonjudicial consequences is precisely the opposite of what Ms Cooper should have learned from her court-ordered diversion program's therapy sessions. The vague threats of potential legal action, instead, reflect something that a hypothetical Black young man couldn't make if diverted due to threatening to call the cops on dirty immigrants — that is, they reflect the entitlement and attitude that got Amy Cooper into trouble in the first place. Perhaps it's Mr Barnes who needs those therapy sessions…

  • …that might very well parallel those at issue regarding the "defense" presented at the recent "political theatre" in the Senate. And, for that matter, outside of the Senate, both in the run-up to and fallout after.

    Oops. Wait a minute. Mr Barnes is a member of the New York bar… so unless he gets caught bribing a public official, driving while under the influence for the eleventh time, or embezzling, there will be no consequences. And the same goes for Drumpf's lawyers as to other jurisdictions. It appears, on all evidence, that perverting the course of justice and undermining public confidence in the honesty and substance of the legal system in particular and government as a whole is not an ethics violation sufficient to warrant even suspension, let alone disbarment. Right, Ms Goodling and colleagues (she did not act alone, and a public reprimand (PDF) seems somehow inadequate… even if she was/is a white blonde woman with significant political connections)?

    This is the fundamental problem with regulation of lawyers. Too often — indeed, almost always in practice — that regulation is about protecting current trade practitioners and their revenue streams far more than it is about its purpose (either the stated "protection of the public" purpose or the necessary justification of enabling the public to prevent and, when necessary, resolve disputes without bloodshed).

    The legal profession’s relative autonomy carries with it special responsibilities of self-government. The profession has a responsibility to assure that its regulations are conceived in the public interest and not in furtherance of parochial or self-interested concerns of the bar. Every lawyer is responsible for observance of the Rules of Professional Conduct. A lawyer should also aid in securing their observance by other lawyers. Neglect of these responsibilities compromises the independence of the profession and the public interest which it serves.

    R. Prof. Cond. Preamble ¶ 12. It has the trappings of professionalism without adequate use of either corrective programs like that offered to Amy Cooper (except if "substance abuse" is determined to be the principle cause of failures) or exclusion, let alone reform of training programs or entry gatekeeping. The fundamental problem is that those who established, and enforce, the rules tend to have little or no idea of what those most likely to run close to their boundaries without disregard for them face, and put no emphasis on either prevention or cure of the individual — only the trade's reputation. And that's not a professional attitude. On all evidence: Fail.

  • Which isn't quite as bad as not-quite-two-and-a-half-centuries of tradition unsullied by any hint of progress, and what that means for selection of the organization's leaders. It's been oft said — with more than a hint of truth — that militaries are always training for and readying to fight the last war. It's exponentially worse regarding how they select and train their leadership, which is usually not just one but three to five wars behind (Exhibit A: Almost all of the top leaders in the US military during Vietnam had been selected and trained before Truman desegregated the military — during the era of the Tuskegee Airmen, of the 442d Infantry; given that, do the race-relations problems in the field begin to seem just a little bit predictable?).

    But at least there's some talk about potential change. Not so much in the legal profession, which has refused to acknowledge (let alone confront) the "credential problem," the "seniority problem," the "conflict of interest problem"…