Saturday, April 21, 2007
Interesting Inside Report From Hastings Law Student on Security Measures There: More on AutoAdmit Threat to Hastings
Posted by Alan Childress
After we posted this entry on the evacuation of UC Hastings in response to a perceived threat from AutoAdmit, a Hastings law student, Travis Hodgkins, posted this interesting comment on our blog, about current severe security measures on his campus. It is worth a read.
Travis also wondered whether the perp can redeem himself or herself before bar admission time and pass C&F screening. My own assessment is that this is very unlikely, in the current climate, at least without some massive rehabilitation and time delay before the character process is invoked (and even then...). Bar examiners simply do not hold applicants to the same standards that their state bars do in disciplining (or not) an already-licensed lawyer. Mike (with much more experience inside bar structures) and Jeff (with more worldly experience in practice than I) may see it differently, but my hunch (consistent with research) is that this student is toast for the bar. [UPDATE: See Mike's Admissions Ruminations, in the post above this one, which I puppetmastered him into with my prior sentence there.]
And I do recognize that, to his or her credit, the student came forward and fessed up -- and that some will say that this message by one "Trustafarian" was patently offensive but not a serious threat (the latter as another commenter does). Still, the school in fact evacuated. I doubt the C&F screeners will take seriously the student's own statements of intent and instead will use an objective test of how the message was perceived. If it had been ignored by Hastings (unlikely in the post-VT world and the scathing criticisms of its administration), maybe it would not be treated as a threat. But it was and, I think, that characterization is etched in stone and will not dissipate with time.
It was an awful lapse of judgment and maybe even worse -- I do not know -- but there is something sad if the reality is that some immature kid has thrown his or her life away with just one thoughtless comment on an "anonymous" message board. I have written before, in the context of "permanent disbarment," about the power of redemption and the need not to quit on people too soon. John Dean learned from Watergate, I noted. Travis's question left me, without knowing any more about the other facts and character surrounding "Trustafarian's" life, feeling sad.
I think my sadness is in part that I doubt that the bar examiners will really evaluate all the other stuff, good or bad, and that this foolish or awful prank (or serious threat) will stand alone as sufficient to mean this person can never be a lawyer. Even if he or she has learned more morality and consequences from this situation, in two days, than many lawyers learn in a lifetime. To me, that is not at all the saddest thing that happened this week, but it is sad and societally wasteful. More collateral damage.
Anyway, thanks for the thoughtful comments by Travis. I hope he will keep us posted on the aftermath at Hastings and what he hears from Boalt, either on his group's blog or in further comments to ours.