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January 21, 2019

Sometimes it doesn’t pay to do your job the way you’re supposed to. A lot of employers just don’t like a goody two shoes.

Milt Policzer

By Milt Policzer

Courthouse News columnist; racehorse owner and breeder; one of those guys who always got picked last.

Sometimes it doesn’t pay to do your job the way you’re supposed to. A lot of employers just don’t like a goody two shoes.

(Side note: Is “goody two shoes” an ancient term that you youngsters out there don’t understand? If so, go look it up.)

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit last week provided a weird example of this concept in a case called Anderson v. Valdez, that begins with this sentence: “Bruce Anderson’s job required an oath to report judicial misconduct.”

So he did. Unfortunately, the alleged misconduct was by the chief justice of a court of appeals in Texas, and Anderson was later turned down for another job. It’s not entirely clear, but that might have been because the chief justice was annoyed about the reporting that was part of Anderson’s job.

The Fifth Circuit panel ruled — go read it if you don’t believe me — that Anderson had no case for retaliation because his report was part of his job so he could be disciplined for it, even though he was supposed to do it.

If he had not properly done his job, he would have been fine.

It gets weirder. In a strange echoing of events on the national level, we’re also told that another judge at that appeals court decided not to report the chief justice because “it would look too political.”

Apparently, the political thing to do is nothing. Otherwise you seem political.

It’s a wonder anyone gets prosecuted for anything.

There are some lessons here, but I’m not sure I want to learn them.

And now for an example of how bad behavior is rewarded, check out an Ohio federal judge’s ruling last week in favor of a high school football coach. Key passage: “(Defendant) ‘called everybody a pussy.’ (He) doled out his insults on an equal-opportunity basis: he spray-shot his name-calling at anyone, not focusing only on Lininger. His words did not single out Lininger for unique, observable, gender non-conforming characteristics.”

You don’t discriminate if you’re mean to everyone.

Old age? I don’t know if it’s too much screen time or stress on the job, but I may be turning into a dog. I’m kind of fidgety, easily distracted, and I’m grumpy if I haven’t been fed.

I didn’t realize any of this until the other day when I was going through my daily ritual of deleting most of my email. Then I spotted a message from the Northwestern Alumni Association with this subject line: “The Squirrels of Northwestern.”


I kept and opened the email. There was lots of stuff in it but only one small item about a guy tweeting about squirrels on campus.

Yes, I was sorely disappointed, but there’s a marketing lesson here: Squirrels!

Cats and dogs will probably do the trick too if you want to get attention.

Categories / Op-Ed

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