Thursday, June 10, 2010

Salt Lake City Weekly: Censored by the Bar

The Utah State Bar proposes to effectively put a muzzle on legal practitioner whistleblowers

Eye opening story this morning's Salt Lake City Weekly, touching upon a topic that's near and dear to our Weber County Forum hearts, Utah "Cash Cow" Justice Courts. Here's the lede:
City Weekly, recently reported how the Utah State Bar is considering a rule change that could mean conduct reprimands for lawyers who don’t defend the justice system in Utah. Even prior to the rule proposal one attorney was cited for unprofessional conduct for criticizing justice courts in a recent article.
Charles Schultz, attorney cited in CW's March article "Box Elder’s Broken Court” was reprimanded for conduct “prejudicial to the administration of justice.” His quotes for the article in reference to justice courts were: “To use the term ‘justice’ for these courts is a joke.” In reference to Judge Kevin Christensen mentioned in the story Schultz was quoted as saying that he “routinely fails to advise [defendant’s] of their rights. It’s a complete power trip for him.”
Read the full article here:
Censored by the Bar
Although it's been quite a long while since we last railed on the topic of justice courts, we're delighted to observe CW's recent devotion to the subject. In that connection, here are a few other recent CW articles which we'll suggest for our WCF readers' Thursday reading lists:
Don't talk smack on justice!
Box Elder County's Broken Court
Nickled & Dimed by Utah's Justice Courts Page
Specifically, some at the Utah State Bar seem to believe that a couple of Utah legal practitioner/whistleblowers have been a mite too publicly outspoken and vocal, and that it's time to shut them up:
Rules of Professional Conduct (Proposed Summary)
RPC 08.02. Judicial Officers. Amend. Prohibits knowingly making a false
statement about the judicial system. Encourages lawyers to defend the
judicial system.
Sounds vague and ambiguous to us, and inimicable to the First Amendment too. And who gets to decide when a statement about the judicial system is "knowingly false," we ask?

Case in point. This statement is attributed to attorney Charles Schultz: “To use the term ‘justice’ for these courts is a joke.” How in the hell, we ask, could anyone decide whether this statement is "knowingly false"?

And although it's probably laudable to "encourage" practicing lawyers to defend the legal system when it works, isn't there a commensurate duty on the part of
officers of the court to blow the whistle in instances where the system appears to be broken? See what we mean? It's more than slightly nuanced.

The lumpencitizens of Utah have a strong public interest in being informed of problems in our courts system. Remember people. We citizens are called upon at regular intervals to vote on judical retention. And what will happen,
we wonder, to our citizen judicial retention oversight, if strong voices like Mike Martinez and Charles Schultz are intimidated into silence by this new, vague and ambiguous disciplinary rule?

We're hoping against hope that this new proposed amendment to the Utah Rules of Professional Conduct will quickly find it's way the the State Bar trashcan. The chilling effect of a rule like this is disheartening in America, to say the least.

And what say our gentle readers about all this?


Curmudgeon said...

That this proposed throttling of the free speech rights of lawyers comes from the Utah State Bar is (a) appalling and (b) not surprising. I'd hope the Utah State Bar would be mortified by having such a regulation even proposed by one of their number, but looking for something that can embarrass organization that would seriously consider such a rule is like looking for something capable of embarrassing the Utah Realtors Association. Happy hunting.

Livin' Under the Utah Taliban said...

Hey Rudi! This ain't America!

It's all about the Utah Taliban up here in Rocky Mountains:

"... a land not to far away, where all parents are strong and wise and capable, and all "children" are happy and beloved.

Don't know... Maybe it was Utah.

Maurice Abravenel said...

Theme Music, please, please Music Master Maestro Rudi!

Danny said...

In a free society, you shouldn't have to have a license to practice or produce anything. If a customer wishes to buy a service from somebody with a license, fine, but is should be entirely up to the customer.

The way it is now, lawyers, doctors, drug companies, and lots of other "professional" organizations are government sponsored cartels. They exist solely to give themselves monopolistic power, including pricing power.

The Utah Bar, like every Bar, and every Medical Association is a cartel. Why should we be surprised if they act like one, since they always do, for that is their purpose?

Contractor said...

Danny, Danny, Danny...
The idea: you hiring a electrical scab to upgrade your electrical service ind installation, and then you selling the home to someone who naturally assumes that the hidden behind the wall wiring is done correctly, who then does a room addition, again assuming that the previous work was done correctly, because you are not going to tear the walls out of every purchased home to see if work was done to code...
And then the fire occurs, and needless deaths, lawsuits, and idiocy.

This scenario is endlessly adjustable to fit a hundred or more trades, professions, and situations.

Your idea of a "free society" is only taken seriously during "late-night drunken-freshman discussion hour".

Building codes, professional licences and guilds, are the product of 750 years of western free societies voting away stupid anarchy ideas such as you profess to above.

Grow up.

Danny said...


In a truly free society, you can build a house that is certified with licensed contractors, and inspected, or not.

The person can decide whether to buy licensed and inspected or not.

If your licensed and inspected house is better, you should have no trouble selling it at the higher price.

But it should be the consumer's choice, not yours.

When you pay a doctor $75 to spend 5 minutes with you and write a prescription (permission slip) for an antibiotic or painkiller that you already knew you needed, or a lawyer $300 to press a button on his computer and print off a legal document, you can feel the pain on the other end.

Your hostile response indicates you fear the truth and wish to silence the debate quickly.

more tax dollars? said...

Deseret News has an article on their web site.

B.S. said...

Didnt Godfrey give a parking structure away last year to Marketstar? And now he wants the city to fund more parking? What a Crock.

Bitter Pill said...

I have no interest in re-hashing Hobbes, or to sit and explain to you why your selfish pipe-dream utopia would only work for an elite few, unless everyone on the entire planet was a saint.
Libertarian philosophy is untenable in the real world for so many reasons, it is best dismissed out-of-hand, unless you want to have a nonsense argument at 3 in the morning, full of "but what ifs".
Look it up in poli-sci textbooks if you want an argument, its in the books, and go argue with yourself, or some John Birch Society relic, or with someone who advocates Communism, an equally untenable system.

People need government to protect them, and you, against the likes of me and mine.
To cut to the chase, in a truly free society, I would own you. Period.

Curmudgeon said...

What's that old quip? "99% of lawyers give the rest a bad name."

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