Friday, June 3, 2016
Judgment By Social Media and Tweeted "Expertise" - Three Cases From The Cincinnati Zoo, The Forests of Japan, and Amber Heard's Marriage
As lawyers we oftentimes have to suspend our personal judgment of our clients, their choices and their circumstances. As clinicians we regularly train and remind our students on this suspension. Not only does this suspension preserve rapport, but it also allows for better representation of the person, as we just have to take them for who they are, not who we think they should be. Best practices and professional rules also remind us of client-centered representation, directing that choices are the client's choices and not ours, and that's its not all about us. Professionally this suspension of judgment can be a struggle - as a lawyer you may know "what's right" or "what's best" but the client chooses otherwise. And we must accept that.
If only we as a society were charged with this suspension of judgment - but as anyone can tell from the news this week, people are quick to judge others, and their choices, and proffer various social media statements to tout their judgment and expertise. (Ironically we also have a process for declaring and establishing expertise in the legal field, via our rules of evidence, which Twitter appears not to follow). Anyone can judge or be an expert in social media - just take a look at this week's fodder:
1) The Death of Harambe: Let's face it. Everyone loses in this situation. If the zoo didn't kill the gorilla, the child might have died and folks would be standing outside the exhibit with candles and posters in memoriam of the boy. Instead the zoo kills the gorilla, and even though they saved a child, someone must be to blame - distracting iPhones, parents, zoo architecture - you name it. Mom apparently is an administrator at a preschool, leading many to now call for her resignation. Because the two go hand in hand.
2) Abandonment in Hokkaido: To leave or not to leave a seven year old boy on the side of a mountain road in deep bear country forest for throwing stones? That was the question. Parent's call? To leave. Is it neglect or within the boundaries of discipline? You decide. Everyone else is.
3) Let's all kick Amber Heard while she's down: Maybe, in a couple of weeks, we will forget doing so, just like her husband allegedly did. It's times like these that make those us of doing domestic violence work cringe. Who is Amber Heard? If you hadn't heard of her (no pun intended) you certainly have now. Heard is the much younger wife of actor Johnny Depp who filed for, and was granted, a restraining order against him. Various photos of her with injuries have emerged, injuries that were allegedly caused by Depp - but where does the public support lie? Mainly with Depp. Why? Because it's her fault, of course, that this happened. She "exacerbates Depp's 'jealousy issues'" as allegedly Depp is incredibly insecure about her. She's also just in it for the money apparently, there being no prenuptial agreement and their divorce filed in California (the laws in California entitling her to fifty percent of what he has made during the marriage). Lastly, her bringing these issues out publicly just confirms that their marriage, and her involvement in it, have just been "nonstop drama".
As lawyers we have standards for these sorts of judgments and admissible statements. We also have a saying, "innocent until proven guilty". Yet as social media shows us time and time again, judgement is swift, fleeting and generally contained within 140 characters. Perhaps we should remind ourselves that #glasshousesarefullofhotair.
Tuesday, February 10, 2015
In May, the movie Noble will open; it is a biography of Christina Noble, Irish children's rights activist. In advance of the debut, the producers solicited stories from women doing courageous work.
Prof. Brittany Stringfellow-Otey received a nomination. Here is her profile.
These are my favorite quotes from my colleague and friend:
“My goal is for poverty to bother you for the rest of your life . . . I don’t want you to be able to walk the block to your office and not be completely troubled by those asking for money or suffering from addiction. I want you to do something about it, with your time and resources.”
“I want to be an old lady working on skid row. I will always be here.”
Wednesday, August 6, 2014
If you are like me, summers go way too fast. One of the challenges of being a clinician is that your summers are more often than not filled with roll-over cases/students, summer classes, externships, and miscellaneous writing/vacations/activities. Sooner than we know, it is fall semester again, and we are once again faced with new students, new cases, new challenges and an impetus to energize ourselves and our curriculum. As I am not quite ready to face that yet, and others of you might feel similarly, I thought I would post a distraction instead, to get us through the remainder of summer. My summer ends in 11 days, and I plan on making the most of it!
It's around this time of year that I take a few minutes at work to recycle, clean my office, water my neglected plants and look for new office decorations to get me through another academic year. Some of my favorite works are by an artist called Brandon Bird. Brandon gained a decent reputation when he developed a Law and Order Coloring Book several years ago, which if you haven't seen it, is available here and offers up a few chuckles: http://brandonbird.com/lno_color.html. As further incentive, it contains a dot-to-dot of the cop character Lenny Briscoe, which is always useful on a day you need something to procrastinate with.
My most recent work purchase is a print called "A Night Away" (image below from http://brandonbird.com/lno_camping.html). I like it for its subtlety and because students usually do a triple take once they see the print. And because, let's be honest, sometimes we all just need a night away. Even Lenny Briscoe and Jack McCoy.
Here's to all of us having a good rest of our summer and a fresh start to the new academic year. May your offices be free of clutter, files neatly organized, withdrawals all granted and classes all prepped. Best wishes for Academic Year 2014-15!