Sunday, December 31, 2017

Sometimes Lawyers Do Speak Out

I have tried to be clear that I do not consider lawyers bad. Considering an individual bad because of their profession is no different than considering someone bad due to their race, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, attractiveness, height, wealth, intelligence, etc.  It basically just proves that you are prejudiced and not such a good person yourself. 

Clearly there are good lawyers.

A few years ago someone on the legal site Arvo asked how to disqualify a corrupt judge. The person who asked the question was pretty much attacked by most the lawyers who responded.

Here is how one lawyer replied:
We all run into this all the time. The Judge is corrupt because you disagree with his rulings. You disagree with his rulings because he's corrupt. 
A classic example of victim blaming.

Yet one lawyer, Christine C McCall, gave a really interesting response.
I understand your frustration -- and your condemnation. I have seen things in California family law courts that would leave the judicial officers in the criminal courts down the hall with their mouths agape. I have seen conduct by family law judges in Los Angeles Superior Courts that makes me physically ill (usually at the expense of pro pers) and ashamed of the legal profession. And I have seen such conduct repeatedly and in circumstances where it is plain that it is not unusual but is business as usual -- by multiple judges, not just one dubious apple in the barrel. And I have been shocked at the meek acquiescence of the legal counsel in those matters (who undoubtedly appear before the same courts regularly).
What I will tell you based on these first-hand experiences is that the conduct that is so loathsome and objectionable is not "corrupt" by the legal (or judicial administration) definitions.
And I will tell you that our legislature has wrongfully allowed family law courts entirely too much discretion on too many matters, making "lawful" and legally permissible these dubious and morally questionable exercises of judicial discretion. And our appellate courts have by their inaction caused these judges to feel uninhibited and un-constrained by any real risk of public correction or professional disapproval. Both of those "points" on the wheel of the legal system need to wake up and smell the sewage.
But in truth, the system for administering marital law may be broken beyond all administrative and legislative fixing. It may be so far gone (or long past that point) that the public must reconsider whether marital matters and their issues would be better removed altogether from the court system. It may be that ANY other method or place -- including tossing coins and reading cow entrails -- would be a meaningful improvement in how we resolve these painful and critical problems.
A day of observation in LASC family court is an unforgettable experience, morally shocking and professionally demoralizing, and the parties who are so badly served there cannot be blamed for deducing that "corruption" is at work. "Corruption" might be less morally troubling -- and less damaging to the body politic -- than the manifest fact of systemic failure and betrayal.
FWIW: I don't practice family law, and I am not a victim of what I give witness to here.
Wow! Possibly Ms. McCall felt emboldened to comment honestly due to the fact that she is now retired so she couldn't be as easily retaliated against. But even if so, her honesty is quite refreshing to someone who has gone through what I have.

Tonight is New Years Eve. I will raise my glass to Christine McCall wherever you are.

As a side note, there is one thing you should know about Arvo if you ever want to use it as a resource. Lawyers have the ability to quite easily remove negative comments. At one time Nelly Wince had several negative comments. They were all removed. Her listing now states that she has not been reviewed yet.

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