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Having felt trapped more than once in a corporation or public utility’s fifth circle of customer service hell, I empathize with the public’s anger and frustration. Nothing elevates the blood pressure like getting placed in interminable telephone waiting queues or otherwise being forced to engage in futile debates with unresponsive call center drones when trying to fix a customer problem.

No wonder the epic customer service meltdown that circulated last year resonated with so many. Talk about a teachable but unlearned moment.

And also see Aaron Spain’s viral video, “Comcast put me on hold until they closed,” about his sitting on hold for 3 hours trying to cancel Comcast service last August.

So when I heard about a new web-based service purporting to “fight the faceless corporations causing your customer service nightmares,” I was intrigued — in spite of the website’s indelicate name, “Assholes On Demand.” Their motto is “Non sibi, sed suis” or “Not for oneself but for one’s own.” Of course, it could all be for laughs, too.

The “project” is headed by principals Erin Scottberg and Erik Martin who list a Manhattan area phone number on their website and offer the following somewhat ambiguous explanation about their deliverables:

“Assholes on Demand helps people get what they rightfully deserve. We’re caring and resourceful assholes* who will fight the faceless corporations causing your customer service nightmares. You’re not alone and you aren’t going crazy. 

“Assholes on Demand currently only accepts Pro Bono cases. We specialize in helping senior citizens, active duty military, and non-English speakers.

“If you or a loved one have no where else to turn, contact us maybe we can help. If you’re an asshole, volunteer with us and put your powers to good use. 

We’re like the X-Men, but for assholes!”

Giving them the benefit of the doubt, however, I salute the undertaking. Hopefully it does turn out to be altruistic and honest of intentions.

Last, I don’t know if the folks providing “Assholes on Demand” are lawyers. I doubt it, even if it sounds like this ought to be a lawyer’s bailiwick. It prompts, too, my of a salty old lawyer friend who analogously sasses his explanation when asked why people hire lawyers, he answers “Why send an amateur, when you can hire a professional asshole?”

And of course, it also prompts some Mel Brooks.

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Photo Credits: “Angry Crazy Man,” by Catherine Helzerman, chelzerman, at Flickr via Creative Commons-licensed content requiring attribution and share alike distribution.

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http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/3/31/Toe_tag.jpgStarting in law school, continuing till the final hour’s billed, and doubtless, just before the toe tag’s attached, there’ll be a marketer trying to wrest a lawyer’s last discretionary death’s door dollar. This was true back when conventional wisdom held lawyers were dependably fertile targets thanks to all that money they supposedly made.

But even now after the economy’s shown lawyers aren’t recession-proof or that the glut of tuition-indebted law school graduates has consigned many to work for peanuts, the trolling’s only become worse.

There’s pay-per-click; online lawyer directories; SEO and social media; lead referrers and lawyer rating advertisers. And not to mention uber-expensive practice and case management software, electronic legal research tools, and court rule books by annual subscription. You’d think prudence if not parsimony would dictate careful cost-benefit analyses.

Paid praise.

So when a couple of weeks ago someone left a message asking me to call right back because I’d been “selected” for a “Who’s Who” Directory — let’s just say my hungry skepticism didn’t make me drop the guacamole on my chip to call. As a friend is fond of saying, “I may’ve been born at night — just not last night.”

In an era of selfies and self-promoting portly posteriors, who even knew such anachronisms still existed? Like phone directories and cockroaches, apparently who’s who will survive who cares at the Apocalypse.

And then last week, I was emailed with news I’d been selected for a top 100 list! Who can stand the ‘adulation’? But like ‘winning’ sweepstakes notices and attorney email collection appeals, they’re not unique.

Just last year, Matt Brown at Tempe Criminal Defense Blog took down similar “parasitical” marketing efforts meant to burnish ‘fragile’ lawyer egos — of course, for a price.

But as for those “Who’s Who” directories, they’re simply a form of vanity publication since one way or another, ‘honorees’ pay for the ‘honor.’ Most follow the same model, too, which is that inclusion is ‘free’ while the publishers overeagerly hustle expensive copies along with other overpriced distinctions of a dubious honorific.

When you’ve gotta pay for such faint praise in what one pundit calls, “The Hall of Lame,” then “Don’t feel too special if you’re invited to be in a “Who’s Who” directory” as blogger Sheryl Harris posted at “‘Who’s Who’ invite aims at your ego — and your wallet.”

Fortunately for me, however, about the same time I was being pestered for paid ‘triumphant achievement’ honors, I unexpectedly received something more valuable — a “VIP gift” from a Vietnamese Pho restaurant I frequent.

Pho VIP

The owner and her wait-staff appreciatively presented me with a flashlight pen imprinted with the restaurant’s admittedly homophonically-challenged business name, “Pho King Eggroll.” They said it was given “only to VIP customers.”

Just think, I’m a “Pho King” VIP and all it cost me were some bowls of noodle soup.

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Photo Credits: ”Toe Tag,” by Dep. Garcia at Wikipedia Commons under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License; Vanity by A. T., 1890 (source: Wikipaintings), public domain; Children with paper crowns, by phlubdr at Flickr via Creative Commons attribution license;Untitled, by The Integer Club at Flickr via Creative Commons attribution license.

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A guy is driving around the back woods of Montana and he sees a sign in front of a broken down shanty-style house: “Talking Dog For Sale.” He rings the bell and the owner appears and tells him the dog is in the backyard.

The guy goes into the backyard and sees a nice looking Labrador Retriever sitting there.

“You talk?” he asks.

“Yep,” the Lab replies.

After the guy recovers from the shock of hearing a dog talk, he says “So, what’s your story?”

The Lab looks up and says, “Well, I discovered that I could talk when I was pretty young. I wanted to help the government, so . . . I told the CIA.

“In no time at all they had me jetting from country to country, sitting in rooms with spies and world leaders, because no one figured a dog would be eavesdropping.

“I was one of their most valuable spies for eight years running.

“But the jetting around really tired me out, and I knew I wasn’t getting any younger so I decided to settle down. I signed up for a job at the airport to do some undercover security, wandering near suspicious characters and listening in. I uncovered some incredible dealings and was awarded a batch of medals.

“I got married, had a mess of puppies, and now I’m just retired.”

The guy is amazed. He goes back in and asks the owner what he wants for the dog.

‘Ten dollars,” the guy says.

“Ten dollars? This dog is amazing! Why on earth are you selling him so cheap?

“Because he’s a Bullshitter.

He’s never been out of the yard.”

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Some thoughts about listening and lie-detection.

My brother emailed me the preceding talking dog joke last week. And while it may be well-traveled anonymous Internet humor, it prompted my post on something I’ve kicked around for a while — ‘Is it possible for a lawyer to develop a nose for Pinocchio prevarication a.k.a. a bullshit detector?’

Forgetting those bad jokes about lips-moving lawyers or the adage, it takes one to know one, the short answer is ‘yes’ — but only with good listening skills.

Years ago, a Hank Ketcham Dennis the Menace cartoon graced the wallboard next to my office coffee station. Dennis was in the foreground in the usual trouble as he explained his latest mischief. His peeved mother, arms crossed, stood to his left with his perplexed dad home from work on his right. The caption read, “Do you wanna hear my version, mom’s version or the truth?”

business,businessmen,crossed fingers,dishonesty,fingers crossed,gestures,lack of integrity,liars,males,men,metaphors,people,persons,telling lies

I kept that cartoon to remind me that as the poet observed, people sometimes “tell all the truth but tell it slant.” Listening effectively means understanding that gradations of truth occur in fact-gathering. So when evaluating a client representation, lawyers must cultivate a practiced ear and listen carefully to grasp the factual versus the fictitious — the nuanced truth versus the cunning adulteration.

It’s more art than science. As an essayist once noted, “each of us tells little lies to make it through the day, and an indistinct line divides fair from foul.”

So when a long-time lawyer and friend exaggeratedly quips, “All clients lie,” I know that, in spite of his hyperbole, he’s channeling Dennis the Menace. He means there’s more than one side to every story. This is especially true when a legal representation concerns intra-family conflicts, workplace controversies or business disputes.

To get to those ‘versions’ requires good listening. This is why legal writing professor Jennifer Romig is absolutely right when she says,“good listening makes good lawyering.” Fortunately, effective listening skills can be learned.

As for lie detection — not so much. Sure there are books, studies and articles claiming to help determine when someone is lying. I’m not sure I believe them. In my experience, finely-tuned bullshit detection comes mostly through hard-knock ‘fool me once’ life experience.

That said, last month lawyer Mark Wilson posted his “5 Ways to Tell When a Client Is Lying to You.” Momentarily putting aside what a lawyer must ethically do when a client plans to lie-to-acquittal or otherwise thinks perjury is play-doh pliable, Wilson focused instead on clients who 1) speak vaguely; 2) have dilated pupils; 3) use body language to physically distance; 4) make inconsistent statement; and 5) are verbose.

Save for spotting narrative inconsistencies, those may or may not be helpful cues to uncover a lie. Still it’s a popular exercise. Other psycho-pop theories, for example, suggest that too much or too little eye contact; nose touching; hand-waving; fidgeting and just general uneasiness are also sure-fire lie-catchers.

However, none of these so-called clues are infallible or fool-proof. They won’t, for instance, expose a tall tale wagging canine.

Like the yarn-spinning yard-bound Labrador, in my experience, the more creative people are the better liars.

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Photo Credits: IMG_33151 by Elisa at Flickr via Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic License; Stylin’ by Marvin Kuo at Flickr via Creative Commons Attribution; smiling labrador and yellow flowers, by nox-AM-ruit at Flickr Creative Commons via Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic license;more faces, by Stephanie Sicore at Flickr via Creative Commons Attribution; Alex 1 by Ted at Flickr via Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license.

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Lawyers get a bad rap even when sometimes it’s deserved. But in the case of Alabama lawyers Wendy Brooks Crew, Alyson Hood Rains and Cameron Hogan, I’m not so sure. The three lawyers have been catching flak ever since it was reported they’d be getting 99.8% of the settlement authorized by the City of Birmingham, Alabama for their client, Anthony Warren. The money settles Warren’s federal suit over police excessive force. But what’s had tongues wagging is that his lawyers will get $100,000 for expenses and $359,000 in fees — while Warren will net $1,000.

Warren’s suit arose after a January 23, 2008 high-speed police chase — where he ran over a police officer, hit a school bus, a police car and ultimately lost control of his van when it rolled into a ditch. He was ejected from the driver’s side window and landed unconscious in the ditch. He plead guilty to charges from the incident, which included attempted murder, and is currently serving a 20-year sentence.

j0289753According to court documents, Warren had no recollection after his ejection. Per the court memorandum’s statement of facts, “the police officers “descended on [him] and started to brutally beat him with excessive force. At no time did Plaintiff move or offer any threat of harm to [them]. One of the police officers repeatedly struck Plaintiff’s body with a billy club. Another police officer “pummeled” Plaintiff’s head and upper body with his fist. Three other police officers kicked Plaintiff “numerous times about his body.””

A dashboard police vehicle video camera caught it on tape. In the statement of facts, Warren also maintained“the portion of tape where the [police officers] brutally beat . . . Plaintiff was suppressed by the City of Birmingham and deleted from evidence provided to Plaintiff’s defense counsel.” It was almost one year before Warren and his lawyers obtained the complete unaltered videotape.

Alleging he was the victim of police excessive force when he was beaten as he lay face down and unconscious in the ditch, he sued under federal civil rights statute 42 U.S.C. 1983, which permits “any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof” to bring a private action against another person or entity “who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or the District of Columbia” deprives them of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution or federal law.

But why did Warren only get $1,000? According to a lawyer for the defendants, he only got “nominal damages” because the City proved his injuries resulted from the vehicle crash not the officers’ actions. Warren’s lawyers dispute this. But without an adjudication, we’ll never know.

Second-guessing the settlement.

113054714849Fast forward five and a half years to 2014 and as Warren’s lawyers maintain — “thousands of hours” and it’s easy to second-guess their out-of-court settlement absent more facts.

But lawyers steeped in such civil rights claims acknowledge police brutality suits are long, hard-fought and difficult to win. Warren’s lawyers say as much in a public statement they felt compelled to make after all the negative post-settlement fallout. It mentions very difficult burdens of proof,” police officer qualified immunity, and juror biases “against awarding money to a person convicted of a crime.”

People 2180Moreover, police departments aren’t quick to settle these cases. One scholar goes as far as declaring so-called ‘1983’ suits are not only “ineffective in deterring police brutality” but“are difficult and expensive to pursue” since most victims are minorities with few financial resources to hire lawyers for protracted litigation.

Judges Gavel42 USC § 1988 enables a court to award reasonable attorney’s fees to the prevailing party in civil rights cases. But Warren’s case settled without a verdict.

Moreover, I haven’t a clue about the fee agreement between Warren and his lawyers, for example, whether it was a contingent-fee contract where his lawyers received a gross recovery percentage, which would be offset by any court-awarded attorney’s fee — or whether or not his lawyers left money on the negotiation table — or how they handled the inherent conflicts of interest between them and their client. But no matter, all the disputants approved the settlement.

Sure I know lawyers personally and by reputation who advertise they “never earn more money than the client” or that they “NEVER charge more in Attorney fees than our client puts in pocket.” But those firms handle personal injury contingency-fee claims not civil rights actions like the one here.

So without more facts and better media explanations about the obstacles faced by civil rights plaintiffs, it’s hardly surprising Warren’s lawyers have been criticized.

Caucasian businesswoman with finger pointing upwards uidIndeed, more than just criticism, the lawyers characterized some of it as harassment, noting in their statement, “Over the past 48 hours, my co-counsel and I have been harassed, called names and threatened by countless people via telephone calls, emails, and internet messages because of the settlement agreement that was disclosed this week. We have been called criminals, thugs, crooks, thieves, liars, cheats, and many other names.”

People 1857They conclude, We represented Anthony Warren, absolutely. Just as important, though, we were extremely proud to represent the Constitutional rights of every person in this great country. We did this knowing that there was a very good chance that none of us would ever be compensated a dime for any of the hard work we put into the case because freedom and liberty are not just words to us, but they are instead actual rights that we are willing to fight for. Because we did so successfully, we are being demonized instead of thanked. That is fine. Attorneys have long been the butt of jokes, and I would expect nothing less from those with little knowledge of the actual terms and circumstances. Regardless, Mr. Warren and his family know the terms of the agreement, and they were very pleased with the outcome. We are all extremely proud to have represented Anthony Warren and the U.S. Constitution in this case.”

But unfortunately for Warren’s protesting lawyers, given the usual tide of Internet meanness and anything anonymously goes, the tiny violins will unsympathetically play on.


 

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Photo Credits: No Name #4, by David Mican at Flickr Attribution; world’s smallest violin, blingee.com.

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And so I found myself pondering the quote, “I listen to what you say, but I hear what you mean.” It was attributed to Agatha Christie’s famed Belgian detective Hercule Poirot, as played by actor David Suchet.

But it wasn’t until late last night that I came across the thought-provoker. Monday had caught up with me before I was ready to let go of Sunday.

That’s why I hadn’t yet finished reading Sunday’s NY Times Magazine and particularly Hope Reeves’ interview with Suchet, Part of Me Died With Him containing the quote. Suchet, who played Poirot in the BBC show, says Poirot made him “a better listener.”

Were it only so that we listened with Poirot’s discernment. More often’s the case that people don’t listen to what you say — and hear only what they mean. Or as the late Steven Covey perceptively proclaimed, “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”  

And so also true in the same interview was Suchet’s later declaration, “most people actually enjoy talking about themselves more than sharing with another person.”

On that note, here’s one more free continuing legal education link, which I missed last week. It comes with the usual disclaimers.

FREE CLE

ESI, Ethics and Social Media: What Attorneys Should and Should Not Be Doing

Bloomberg BNA
Thursday, October 16, 2014
1:00 PM – 2:30 PM ET
1.5 CLE Credit Hours
Product Code – LGA285

• Understand how social media may appropriately be used to advertise.

• Learn how legal advice may be given through social media.

• Understand how social media can be used to gather and review evidence.

• Discover how social media can be used to communicate with clients.

• Find out how juror research may be conducted through social media.

http://www.bna.com/esi-ethics-social-w17179891704/?id=17179891704

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http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/5/56/The_Thinker%2C_Rodin.jpg/180px-The_Thinker%2C_Rodin.jpgI was thinking of incivility again. Maybe, it was prompted by reading Kathleen Geier’s out-of-both sides of her mouth musings about Joan Rivers. On the one hand, Geier thought Rivers “was pretty great” but on the other, called her “a monster.”

Or perhaps it was reading ‘s back-handed homage Joan Rivers Should’ve Always Punched Up” where Doyle reflected, “Joan Rivers worked very hard to seem like an asshole — which is the highest compliment I can offer her.” 

Sure Rivers often crossed lines of etiquette, taste and civility. Sure she was politically incorrect. But oh the rich irony of critiquing someone for incivility — uncivilly.

And leave it to lawyers. Following Rivers’ death, one lawyer was pretzeling out supposed “Life Lessons for Lawyers” from her life.

What is it about lawyer self-absorption? I doubt dentists, dog catchers or podiatrists waste time divining occupational lessons from pop culture phenomena. Just a couple of years ago, navel-gazing lawyers were conjuring up faux analogies to find ‘lessons’ from “The Hunger Games.”

Lawyer incivility . . . again.

Or perhaps my latest reveries on incivility might have stemmed from a recently reported he-said, she-said case where the U.S. magistrate’s memorandum and order started with the following admonition: “‘You’re an asshole, Dan'” is not how an attorney should address her adversary.” 

Another day and another court order documenting what trial lawyer William B. Smith terms “The downward spiral of incivility.”

Let there be rules.

Comedians like Joan Rivers, though, don’t have to comport themselves according to professional rules of conduct. Lawyers, on the other hand, are required to comply with baseline legal ethics and professional responsibility standards. Those rules set forth their obligations and prohibitions. But that doesn’t mean lawyers always follow them.

Businessmen having disagreement uidIn point of fact, lawyers aren’t usually successful at playing nice. After all, wasn’t it Horace in early B.C. who said “Lawyers are men who hire out their words and anger”? So I’ve posted often about . And notwithstanding the fatuous notion of ivory tower professors who assert “The Obligation of Lawyers to Heal Civic Culture,” that parade’s long passed . . . along with the rest of society’s punctured civility.

Not to say that window-dressed efforts don’t occasionally arise to futilely tamp down on incivility. This past May, for instance, the California Supreme Court adopted a Civility” Oath Rule. It now requires that the oath taken by every newly-minted California lawyer conclude with: “As an officer of the court, I will strive to conduct myself at all times with dignity, courtesy, and integrity.”  Yeah, that’ll do it.

Black and White Business 11Far better is the 7-point practical approach promoted by the above-mentioned lawyer Smith in his excellent ‘how-to’ on avoiding incivility. Smith’s “prevention formula” is terrific. It includes such sensible prescriptions as calling opposing counsel as a get-acquainted first step to establish goodwill and create “the tone of respect.” He also recommends having more face time with the other side, touching on something most of us learned a long time ago — it’s easier to be a jerk in writing than in person. Don’t just count to ten — but wait 24 hours to “avoid writing nasty emails and letters.” For the rest of Smith’s formula, see “How to Avoid the Downward Spiral of Incivility.”

Grappling golfers.

Then again, my latest introspection may have stemmed from last month’s  news about another golf course fight. As most of you know, I make an effort to play something that approximates golf.

Although the nation’s passion for golf is waning, it nevertheless remains popular enough as both a source of enjoyment and aggravation. For most who play, best to remember what wiser heads advise, “We aren’t good enough to get so mad.”

Better still is A.A. Milne’s explanation, “It is the best game in the world at which to be bad.” No wonder that another no-holds barred comedian, Lewis Black, was on the mark about golfers.

This latest fight involved two Pennsylvania golfers who went at it and put themselves in an emergency room. Their argument? It was allegedly over Rule 25, which concerns casual water on the golf course.

Thankfully, despite their aggressive focus on rules interpretation, far as I could tell, neither the 63-year old nor the 42-year old Pennsylvania legalistic brawler was a lawyer. It wouldn’t have surprised me, though, if they’d both been versed not only at golf course rage but at the boring practice of water law.

But just as civility among lawyers can’t be legislated, cantankerousness can’t be stamped out on the golf links. It’s part of the DNA of the so-called ‘gentleman’s game’ as much as it’s a part of the so-called ‘noble profession.’

Consequently, the mere promulgation of rules of golf with a prefatory “the spirit of the game,” hardly means golfers abide religiously with the precept that “All players should conduct themselves in a disciplined manner, demonstrating courtesy and sportsmanship at all times, irrespective of how competitive they may be.”

Yeah, that’ll do it.

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Photo Credits: The Thinker, Rodin, at Wikimedia Commons, AndrewHorne at the wikipedia project, public domain; Joan Rivers Benefit Concert, by Bob Jagendorf at Flickr via Creative Commons license requiring attribution; Two Award Winning Flickr Photographers Duke it Out by Okinawa Soba at Flickr Creative Commons via Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license; Bad golf cart driver (after 2 days of rain) by Julia Rubinic at Flickr via Creative commons license requiring attribution.

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AndrewThomas.jpgAs he said he’d do, disbarred former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas is running for Governor of Arizona — along with the usual Arizona collection of migrant-demonizing far right extremists — each battling to outdo the other on talking tough about the border.

Nothing plays so well in Arizona than bashing ‘dem illegals’ and scaring seniors with tales about border-crossing brown-skinned border brothers.

But thanks to Arizona’s semi-closed primary system; customary low voter turnout and a reliably apathetic electorate unwilling to “DeKook the State Capitol,” it won’t matter who wins. One of the extremists will be elected and it’ll be more of the same for Arizona.

Payback.

‘Candy Andy,’ though, is back. Not that he really ever went away. In the words of the late not-so-great former Arizona Governor Evan Meacham, “I’ll tell you what, if a band of homosexuals and a few dissident Democrats can get me out of office, why heavens, the state deserves what else they can get.”  

And now that he wants to be governor, Thomas is probably hoping for the ‘Big Payback.’ Maybe he even thinks he’ll get the chance to pull a ‘California Governor Pete Wilson’ and give the State Bar of Arizona as much heartburn as Wilson gave the California Bar in 1997.

As for his chances — I wouldn’t rule him out. After all, this is a state with “asinus aspirations aplenty” and with an electorate that made Jan Brewer governor twice and Joe Arpaio Maricopa County Sheriff six times. So anything’s possible when you set the bar that low.

andrew-thomas-video-ad.jpgA week ago Tuesday, Thomas began running his first 30-second campaign ad. And he hit the controversy superfecta hammering on “illegal immigration;” condemning “liberal judges;” opposing “the gay lobby;” and aggravating trading-partner Mexico by crossing out the Mexican flag. Clearly he’s not lost his touch for serving red meat to his base or for making ‘amigos’ across the border.

Schadenfreude: Happiness at the Misfortune of Others.

 But speaking of dishes best served cold, I have little doubt Thomas was elated when in April of this year, news reports announced that his arch-nemesis, John Gleason, had been forced out of his job as the chief lord of prosecutorial discipline for the Oregon State Bar. After retiring from his post as head of Colorado’s Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel, Gleason had shown up in Oregon last March to take the job as Oregon State Bar disciplinary counsel and director of regulatory services. It didn’t turn out to be a long stint — only about a year. According to reports, it was “a short stormy run that antagonized lawyers around the state and divided the Oregon State Bar.”Besides asking for an ABA task force to come in to review Oregon’s disciplinary system, Gleason got some lawyers riled when he proposed some sweeping changes to the way lawyers are disciplined for ethical violations in Oregon. He proposed creating the office of Presiding Disciplinary Judge; a complete rewrite of the Bar’s Rules of Procedure; and a substantial reduction in the oversight and authority of the bar’s volunteer State Professional Responsibility Board in favor of more centralized authority with Gleason’s office of disciplinary counsel.

After his 2012 disbarment, Thomas told the press he’d been the victim of “a political witchhunt” for having “brought corruption cases in good faith involving powerful people, and the political and legal establishment blatantly covered up and retaliated by targeting my law license.” None of that got him anywhere with the judge but it might sell in Peoria — Arizona. For more background, see The ABA Journal’s “The Maricopa Courthouse War.”

But for all those who crowed Thomas’ comeuppance, the fact he’s running for governor has to grate — and with $754,000 in public financing funds, to boot.

And speaking of dishes best served cold, I have little doubt Thomas was elated when this past April, there occurred one more instance of schadenfreude cutting both ways. Or said more familiarly, another testament to ‘what goes around, comes around.’ John Gleason, the lead prosecutor, brought in at the behest of the Arizona bar and the state supreme court to bring Thomas to heel gave up his job in Oregon.

Gleason had been Colorado’s Attorney Regulation Honcho when he took the temporary gig in Arizona to prosecute Thomas for abusing his county attorney powers. In a 33-page complaint, Thomas and his cohorts were accused of misusing the office’s broad prosecutorial power to go after political enemies.

After wrapping up the Thomas et al. prosecution and then retiring from his post as head of Colorado’s Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel, Gleason turned up in Oregon in March 2013 to take the job as Oregon State Bar disciplinary counsel and director of regulatory services.

It didn’t turn out to be a long stint — only about a year. According to a news account, it was “a short stormy run that antagonized lawyers around the state and divided the Oregon State Bar.”

Besides asking for an ABA task force to review Oregon’s disciplinary system, Gleason had riled up lawyers by proposing sweeping changes to the way Oregon lawyers are disciplined for ethical violations. He proposed creating something he’s especially fond of, the office of Presiding Disciplinary Judge. He also recommended rewriting completely the Bar’s Rules of Procedure. Finally, he proposed reducing substantially the oversight and authority of the bar’s volunteer State Professional Responsibility Board in favor of centralized authority under his own office of disciplinary counsel.

Too bad he couldn’t leave well enough alone and just sit on his laurels for defrocking Thomas. For stories that lionize and crown him in those laurels see “All Kinds of Horrible Things Happened’: Investigating the Biggest Ethical Misconduct Case in the Nation” and “Prosecutor on Trial: Ex-Maricopa County Attorney.” With such plaudits and press clippings, he just couldn’t resist bringing his bumptious beneficent benefactions to the Beaver State.

For balance and other perspectives on Gleason, read “Scott McInnis plagiarism scandal no big deal to attorney discipline czar” and “Why Colorado Attorneys Dont Have Spines” and particularly, “A Travesty of Justice in Colorado: Lawyer Suspended for A Year and A Day for WINNING His Client’s Case.”

As for where Gleason turns up next, who knows? Consigned to Colorado, he may just stay retired and look for a regular golf partner. Although as far as wanna-be Governor Thomas’s concerned, at least he’s not back in Arizona. But if he does return to the desert kookracy, guess who’s hoping will have the last laugh?

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Photo Credits: Jan Brewer – the Guard, by DonkeyHotey at Flickr via Creative Commons-license requiring attribution;Mr Schadenfreude, by Duncan Hull at Flickr via Creative Commons-license requiring attribution.

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