Texas Says No

     It’s not all about sex.
     Sometimes it seems like it and sometimes it should be, but it’s not.
     Much has been made – well, maybe not much, but a little has been made – of the lawyers in Texas voting against an ethics rule change barring sex with clients unless they’d had sex with the clients before they became clients.
     The vote was part of a referendum on a bunch of amendments to the rules of conduct for lawyers in Texas. It’s not entirely clear to me why there was a referendum at all because the state Supreme Court gets to decide on the rules, but, apparently, a committee had been working on the changes since 2003 and they wanted the Texas legal community to see their work product.
     It was not a good idea.
     Take a look at the proposed rules and commentary on them.
     See what I mean?
     It’s 76 pages!
     It goes on and on and on.
     You don’t even get to the sex thing until page 33.
     Here’s just one sentence from the commentary under the sex rule: “The addition of ‘personally’ in the Rule does not alter the meaning of the term ‘represents’; instead, it is intended both to emphasize and to clarify that paragraph (c) applies to any lawyer who is actually involved in rendering legal services to the client.”
     Aren’t you glad they cleared that up?
     I would have voted no without even reading the thing – and I’m guessing a lot of Texas lawyers did just that.
     Actually, the conflict of interest rules got more no votes than the sex rule. There are an awful lot of lawyers out there who look at their clients and don’t want to have sex with them.
     If you’re a lawyer, conjure mental images of each of your clients to see what I mean. If you do want to have sex with most of them, I want to know what kind of law you’re practicing. Then I want to know if you have any openings at your firm.
     
     SEX CAN BE GOOD. There is something to be said for buying drugs and hanging out with strippers.
     I’m not sure what should be said, but contrast sex and drugs with being a judge. Go ahead, do it.
     Now here’s my question: if a judge does a good job on the bench, should we care whether he’s kind enough to buy cocaine for his mistress?
     This is not an idle question.
     OK, I lied. It is an idle question, but I came up with it after reading a sentencing memorandum submitted by lawyers from three different law firms on behalf of a guy who was a senior federal judge in Georgia until he got arrested after buying drugs from an undercover agent last fall.
     According to the memorandum, the judge was not only a wonderful human being, but his family, friends, and colleagues were all shocked – SHOCKED! – that this had happened.
     I suppose that’s possible, but then the memorandum goes on at some length about how the judge had bipolar disorder since at least 1999, suffered brain damage in 2000 in a bicycle accident, had a dying sister and a mother suffering from dementia, and, yes, grew up with an alcoholic and abusive father.
     It’s a wonder the man functioned at all. And that no one noticed any problems until the hooker thing.
     Hmmm.
     So, apparently, a federal judge can go through one horrible crisis after another and suffer from mental problems for a decade and stay on the bench. But catch him with a stripper and he’s history.
     I wonder what lawyers in Texas would have to say about this.

%d bloggers like this: