Required Reading on Lawyer Mindfulness

Your task for today is to read two posts, written yesterday by Mark Bennett. Everything you need to know about being mindful as a lawyer is contained in these two relatively short pieces.

They are provided at no cost to you.

Just don’t expect to cull excuses from his words.

The first identifies the problem.

The second provides a solution.

My goal here is to provide a worthy addendum to his thoughts.

I found one.

Here it is:

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Can an Address Book Tell a Story?

While I find technology and digital databases to be an exceedingly useful tool, I do miss the art created through the judicious use of analog means and methods.

A few years ago, I transferred my address book to digital. Today, I’m wondering if that was the best decision for me.

So…

Watch this at least twice.

The first time, pay attention to the main event, Gay Talese’s address book.

On the second, make note of his (characteristically) meticulously-tailored suit.

BREAKING NEWS: I’m not his lawyer anymore. (UPDATED)

We criminal-defense lawyers often do unpopular things. Occasionally, we make a few people happy, but we always piss someone off in the process. It goes with the territory. We are vilified in our efforts to protect our clients’ rights and zealously defend them. If a criminal-defense attorney can’t handle this, they should quit. The job is simultaneously lonely, frightening, frustrating, and rewarding. Not everyone is cut out to do this type of work.

Here are a few rules that help to frame this reasoning:

1. Criminal-defense lawyers are unpopular to most. We must accept this.

2. Some cases are high-profile immediately as they become cases. Some fester into high-profileness. Usually, this enhances our unpopularity, and that is nothing short of uncomfortable. We must deal with this and focus on doing what we need to do to zealously represent our clients. It may happen to us. It may never happen to us. Whether it happens is largely a crapshoot.

3. In every representation, someone will hate us and wish unmentionable things upon us and our families. Again, we must deal with it.

4. If we must withdraw from a case for any reason, we should remain publicly silent about the nature of representation. Forever. Why? Because we still owe a duty of loyalty and confidentiality based on prior representation. It doesn’t matter whether our experiences are good or bad. We shut up. Violating this constitutes Attorney Dipshittery in the First Degree. Aggravating factor: disparaging (even in a veiled manner) the now-former client on Facebook and/or Twitter. A press release to clarify your newfound non-representation and veiled condemnation is particularly egregious and constitutes Capital Dipshittery.

5. Most of the time, the evidence is overwhelmingly not in our favor. We just have to deal with it and try the best possible case.

If you can’t handle those 5 things, you should never become a criminal-defense attorney. Never. Ever.

Why am I writing this? Because of the “Best Law Firm in Charleston.”

UPDATE, 2:45PM: Rule #4 is amended to include giving an interview to the Daily Beast as an aggravating condition necessitating elevation to Interstellar Capital Dipshittery. Of course, all of this is just my opinion, as I’ve already received feedback from others who seem to believe that this lawyer’s conduct since dumping his client is perfectly hunky-dory.

Screenshot 2015-04-08 11.04.12

Screencap for archive and instructional purposes only.

Screencap for archive and instructional purposes only.

Screencap for archive and instructional purposes only.

Azimuth Check: Lawyer or Lawyer*

It’s been a while. I know. Such is life when you are maintaining a practice whilst packing house and home and moving to a new place. At one point, I decided to abandon Unwashed Advocate. I do this once a year, mostly during summer months. This decision is celebrated by me. It sure feels good to tell your blawg to go to hell.Compass

Then, I return.

After writing brief after brief, appeal after appeal, it is nice to write something that contains your voice. Here, I don’t worry about using passive voice or botching citations. That’s nice.

So, what’ve I been thinking of this summer? Let’s check my direction and see…

Lawyer or Lawyer*

I love talking to other lawyers. I hate talking to other lawyers.

During one of those conversations where, while listening to the other lawyer drone on and on about what she thinks about the legal profession and other lawyers and how other women dress in court and contemplating my suicide plans if she doesn’t soon execute a Kopfian STFU…

Anyway…

She mentioned a particular legal case and remarked “I could never handle cases like that.”

“Huh?” I intelligently replied.

“I SAID I could never do cases like that.”

“Oh, so you’re an asterisk lawyer.”

“What did you just call me?” she retorted.

“I SAID you are an asterisk lawyer. You’re a lawyer, but only when the case or conflict supports and strokes your delicate sensibilities.”

“Are you saying…?”

“Yep,” I cut in, “deal with it. It’s just the type of lawyer you are.”

Knowing me, she got over it quickly, but it reminded me of something I’ve noticed for the last 10ish years.

There are a lot of asterisk lawyers out there.

First, a definition. An asterisk lawyer is a lawyer who is willing to zealously represent some. However, they are completely incapable of representing others.

Here are examples of lawyers*.

“I could never represent a man accused of sexual assault.”

“I could never represent big business.”

“I could never represent a terrorist.”

“I could never take a case representing the tobacco industry.”

“I could never prosecute…”

“I could never defend THOSE people…”

Do not confuse this with the following, which is not a lawyer*.

“I limit my practice to only scrotum husbandry cases.”

That last example is merely someone who limits their practice in order to be very good at one niche. That isn’t saying that they are flatly incapable of representing a particular side, client, or subject.

Lawyers* should be forthcoming about their limitations. Hence, the “*.” At the bottom of their bio, there should be the caveat that quantifies the *, like:

*Except men accused of sexual assault. They should all be emasculated once charges are filed.

*Except terrorists, who should be summarily executed.

*Except big businesses, who are just looking to screw the little guy. Having said that, I can’t wait to upgrade my iPhone and trade-up for the newest, loaded GM vehicle.

*Except the tobacco industry, because cigarettes kill, and that makes me sad and tearful.

Just as I don’t appreciate passionate lawyers, I similarly do not appreciate lawyers*.

A while ago, I started a case with a new co-counsel. They were relatively new to the legal profession but were generally enthusiastic about learning and perfecting the craft. The conversation started something like this:

“Eric, what part of the defense do you want me to work on?”

“None,” I replied.

“None?”

“I want you to focus on prosecuting the case,” I stated.

Confused, they confirmed “You want me to prosecute the case?”

“Yep, and I want you to be flawless.”

Through the ensuing conversation, I explained myself. I wanted them to determine the most dangerous, horrible, loathsome, and damning things that could be done to us by the opposition and play the role throughout our preparations. Without that, our case was just flapping around aimlessly. I concluded the conversation as follows:

“And, when you do it, I want you to love it.”

I love what I do. Really. However, I could prosecute. I could represent a big, nasty, unfeeling, odious corporation. I could represent a nonprofit, and I could represent a party seeking to destroy a nonprofit. I would take on a client who committed (allegedly, of course) horrible, loathsome acts that would shock the conscience of the average person.

Our job as lawyers is to advocate for a particular perspective as part of an adversarial system. We don’t have to accept the perspective of our client into our own hearts. In fact, it is probably best that we not accept it. We fight for the case we are given, not the case that matches our delicate sensibilities. A lawyer can represent any client in any matter under any conditions. That’s what we are trained to do.

That’s what I want to see in a lawyer. That’s what I want to hire. That’s what I want as a co-counsel.

Everyone else is just a lawyer*.

Dunkin Donuts in the Afternoon

A few habits really say something about a person. Here are two examples.

Example 1: A person who drinks bourbon in the morning.

Example 2: A person who eats donuts after 2PM.

Today, I received an email saying that I could get a sweet discount on donuts after 2PM. Therefore, I plan to be one of those mentioned in the second example.

Senior Skip Day

If you grew-up like me, it was tradition for the high school senior class to take a “senior skip day” prior to graduation. Tomorrow is #63’s day.

In due course, he asked that I inform the school that he is “sick.” Well, I’m certainly not going to lie for him. After all, I’m an officer of the court. My integrity is vitally important to my professional status.

So, I was honest. See for yourself.

__________________________________________

Dear Dr. (Principal):

My son will not be attending school today. He is mentally unable to perform to the minimum standards expected of members of the student body. He also has the sniffles, or something.

I started to type that he has the clap, but then he got all huffy and told me to delete it. So I did. Now that he is 18, such jokes are no longer as taboo as they were when he was at the tender age of 17, but I digress.

You see, my son is a millennial–also referred-to as Generation Y. In business and professional circles, they are widely regarded as the most worthless and self-entitled generation to inhabit the earth since Adam and Eve got weird about fruit. They’ve devised a technique for avoiding work and effort. They call it a “mental health day,” and it is widely used to confuse supervisors into believing that an absence is medically necessary. Knowing this, I think the most accurate way to describe today’s absence may be to use the GenY “mental health day” terminology.

Then again, it may be easier for your record-keeping to just call it the sniffles.

Either way works for me. All I ask is that he please be excused due to his “illness.” Believe me, it is in the best interests of your institution that he not attend today.

Please share this with his teachers, as I know they will be extremely concerned about his wellbeing.

Yours,

Eric

From Video to Charge Sheet: A Cautionary Tale

Suppose you are absent without authorization from the Army. That’s a military crime, punishable by a healthy stay in prison and a punitive discharge, depending on the severity and particular form of the absence.

Let’s review a few helpful hints in your situation:

(NOTE: Don’t rely upon this advice. They are general helpful hints and are a poor substitute for advice given by a lawyer who knows and understands your specific case. If you’re really in this situation, call a military lawyer as soon as possible. Start with your branch’s trial defense service.)

  • Staying gone for, say, 7 or 8 years, is a bad thing.
  • Making statements about the absence will not help.
  • Videotaping those statements really will not help.
  • Making up a story about multiple combat deployments and self-sacrifice when you served for only a few months (and all but a few days of it was in basic/initial training) and having a local news outlet put it on video constitutes thermonuclear self-destruction.

Knowing this, let’s see what’s up over at The News Tribune out of Tacoma, Washington.

A one-time Fort Lewis soldier who trumped up his military experience in a TV interview last year is facing time in prison on charges that he deserted his unit and falsely claimed to be a combat veteran.

Kevin Shakely of Sacramento, Calif., allegedly evaded law enforcement agencies for seven years, once reportedly slipping through their grasp at SeaTac Airport.

When Army police started raising pressure on him in August, Shakely, 28, contacted Sacramento’s KTXL Fox 40 News and claimed he was an honorably discharged Iraq and Afghanistan veteran being harassed by the Army.

“This is not how you treat somebody that went through what I had to go through and made the sacrifices I had to make,” he told KTXL.

If the military is harassing a combat veteran who was honorably discharged, that’s a bad thing. Let’s read a bit further.

Shakely in fact spent less than six months in uniform before deserting. Army records show he completed his initial training and spent just six days at his first duty station – Fort Lewis, before its reorganization as Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

Well, that’s not helpful. Neither is the video. (You must click on the link because I can’t get it to embed here.)

This individual’s court-martial is already scheduled. From what the article implies, he agreed to plead guilty to some or all of the charges in exchange for a limit on the sentence.

Why am I talking about this story? Well, a while back, I talked about the fact that veterans are pretty good at naming and shaming those who tout false military service. The veterans over at This Ain’t Hell were all over this case, with posts here and here. If you click around, you’ll see that they use service record requests to debunk claims made by questionable individuals. Just one example of what happens when determined and capable veterans can do to self-police those who claim something they are not. Particularly illuminating is their stolen valor page.

 

Fishing For Cops – Tom Mabe

While accepting an award yesterday from the local chamber of commerce, #63 had the privilege to meet Tom Mabe. For those of you who don’t know, he made a name for himself as a prankster, starting his career by torturing telemarketers.

I know everyone who reads this blog probably already saw this, but it’s worth another gander, just for the heck of it. It is especially good for those feeling a bit frustrated with law enforcement.

Jesus Went UA

We first showed this back in March. Given this festive season (which for us starts with X-ween, then X-Giving, followed by X-Mas, and finally X-Years), a retread of this post seems in order.

We at Unwashed Advocate have a direct line to the big guy, as you should already know. Did you think we wouldn’t?

A Call for National Conversation: The Voodoo Punanny Defense

When I first started writing this blog, someone told me that my writing should seek to do two things. First, it should provide helpful information to the profession as a whole. Second, it should contribute meaningfully to the legal conversation.

I haven’t always followed this advice, and my posts are often, at best, trivial and anything but significant. Today, however, is my intent to broach a subject that is both necessary and important to today’s legal environment.

This will not be merely one post. Instead, my ideas and the conversation will stretch over several posts over several weeks in an attempt to be as complete as possible. (Scroll to the bottom of this post for a list of anticipated future episodes.)

The subject of this series is one that I’ve seen weaved into the fabric of countless punitive actions, and I suspect other attorneys in other areas of law see it just as much, if not more. I’ve seen defense counsel explain it effectively in order to zealously represent their client, and others have completely missed it. I’ve never seen it addressed in an academic forum, though the issue is occasionally alluded-to. Most often, it is avoided, and understandably so.

I’m sure I’ll be vilified by some for what I’m about to write—especially by those with delicate sensibilities when it comes to discussing the power of sexuality among humans. I understand this and bear no ill will to those who choose to think ill of me. It happens, like excrement. Know that my advocacy of this concept as a defense, mitigation, extenuation does not apply to sexual assault or any other sex-based crime. None of what I’m about to say has ever, or will ever, apply to those types of offenses. As with everything, there are limits. Most are reasonable.

Note: For those who take umbrage with the use of certain terms, have no fear and be patient. Episode 4 is for you. This is truly an equal opportunity subject. There are differences, but the big picture is the same.

What I do ask is that you withhold all condemnation until the end. Hopefully, you’ll see that this issue transcends gender or orientation. Everyone is susceptible. Everyone has the potential of being a victim. It is magical. It is voodoo.

With that brief disclaimer/intro/blather, sit back and take this at a casual pace. By moving ahead in this post, you are joining a conversation about a subject that has vexed mankind since the dawn of our existence.

Episode 1: It’s time for a national conversation about the Voodoo Punanny Defense.

When I first found voodoo I was in my 20’s

I was workin’ at a club and tryin’ to be funny

Met a sweet girl named Ilene she had the nicest legs I’d ever seen

We had a few laughs and a few white russians

laughs turned into feelin’ and touchin’

We started to kiss and she said I think your nice

let me take you back to my place and ruin your life

It was voodoo

Just one night with her changed my world

Ilene was no ordinary average girl

she had ultra hot fox mammy jammy

nuclear hot powered voodoo punanny

—-Joe Rogan, Voodoo Punanny

Arriving at Fort Polk, Louisiana, I began my first job as a labor attorney and was mostly sheltered away from the folks who prosecuted and defended cases under the Uniform Code of  Military Justice. I was in an entry level job, which all new JAGs must do before being entrusted with the keys to the UCMJ machine. At the same time, we were out of the way and often able to observe goings-on without being a direct part of the action.

The work was generally mundane, steadily working through one’s inbox, hoping to transfer all paperwork to its brother, the appropriately named outbox. For this reason, we were always game for the latest bit of office gossip. Some more amusing than others.

After a few weeks, we learned of low-level punitive action being taken against a young paralegal. This was big news because it was one of our own, usually a fairly trustworthy lot. This particular paralegal (I’ll call him Pinto because I can’t remember his name.) was diminutive and hunched, with large, thick glasses. He shuffled around the hallways, searching, it appeared, for self confidence. He was quiet and relatively dependable, so I heard.

One day, I learned Pinto was in trouble and faced punishment. He used his government issued credit card for personal reasons. This was a big no-no, as the purpose of this card was well-known and emphatically explained to everyone who held one. It was only to be used for official government travel purposes. He used it at WalMart and a few other places around town, purchasing nothing having to do with government travel.

Pinto faced a relatively small slap on the wrist in the form of nonjudicial punishment, a tool used by commanders to punish lower-level infractions. Since this was his first mistake, and it didn’t involve harm to another person, chances were he’d get a second chance. That’s exactly what happened.

One month later, my colleague sauntered into my office mid-morning.

“Did you hear what happened to Pinto?”

“No,” I replied.

“He used his government credit card again.”

“On travel?”

“Would I mention it to you if it was?”

A second offense. What would drive him to commit a second, nearly identical offense after getting a sweet second chance?

We began to discuss how Pinto went from a quiet, dependable soldier to being a repeat offender and cautionary tale for one of the easier rules to follow.

My friend explained “He just got married to a woman with 4 kids.”

“Oh?”

“She works at New Orleans Ladies,” he stated.

Best I could tell, New Orleans Ladies had no connection with the actual city or women from there, but it was a catchy enough name to make it the best-known “gentleman’s” club in the Leesville, Louisiana metro area.

My friend continued, “He tells people she’s not a stripper, but that she just works there.”

We both chortled.

“Well, I hope his parents are buying the story, for his sake,” I replied. “You seen her?”

“Yup.”

“And?” I inquired.

“Probably average for strippers around here.”

“Well, that explains it,” I concluded. “Poor little guy never stood a chance.”

My peer nodded in agreement.

We both knew what happened to him. We knew what drove him to commit acts that reduced him from a Specialist to slick-sleeved Private.

His wife knew the route. Pinto had never even seen a map.

Voodoo.

you can’t resist the power it holds

so listen very carefully to the story I’ve told

Punanny got magic punanny got powers

It’s the only reason men buy flowers

—-Joe Rogan, Voodoo Punanny

I didn’t witness any of the proceedings against Pinto, and I never spoke directly to him about it. Yet, all of us (males and females alike) recognized a few undisputed facts.

o She was probably the best-looking woman he’d ever dated (and perhaps the only one).

o Vegas odds would say that she completely rocked his world. When she chose. How she chose.

o He powers placed Pinto in such distress that he was willing to abandon a free, single life for one with miss-works-at-a-strip-club-not-as-a-stripper and 4 kids that were not his (all on a pay grade E-4 salary).

o In order to keep the peace, he was willing to commit misconduct twice, with the second time after having been punished for the first. We knew that, after the first act, he was counseled copiously by the company commander about support services for young soldier families. Even with all of this information and promises of support, he whipped-out the government credit card at WalMart in order to buy supplies for his dysfunctional Brady Bunch. His actions suggested he didn’t have time to plan or react. He had to grab the first thing that could pay the bill. He was under duress.

As his case gained more in-office notoriety, several other soldiers confessed to witnessing the wife verbally berating Pinto in-person and over the phone. She was in charge. Such is the case when you’re the only one in the relationship who knows the route.

Only one thing could explain such a hold over a person. Voodoo.

It had absolute power over him.

He couldn’t think. He couldn’t feel. All he thought was how she made him squeal.

Did ya ever meet man with a bitchy wife ?

wonder why the guy wanna ruin his life

By bein’ married to a woman that’s mean to him

Well I’m gonna tell you somethin’ so listen kid

When the lights go down and the candles flame

i bet that woman doesn’t act the same

I bet you what she got is really sweet

Bet you that girl is packin’ heat

When he gets her alone whips out his bannana

She gives him a dose of the voodoo punanna

you ain’t gonna forget it You can’t ignore it

no matter where you look there ain’t no cure for it

don’t waste your time tryin’ to run and hide

voodoo haunts you every night

—-Joe Rogan, Voodoo Punanny

The kid was punished harshly on the second offense and processed for administrative discharge. If I remember correctly, he received a General Discharge, losing his most substantial veteran benefits in the process.

We all wondered to ourselves: Was his home-life adequately explained in his defense? Did the commander who punished Pinto know of all the facts and circumstances?

While perhaps not an absolute defense, we all agreed that the voodoo was, at a minimum, a healthy dose of both mitigation and extenuation. Though we understood this, we knew that it was not a subject discussed widely or with any emphasis. We couldn’t help but think that the commander didn’t know about the severity of the voodoo suffered by this sad-sack of a soldier. All the commander saw was a guy who violated the law twice, with knowledge.

No excuse.

 

you can’t resist the power it holds

so listen very closely to the story I’ve told

It’s the reason women drink free martinis

the reason old men buy lamborghinis

—-Joe Rogan, Voodoo Punanny

The goal here is not to belittle or shame or chastise. The goal is awareness and consideration. While it may not gain sympathy, we will settle for understanding. Ultimately, finders of fact, those who find guilt, and those who impose punishment need to know all facts and circumstances. An appropriate conviction or punishment should be one that considers all facts, factors, and stimuli.

Yep, the stimuli.

By the end of this series, you may feel moved to write your senator or member of congress and ask for statutory recognition of the voodoo punanny defense. At the same time, you may want to put a burning bag of dog shit on my front porch. I’ll respect whichever you choose. Just remember what this is about.

This is about the accused.

This is about victims.

This is about victimized accuseds.

This is about the future of our children in a just and fair society, and their protection.

Most importantly, it is about nuclear, hot, powered, voodoo punanny.

It has been present throughout history. It is currently all around us. So long as humans continue as a species, it will always exist. And, all we have to combat it is education, knowledge, and understanding. That’s why I’m writing to you.

Until the next episode. Stay safe. Stay sane. Stay aware. Never leave your wingman.

___________________________

Stay tuned to future episodes of our series on the Voodoo Punanny Defense.

Episode 2: A Brief History of Voodoo Punanny: From Eve to the Kardashians

Episode 3: In Defense, Mitigation, and Extenuation

Episode 4: The Thrust of Voodoo Banana (AKA The Richard Burton Effect)

___________________________

Because Hyperbole Hurts A Cause

So, with the recent hubbub about government leaks, justice, fairness, and civil rights, the internet is rife with varying opinions from a few honest people,  oodles of pundits, and, of course, a cornucopia of nut jobs.

Here’s a quick note for all of you, hyperbole doesn’t help you, the object of your sympathy, or your cause.

A good example:

20130623-123246.jpg

 

He’s been naked for years? We’re left imagining an emaciated, naked Manning curled-up on the wet concrete floor of a sub-basement cell with no windows, lights, or stimuli.

Based on what I’ve read, this seems like a huge stretch. Based on my various visits to military prisons, it is a colossal stretch. While I agree that his treatment at the Marine Brig was improper and illegal (this is why the judge granted him more than 100 days of confinement credit on any possible future sentence), it hardly amounts to years or the image conjured by inaccurate and sensational journalism. I suspect his attorney (the man who knows most about what Manning thinks, knows, and has experienced) would agree. You see, hyperbole hurts his case, too.

Such exaggeration hurts your cause, regardless of what it might be. Why? It makes you look dishonest. It makes you look desperate. Not because you are desperately seeking fairness, but because it gives the appearance that you know the facts don’t effectively support your slant. Too often, it makes you look crazy. Is that what you want for something that is important to you?

We should be able to trust the journalism industry to give us the facts and empower us to understand important news stories in one, rapid read. Sadly, that is hardly the case in this modern era.

But, what do I know? I’ve only been practicing law for a few centuries.

____________________

AN ASIDE: The first response to the initial tweet speaks of Manning’s case not going to a judge for a long time. Of course, the fact that it didn’t is consistent with the laws that govern the UCMJ. Instead, various commanders in Manning’s chain of command hold quasi-judicial authority in the initial stages of a military judicial proceeding. Those who are particularly slanted against military authority would scoff at this and talk about the unfairness embodied by military commanders. Of course, the same would also find a way to minimize the fairness of a judge, if one were involved from the beginning. So, I acknowledge the fact that I can’t win this argument, and I’ll stop typing.

Leo’s Donuts: Setting the Bar at ∞

I already raved about Leo’s Donuts in Radcliff, Kentucky. They are the best. I spend my disposable income there. The proof is my body-fat percentage.

On Friday, they set the bar even higher.

Picture, if you will, a small-town donut shop experiencing late-morning doldrums after the breakfast rush.

I enter and look at the case. The maple bacon donuts are gone. I sigh and say “It looks like I missed your morning batch of maple bacon donuts. Bummer.”

The lovely employee at the counter replied “I can make you a couple right now.”

I had no words. I merely nodded my head and wept softly.

George Jones: Flawed, And I Don’t Give a Damn

As a kid, most of my Saturday mornings were spent rumbling along gravel roads in NE Kansas in my dad’s beat-up Chevy truck. We meandered from farm auction to farm auction. He bought a lot of dollar boxes–piles of junk in disintegrating and smelly cardboard, but with the possibility of a little piece of farm-gold contained within. They were all still piled-up in the barn when I cleaned it out 20 years later for our own farm auction–the only one of them I wish I could forget.

On those trips, the radio was always tuned to 61 Country, a Kansas City country and western station. AM, of course. Waylon and Willie were always heard on those mornings. So was Ronnie Milsap, and Johnny Cash, and Conway Twitty,  and even the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.

On the best of those days, there was always at least one offering from George Jones. His tales were the ones that made my dad listen. Really listen.

I listened, too. But, I’d never admit it. As a kid, I couldn’t admit such a thing to my father.

Now, though, I admit it to all of you, wishing I could do the same with my father and sad that one of the voices from my childhood passed today.

Be Mine. Be Aggressive.

I’m not a fan of Twitter, but I look occasionally out of morbid curiosity. Occasionally, true gems are posted (in 140 characters or less). Here’s one that deserves its own sign:

Screen Shot 2013-04-09 at 12.38.00 PM

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I think highly of the Fishtown Lawyers. They seem to have a lot of fun as a sort of Philly Laurel and Hardy. Jordan tends to be the more mischievous of the two, and Leo acts as comic foil while interspersing pearls of hard-earned wisdom. They also practice law the right way, knowing that clients come first. Personal comforts come a distant, distant second.

Anywho. I love what Leo said in 140 characters or less. I wish more potential clients understood it. Clients who are focused on obtaining the services of an “aggressive” lawyer present us with a no-win scenario. How is it no-win? Consider a few possible legal courses of action and how a demand for aggressiveness causes them all to fail, even if the legal outcome is positive.

Note: I’m putting this in terms of criminal representation, but you could easily change a few words to make it apply to any flavor of adversarial practice of law.

Course of Action 1: The Amicable Negotiation

Lawyer: Hey, Biff, I talked to the prosecutor, and he’s willing to settle your case for X. This is great because most cases like yours result in X+Y. I think he was feeling pretty good when I talked to him at the local bar golf tournament, and I caught him in his happy place. Otherwise, I think you’d be looking at 2 or 3 times this result, since they had you on video, you gave a written confession, and it was witnessed by 40 sober people during daylight. I know from my 20 years of experience that you’d probably get a lot more from a judge or jury.

Biff: What the hell, dude? You played golf with the guy? I want you to kick his ass and make the prosecutor suffer. You’re supposed to fight for me. I thought you were AG-RES-SIVE?! I want to fight this thing the whole way. You suck.

Course of Action 2: Your Standard, Ho-Hum Ethical Practice

Biff: Hey, Lawyer, thanks for sending me a copy of this motion you filed with the court. I looked through it and saw that you didn’t make any mention of the fact that the police officer who questioned me served detention in high school back in 1999 for not bringing a calculator to his Algebra 2 class. Remember, I told you that my mom, who is a secretary at the school, looked up his disciplinary records and found it. I gave copies to you. Remember?

Lawyer: I understand, but that really doesn’t help, and I think we’ll win based on—

Biff: He’s an asshole! I thought you were going to show this and destroy him. I thought you were AG-RES-SIVE!?

Lawyer: I know, but I think we’ll lose credibility with the judge. I think we can use his conduct on the day of your arrest to show that you did not voluntarily gi—

Biff: Also, I see at the end of the motion that you provided the prosecutors with a copy of the motion on the day you gave it to the judge.

Lawyer: Yes, I did.

Biff: Why are you sharing it with them? I thought we were supposed to have confidentiality. I thought you were going to be aggressive and protect me from them!

Lawyer: Well, I’m required to—

Biff: I’m your client!

Lawyer: Yes, but the judge will—

Biff: I don’t care what the judge will do. I want you to be AG-RES-SIVE! Fight for me!

Lawyer: …

Course of Action 3: Aggressive

Lawyer: OK, here’s what I did. First, I filed this motion by throwing it in the court clerk’s face. After all, that old bag works about 50 feet from the prosecutor’s office, so you know they’re part of the conspiracy against you. Then, I went into the prosecutor’s office and told them that, if they wanted a copy of the motion, they’d have to go get one from the court clerk. When they left to retrieve the motion, I grabbed your case file from their desk, found their work-product notes, and took pictures of them with my cell phone. Then, I took a copy of the motion, put it in a paper bag. I pooped in the bag, went to the judge’s house, lit the bag on fire, and placed it on his front step. Then, I hid in the bushes. The judge walked out and stomped on the bag, causing poop to splatter. Then, I ran out of the bushes, pointed at him, and said “You just stepped in my poop! Ha! Ha!” They all hate us, and I’ll probably end-up in jail. Plus, they’ll never negotiate or cut us any slack, and I’m sure they’ll ask for a higher sentence in the end. However, I really showed them that we aren’t going to take any of their crap. I totally own them.

Biff: That sounds nice, but I wanted you to be a bit more aggressive.

Hey Boy Scouts, I Have Your Survey Right Here

So, today I received an online survey from the Boy Scouts of America. They want to know what I think, as the parent of a scout, of changing their policy on homosexual membership.

The problem is that they didn’t let me fully answer the questions. I was merely allowed to rank things on a numerical scale from “Totally Unacceptable” to “Totally Acceptable,” with a few in-between rankings. Mine were absolute, so I won’t bother you with the middling possibilities. Since they won’t let me re-access the survey to get the questions exactly, let me try to remember them as best as possible.

Question 1: Is it acceptable for a church (as a chartering organization for a scout unit) to deny membership to homosexual scouts or leaders.

My answer: Totally Unacceptable.

Why: Those organizations blatantly discriminate against segments of the population and are therefore incompatible with the values that the Boy Scouts of America purports to support and encourage. In short, policies of discrimination are completely incompatible with scouting values.

Question 2: Is it acceptable for a homosexual boy to be allowed to join Boy Scouts? (I believe this was styled as a question that had the homosexual boy joining an organization where my son is a member.)

My answer: Totally Acceptable.

Why:  Why not? Why discriminate? The life lessons taught by the scouting program do not ever touch on sexuality. Instead, they focus on life skills, treating others with dignity and respect, and leadership. How would the presence of a homosexual boy alter or diminish those central tenets? It wouldn’t, except that it might benefit the other boys who are taught a valuable lesson about tolerance, acceptance, and diversity because of his presence.

Question 3: Suppose a church sponsors a scout unit. Suppose that church allows homosexuals. Suppose the pastor of the church is homosexual and also a scout leader. Is it OK for him to take scouts on trips and campouts, even if youth protection policies are followed?

My answer: Totally Acceptable.

Why: See the why for question 2. The same applies here. Additionally, the assertion that gay=pedophile is one of the most ignorant, bullshit arguments I’ve ever heard. Whomever created that lie should be (figuratively) fed into my wood chipper. Feet first.

There you go. My answers to the 3 questions posed to me in the survey. So, why am I bugged so much that I’d write a blog post about it?

The fact that they even need to ask these questions shows that the organization is still a deplorable not-for-profit (or not-blatantly-for-profit) group of deluded and unethical scum who have no loyalty to the core values of the program.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again.

The Boy Scout Program is a wonderful and enriching one that helps boys to be better men.

The Boy Scout Organization is a disgusting business that disguises itself as a not-for-profit and angelic presence in our society while supporting discriminatory policies.

Oh, and while we’re at it, they should also drop their ban on atheists and agnostics. Want to know why?

They say that atheists and agnostics are also incompatible with scouting values.

Really?

I have a few questions for the Boy Scout Organization.

Have you read a few of the headlines about the Catholic Church and little boys? Their reaction to the same allegations? Their policies concerning employment of women. Their history in the area of human rights? Yet, it is perfectly fine to be a devoted follower of this church.

Have you ever read a fact-based (as opposed to biased) biography of Joseph Smith? Do so. Then tell me if he embodied scouting values. Trustworthy? Clean? I think not. Yet, the organization wholeheartedly embraces the followers of the stuff he translated from reformed Egyptian language written on gold plates through a seeing stone. Oh, in a hat. The plates were also in a hat. I forgot to mention that.

Have you ever really read some of the atrocities committed by “god” in the Old Testament? Do those, in any way, embody your values?

Just think about it. Think about all the horrible, disgusting things that have happened in the name of religion. Sure, there are good things, too, but doesn’t the same hold true for those who have no belief (or no established and embraced belief)  in god? Maybe you’ll realize that perhaps atheists and agnostics aren’t so darned bad after all. Think about reading about the American Humanist Society (with many, many atheists), which advocates doing good things for people, not because they want to buy eternal salvation or approval from some all-powerful entity in the sky, but just because it’s a decent thing to do.

I guess that’s the real problem here, isn’t it? I’d be asking you to do something decent, and that’s just a bridge too far for the Organization.

Keep dragging your feet fellas (especially those earning handsome not-for-profit salaries in Irving, TX. Maybe those pesky and evil atheist homosexuals will someday shut up, or so I’m sure you’re hoping.