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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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John Lennon was right. “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.” Not long after I ate a couple of yellow nectarines yesterday afternoon, I got a robocall. It was from the big box store where I’d purchased the fruit. 

The automated voice told me to return the nectarines I’d just eaten. There was a voluntary recall over potential Listeria monocytogenes contamination. Regurgitation no longer an option, timing is everything. But what the . . . . ?

So knock on wood. And thankfully, no symptoms. Yet it’s come to this. Time to nix the nectarines and the burritos around here.

Happy news.

But forget the bad news for now. Let’s make happy talk instead. Out of New York City and London, I read about a new confidence builder. It’s the ‘shiney-hiney,’ also known as the “butt facial.” And according to the news report in The Week, it’s offered this summer by enterprising dermatologists in both cities.

The fanny facial is “a combination of exfoliating peels, lasers, and moisturizers to smooth the skin on the buttocks and minimize dark spots, zits, and cellulite.One client quoted for the news story said, “before I tried the booty facial, I wasn’t as confident as I am now.”

So no kidding, a confidence builder! Could it be the next self-assurance tool before heading to court? Also see “A new take on glowing ‘cheeks'”

Unhappily, I don’t know of any dermatologists offering keister cleansing spa treatments in Arizona’s nether regions. Then again, except for those supposed confidence-building properties, around here all 4 cheeks get plenty pink without dermatological exfoliation thanks to Arizona’s hot and sweaty six-month summer.

Confident construction.

Besides, who needs confidence building here? Not, for instance, ASU’s law school leadership. Why those folks are just dripping with confidence. Despite reports of “shrinking law schools facing financial devastation,” Monday’s Arizona Republic newspaper puff-pieced ‘happy news’ about the start of construction of ASU’s ballyhooed new $129 million downtown law school. The story read like an ASU press release.

Don’t blame the nectarines but after reading, I didn’t know whether to gag or spit. Despite continuing historic lows in the number of law school admissions test-takers “a record low going back to June 2000″ as reported this week by The Law School Tuition Bubble, “it’s damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead.” While other law schools are “paring back,”  ASU’s law school cognoscenti must be eating not reading their tea leaves. And the local paper appears to be riding shotgun in the same clown car with the law school’s dean. Good thing there’s plenty of room.

In a 2012 interview about the state of legal education, law school dean Doug Sylvester happy-talked, “I don’t think we’re in crisis.”  So why not keep betting on the come? See “Law schools imperiled but insiders keep ignoring the changing tide.Also see “Law school applications down 37 percent since 2010; first-year class could be smallest in 40 years.”

But it’s nice he’s putting the OPM — other people’s money — where his mouth is and blithely proceeding apace. Per the paper, “The law school’s dean, Douglas Sylvester, is so enthused, several times a day he pulls up a webcam on his computer that shows an aerial view of construction.”

Lawyer glut? Too much law school capacity? No worries. Sylvester thinks all that extra space at his expanded new digs — at least for now won’t mean adding more students onto a glutted legal marketplace. He’s keeping enrollments the same.

But it’ll be just dandy for adding two think-tanks; housing a law school sponsored law firm for otherwise out-of-work alumni; for offering more continuing legal education; and of course, for expanding “the degree referred to by critics as a “cash cow”, the LLM, the Master of Laws degree.

The LLM is the graduate degree popularly derided as “Lawyers Losing Money.” Writes Bryce Wilson Stucki at The American Prospect, “To critics, the degree is little more than a scam making extra cash from attorneys desperate to burnish their credentials in a brutal legal job market.” Also see “Inside the Law School Scam: LLM programsand for a much more acerbic take, see “LLM Programs are “Popular” Due to Desperation Among Recent Unemployed J.D.s”

Money in HandOf that Master of Laws Degree, George Leef at ForbesLaw Schools Peer Into The Abyss But The American Bar Association Blocks Serious Change,” also echoes the critics who think it’s the “Next scam: Law schools start “nonprofit” law firms that hire their own graduates, thus boosting their U.S. News rankings by ensuring their grads have jobs while letting their students get out from under debt in half the time. Plus, faculty can have high-paying side jobs managing things at the “nonprofit.””

So while another law school cuts faculty and staff jobs and halts first year classes to belatedly confront plunging law school enrollments, another expands and leverages its profit centers.

Growth for growth’s sake.

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File:Laughing Fool.jpgLike Cher, Article III federal judges answer only to themselves and to God — assuming, that is, they aren’t atheists — otherwise they’re not answering to the Almighty either.

Which leads me to question why given how untouchable they are, some folks, granted mostly lawyers are nonetheless so exercised over Federal Judge Richard Kopf having told the U.S. Supreme Court it should ‘STFU.” One nose-out-of-joint conservative law school professor was so peeved at Judge Kopf he even went for the cheap ad hominem and called him “dummKopf.” I hope Steve Bainbridge doesn’t really think he’s the clever first one to think up that pun when he ranted it was the judge who should STFU.

The 68-year old Judge Kopf is retired but on senior status since December 1, 2011. This means he’s working at-large as a judge but assigned to any inferior federal court while receiving his retirement salary.

Hercules and the umpire.

But besides working as a senior justice, he also has a personal blog called “Hercules and the umpire” where he waxes either eloquent or inappropriate depending on your sociopolitical point of view.

Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s latest controversial decision involving a closely-held corporation’s personhood and its attendant religious beliefs concerning Obamacare-mandated contraceptives in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., the very opinionated Judge Kopf invoked the acronym, STFU, to argue the nation’s high court is “causing more harm (division) to our democracy than good by deciding hot button cases that the Court has the power to avoid.” But it was that acronym that got people’s underwear in an uncomfortable bunch.

For the uninitiated, STFU is simply short-hand for shut the F-bomb up. Oh, my, that a judge would deign to use such language? At least it wasn’t in any judicial opinion.

Cebull didn’t blog.

http://lawmrh.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/judge-cebull.jpg?w=181&h=203Maybe if the now retired 70-year old Federal Judge Richard Cebull had blogged instead of emailing on his office computer, he might’ve kept his racist robes and his own senior status another day? Just kidding.

You’ll recall an investigation by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Judicial Council revealed Judge Cebull had sent hundreds of “racist, sexist and politically inflammatory” e-mail messages over four years while serving as a federal judge in Montana. Parenthetically, Native American advocacy groups are still petitioning to see all the ex-judge’s racist emails but the 9th Circuit keeps saying ‘No.’ They’re supposedly confidential. Oh well, at least they’re just ‘secret’ and not ‘lost’ like Lois Lerner’s missing IRS emails.

“Dirty old man.”

http://static.someecards.com/someecards/usercards/MjAxMi01Y2Q5Y2I1MGRhMzg5M2Yw.pngIt’s not like Judge Kopf hasn’t been here before. A self-described “dirty old man ever since I was a very young man,” he got people worked up just a few months ago when he posted “On being a dirty old man and how young women lawyers dress.”

In that post, he wrote “I have three rules that young women lawyers should follow when considering how to dress for court: 1. You can’t win. Men are both pigs and prudes. Get over it. 2. It is not about you. That goes double when you are appearing in front of a jury. 3. Think about the female law clerks. If they are likely to label you, like Jane Curtin, an ignorant slut behind your back, tone it down.”

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/a/a9/Hans_Conried_Uncle_Tonoose_Danny_Thomas_Show_1959.JPG/363px-Hans_Conried_Uncle_Tonoose_Danny_Thomas_Show_1959.JPGFilters? What filters?

Let me first inoculate myself against accusations of ageist stereotyping. I’m well past my middle-earlies. That said, perhaps age should at least, be discussed here.

Besides our own anecdotal evidence about crazy uncles ruining holidays “with outlandish behavior and boorish opinions,” studies support what some of us have long suspected, aging brains not only drive forgetfulness but blunt behavior.

In one study, “Aging, Executive Functioning, and Social Control,” researcher William von Hippel found that physiological changes such as aging-related atrophy of the brain’s frontal lobes, which he calls “the seat of executive functions” are associated with “age-related inhibitory losses.” This can lead to unvarnished prejudice, “off-target verbosity” and “socially inappropriate remarks.” For an unscholarly, inelegant take on the same topic, also see “Old People Saying Shit They Should Not.

Any wonder that 75-year old Federal Judge Richard Posner recommends judges after 70 be required to takea test of mental acuity every five years.”

Judge Robert Malcolm Kerr of whom it was said, “He administers a kind of rough and ready justice that irritates many and pleases few.”

But when it comes to the berobed, the combination of age-related inhibitory deficits with hubristic-minded ‘black robe disease’ also called “Judge-Itis” — why that’s downright pyrotechnic. In some quarters, judge-itis has morphed into Judge Judy-fication. For examples, remember King County, Washington’s real-life Judge Judy Eiler or the very recent Brevard County Florida Brawling Judge John Murphy. As historian Barbara Tuchman said, “A greater inducement to folly is an excess of power.”

So if media-celebrated ‘no nonsense’ ‘tough-talkers’ on the bench can gloss over Model Code of Judicial Conduct Canon 2’s sub paragraphs on courtroom decorum and demeanor, why can’t judges with personal blogs?

“Everyone was thinking it, I just said it.”

Not to say that 60-somethings and older have cornered inhibitory deficits. Take San Diego California’s Judge DeAnn Salcido, a member of Generation X who was reprimanded for using her courtroom to create audition tapes for a Judge Judy-style television show.

http://lawmrh.files.wordpress.com/2014/07/e15ef-filter.jpg?w=327&h=227Unabashed, she said, “I have a big mouth. I don’t know when to be quiet. I’m telling you everything I know. That’s just the way it’s going to be. I don’t know how to change that. It’s a defect in my personality.” Methinks she needs a blog, too.

And then over the weekend, I finally had enough. I’d been following an anonymous Millenial and once-upon-a-time wanna-be lawyer turned author/blogger. I once thought his blog was refreshingly funny even with all the profligate F-bombs. But then his profane posts kept crossing the line from witty real-world impertinence to nasty hyperbolic meanness. And after reading his last post describing what he’d be willing to do if someone paid off all his student debt, I finally said “No mas” and unfollowed.

No filters.

So when it comes to blurting out whatever pops in your head regardless of the consequences, I’m now inclined to think age is irrelevant. As a society, thanks to social media, online anonymity and no-longer-taught etiquette, we have no filters.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/7/72/The_Wounded_Angel_-_Hugo_Simberg.jpg/298px-The_Wounded_Angel_-_Hugo_Simberg.jpgWhich gets me back to Judge Kopf. In his latest post, “Please stop,” the blogging judge says he’s reconsidering his blog after all the fallout from his STFU post. In his post, he reprints a communication received from a Nebraska lawyer who he says has his “highest respect.” In his missive, the lawyer appeals idealistically to Judge Kopf’s ‘better angels of our nature’ and asks him to stop blogging — lest it bring discredit on the public’s understanding of the judicial system.

But from my quick unscientific review of the comments to this post, it seems most readers favor his continued blogging. So as Judge Kopf contemplates what he’s going to do, not to worry. It’s not like public confidence in the Supreme Court isn’t already at a historic low or that judicial irreverence means the public will think as Dickens’ Mr. Bumble did that “the law is an ass.” I think he should keep blogging.

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Photo Credits: Laughing Fool, source http://www.wellesley.edu/DavisMuseum/collections/provenance_research.htm at Wikipedia Commons, public domain;American magazine ad for the film Hercules (1959), HerculesMagazine.jpg, Wikimedia Commons, public domain;Hans Conried as Uncle Tonoose, Wikimedia Commons, public domain;Robert Malcolm Kerr, Vanity Fair, 1900-11-22m Wikimedia Commons,Public Domain; The Wounded Angel,Hugo Simberg, Wikimedia Commons, public domain.


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I love juxtapositions. It’s an odd personality trait. Or maybe, it’s the heat. Or it’s niggling sleep deprivation now that I’m up earlier than usual — before 4:30 AM to walk our dogs before the summer sun scorches paws and dehydrates lolling tongues. It clears 90°F before 8 AM.

Take, for instance, my frequent lumping together of ‘Old Skool’ rhythm and blues with otherwise unrelated substantive topics. Regular readers know, for example, I especially like Old Skool’ Riffing on Godfather of Soul James Brown.

So when news hit that Brevard County Florida Judge John C. Murphy was back but handling civil cases after less than 30 days of paid vacation leave for reportedly scuffling outside his courtroom with Assistant Public Defender Andrew Weinstock, you’ll understand why “Get Up Offa That Thing” started playing in my head. However, I’ll admit that this particular jurist doesn’t strike me as someone who’d channel Soul Brother No. 1‘s happy “I’m back! I’m back!” refrain.

Brawl in Brevard.

You remember the “Stop pissing me off . . . if you want to fight, let’s go out back”  ‘Brawl in Brevard.’ That’s when after ripping the public defender a new one in his court, Judge Murphy irascibly took matters out to the hallway for a more serious heart-to-heart with the surprisingly unintimidated Andrew Weinstock.

I prognosticated then, “I don’t expect much to happen to Judge Murphy.” So he’s back already. Also see “Judge who hit public defender returns to bench, less than a month later.”

People 7442Sure the Judicial Qualifications Commission reportedly opened an investigation. But seeing how the wagons have already circled around Judge Murphy, I still predict, if anything, the gentlest of admonitions. Besides, according to news reports, no criminal charges were filed in the incident.

 

Boy with his hands on his face uidOpen Letter Contrition — but not for all.

In an open letter released “To the Residents of Brevard County,” Judge Murphy has moved to put the embarrassing episode behind him. “I am happy and relieved to be back at work serving the people of Brevard County and I thank [Chief Justice] Judge Harris for his support and the confidence he has shown to me,” he wrote.

Not to worry, I guess, if the Judicial Qualifications Commission happens to make a probable cause determination and the whole thing’s sent for adjudication to supportive Chief Justice Harris and the Florida Supreme Court.

In his letter, Judge Murphy expressed “regret” for his actions. And he “committed to continuing personal improvement” and to “win back” public trust and confidence. He offered “my personal apology” to each of his 18th Judicial Circuit colleagues and to “judges everywhere.” Curiously, he made no mention of Weinstock, the object of his ire, nor did he apologize to him. But at least he left out the standard non-apology apology.

Yet as the New York Times reported a few days ago, voters can expect more judicial contrition in Florida. See “Here Comes the Judge, in Cuffs – In Broward County, Fla., Spate of Judges in D.U.I. Arrests.” Yeah, I know — let he who is without sin hide behind the nearest rock pile.

Dominick/Flickr

And to reassure the county electorate that he hopes will again reelect him, Judge Murphy also added, “I seek to ensure that this sort of unacceptable behavior will never happen again.” The words “seek to ensure” reminded me of that scene from “The Outlaw Josey Wales.” It was where Dan George as Lone Watie described his visit with the other Chiefs of the Five Civilized Tribes to the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary nonsensically tells them “Endeavor to persevere.” I imagine the judge will likewise “endeavor to persevere” not to spar, biff, or poke public defenders on premises.

1158073_paper_emotions_-_hateNot the last angry man.

To assist those aspirations, while on his taxpayer-paid leave, Judge Murphy took part in a favorite bureaucratic fix — anger management. The courts may not have them but I have my doubts about anger management programs and whether they even work.

Of anger management classes, the Health Journal at the Wall Street Journal said, “It’s not clear if the programs work, as few studies have analyzed their effectiveness. There are no licensing requirements for anger-management trainers — anyone can open a business. And since participants don’t usually sign up voluntarily, trainers say it’s possible to complete a program without changing one’s behavior.” Also see NPR’s “The Anger Management Industry – Calming Courses on the Rise, But Do They Work?”

Now really, is there such a thing as curing a propensity to be an angry jerk? Or can counseling graft a nice personality on an overbearing putz? Or can it fix what one blogger hilariously calls HUAD – Head Up Ass Disorder?

Take, for example, that serial biting soccer footballer Luis Suarez who after two previous biting incidents during a game was recommended anger management treatment. Suarez’s now up to three bites with the latest administered on an Italian Player at the current World Cup. He’s been fined and banned for 4 months. Still the psychologists keep recommending anger management instead of bicuspid restraints.

http://media-cache-ec0.pinimg.com/736x/5f/e6/84/5fe684ecb7261693a426fe41022db7c1.jpg

Fortunately, even if anger management doesn’t work, there’s always Dr. Seuss. How about carrying around “Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are?” in your pocket?

Truthfully, when it comes down to it, some people just don’t have the requisite people skills, civility and infinite patience to handle life stresses.

I’m all for reinvention — but as Clint said, “A Man’s Got to Know his Limitations.” If you can’t handle on-the-job anger, find another line of work.

Which to conclude, of course, reminds me of another ‘Old Skool’ golden oldie ditty.

It’s from my East Los Angeles Barrio days: “Are you angry?” So when all else fails — there’s always a song.

 


Photo Credits: James Brown Live Hamburg 1973 by Heinrich Klaffs Heinrich Klaffs – at Wikipedia Commons, originally posted to Flickr as James Brown Live 1702730029; Pin by Debbi Kassin on Anger Management & Conflict Resolution Dr. Seuss, Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are?

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academic,dunce caps,dunces,hats,stoolsI’d meant to post about Arizona escaping the list of this year’s “Top 10 Dumbest States in America,” especially since my former home state of Nevada is an ignominious recidivist on the list.

 1) West Virginia

 2) Arkansas

 3) Mississippi

 4) Kentucky

5) Louisiana

6) Nevada

7) Alabama

8) Indiana

9) Oklahoma

10) Tennessee

And while I don’t put much stock in the ranking methodology, all the same I’m flummoxed at how Arizona dropped out. Just three years ago, Arizona sat at the pole position of America’s “Dumbest States.”

File:A-voluptuary.jpgThen again, dumb state or not some of you will think me cerebrally well-placed to live here since I was out golfing this past Saturday and Sunday when it was 100-plus outside. For some of you, this qualifies as dumb if not insane. And no matter those were days 7 and 8 on our consecutive day hit parade of triple-digit temperatures here with no relief in sight.

But this is par for June. Usually the hottest month in Satan’s nether region, it’s also just the start of our summertime ‘comfort zone’ in Arizona. You either go out into the inferno or you stay home, sort your sock drawer, and gaze at your navel.

And while I’m still planning on giving the local state bar another well-earned $3 hair cut, that post can keep. Instead, for all my friendly procrastinators waiting once again with under three weeks to spare before their annual June 30th fiscal year CLE deadline, here again is my now traditional fiscal year FREE CLE public service.

With the usual disclaimers about content quality, continued availability and jurisdictional credit-worthiness, find the following FREE CLE:

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 ASU LAW CLE – PAY WHAT YOU WANT CLE

On demand Pay What You Want CLE | ASU Law Continuing Legal Education

http://cle.asucollegeoflaw.com/voters-choice-cle-survey/#sthash.hrGrQ6KL.dpbs

I have little doubt the Continuing Legal Education Program at Arizona State University’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law is hoping very few, if anyone, takes them up on the “$0″ option, which is part of their current offer of CLE based on a “pay what you want option.” You choose from their list of OnDemand recorded seminars and register for the program. You then “enter the amount you would like to pay. The amount you pay is unlimited and you can enter as little as $0. Once registered, you’ll receive the video access information and can follow the instructions to receive interactive CLE credit!”

Of course, these are the same folks who lawyer-glut and back-breaking student school debts or not — have nonetheless shamelessly decided to move into a $120 million law school Taj Mahal in downtown Phoenix. According to the Arizona Republic, “in documents being presented to regents, ASU said the goal is to increase law-school enrollment and degrees by 50 percent.

Meantime, the straight-faced ASU law school dean says of the Pay What You Want CLE: “Of course, we hope that most will still contribute something for the CLE credits they will earn. All proceeds will go to scholarships that will help us recruit high quality students, attract students that might otherwise not be able to afford law school, and have our new graduates enter the workforce with less debt burden.” 

Of course, we hope that most will still contribute something for the CLE credits they will earn.  All proceeds will go to scholarships that will help us recruit high quality students, attract students that might otherwise not be able to afford law school, and have our new graduates enter the workforce with less debt burden.” – See more at: http://cle.asucollegeoflaw.com/ondemand-pay-what-you-want-cle/#sthash.HZdrdunJ.dpuf

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ROCKET MATTER

Click here to go to online seminars

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