Va. Bar: “Public Reprimand” for Monica Goodling

As others and I have long argued, Monica Goodling engaged in professional misconduct while in the employ of former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. On March 14, 2011, the Fourth District Section II Subcommittee of the Virginia State Bar determined finally – and correctly, IMO – ruled that she did in fact “commit a criminal or deliberately wrongful act that reflects adversely on the lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness or fitness to practice law[.]” [Full determination by the Subcommittee can be read here.]

In spite of explicitly questioning her ‘honesty, trustworthiness or fitness to practice law,’ the Subcommittee then proceeded to slap Ms. Goodling on the wrist by Publicly Reprimanding her by merely stating in the order that “she is so reprimanded.” Ironically, the Subcommittee’s public reprimand determined that the terms of the public reprimand would not be made public. The Subcommittee was able to reach this result because, as they carefully noted, Mr. Goodling was never referred for criminal charges. Even though she testified to Congress that she violated federal law. Even though she asserted her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

At this point, Ms. Goodling should consider herself lucky that she still has her license to practice law. The question now is whether anyone is going to offer her a job – as an attorney.

h/t: Ryan J. Reilly at TPMMuckraker.

A plea for help.

I received this email from a blogger/acquaintance:

My dearest blogging friends,

I am trying to raise awareness for a friend who’s daughter has gone missing for over 3 years with no sign. If it is at all possible, I am trying to get this information cross-posted as many places as possible and I need your help. If you can, post it, if you can’t please pass it to someone that might.

http://buelahman.wordpress.com/2009/12/08/to-all-my-online-friends-a-desperate-plea-for-help-to-find-missing-kids/

I have never asked for such and may never again, but in this case, he is not getting help from the MSM or the law enforcement officials. If nothing else, Kristina needs to call home and tell them she is alive. If the news is the worse, they MUST know this. There is no rest for them.

My thanks to all who can help!

BuelahMan (aka Raymond)

ACTION ALERT: Support the Bar Ethics Grievance Filed Against Sen. Vitter

The Louisiana State Bar Association has finally received an ethics complaint regarding the allegations, many of which he has admitted, that Sen. David Vitter engaged in multiple instances of adulterous and criminal conduct.  Charlie Melancon, who is challenging Sen. Vitter in Louisiana’s 2010 U.S. Senate race, notes his frustration with the lack of accountability Sen. Vitter has faced to date for this conduct as well as the hope that the complaint will force at least a minimal level of accountability:

…[W]hat David Vitter confessed to wasn’t just a “serious sin,” it was likely a crime. And so far Vitter hasn’t been charged with anything. He’s still got his law license. He’s still a U.S. Senator.

A man’s sin is his own, and with this complaint Vitter may finally have to answer for his actions. Louisiana Politics: CREW, Vitter, Melancon, Jindal, Stephen Sabludowsky, September 30, 2009.

The complaint (with exhibits) was filed by Melanie Sloan, Executive Director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), and charges that:

…Louisiana Rule of Professional Conduct 8.4(b) provides it is professional conduct for a lawyer to “commit a criminal act especially one that reflects adversely on the lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer in other respects.”  By his own admission, Sen. Vitter solicited for prostitution in the District of Columbia – apparently on numerous violations – and the evidence strongly suggests he had a pattern of committing the same violations in Louisiana.  Because soliciting prostitutes is a crime, Sen. Vitter clearly violated Rule 8.4(b).  Sen. Vitter’s conduct is all the more egregious because he is an elected official, who has sworn an oath to uphold the law of the United States.

In the CREW press release, Ms. Sloan notes the preferential treatment Sen. Vitter has received so far in response to his admission of multiple criminal acts, especially when compared to the prostitutes employed by the same ‘madam’ from whom Sen. Vitter solicited prostitutes:

13 former prostitutes were forced to testify at the trial of the DC Madam, who committed suicide shortly after her conviction. Sloan noted that one, a former Navy supply officer and Naval Academy instructor, lost her job because the Navy requires those who serve “to adhere to a standard of conduct that reflects the Navy’s values of honor, courage and commitment.” Sloan said, “It is a shame the Senate has no such standard of conduct. It will be interesting to see what sort of standard the Louisiana Disciplinary Board chooses to apply.” [Emphasis supplied.]

It will, indeed, be interesting to see what standards the Disciplinary Counsel will choose to apply to the investigation of this complaint.  In the meantime, it is interesting to review and understand the standards that the Disciplinary Counsel is mandated to apply:

The disciplinary counsel shall evaluate all information coming to his or her attention by complaint or from other sources alleging lawyer misconduct or incapacity. If the lawyer is not subject to the jurisdiction of the court, the matter shall be referred to the appropriate entity in any jurisdiction in which the lawyer is admitted. If the information, if true, would not constitute misconduct or incapacity, the matter shall be dismissed. If the lawyer is subject to the jurisdiction of the court and the information alleges facts which, if true, would constitute misconduct or incapacity, counsel shall conduct an investigation unless in the discretion of disciplinary counsel the matter qualifies for referral to the Practice Assistance and Improvement Program.  [Emphasis supplied.]  Section 11, Procedure for Disciplinary Proceedings, ¶A, Screening, Louisiana Rules for Lawyer Disciplinary Enforcement.

It is also critical to understand that, in addition to any legal and fact-based defenses that may be available to him, Sen. Vitter will continue to argue – loudly – that this complaint is just another example of political gamesmanship and that it should be summarily dismissed as such.  Accordingly, this complaint is as likely, if not more likely, to be Roach Moteled – that is, it’s checked in to the Office of the Disciplinary Counsel but is never checked out – than it is to receive the proper attention and legitimate investigation it deserves.

Help this complaint get the attention it deserves by contacting the LADB, Office of Disciplinary Counsel and LSBA to respectfully demand that the Office of the Disciplinary Counsel fully comply with the Louisiana Rules for Lawyer Disciplinary Enforcement:

The Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board
2800 Veterans Memorial Boulevard, Suite 310
Metairie, LA 70002
Tel: (504) 834-1488 or (800) 489-8411
Fax: (504) 834-1449
Email: ladb@ladb.org

Office of the Disciplinary Counsel
4000 S. Sherwood Forest Boulevard, Suite 607
Baton Rouge, LA 70816
Tel: (225) 293-3900 or (800) 326-8022
Fax: (225) 293-3300

The Louisiana State Bar Association
Kim H. Boyle, President
365 Canal Street, Suite 2000
New Orleans, LA 70130-6534
Tel: (504) 566-1311
Direct line: (504) 679-5790
Fax: (504) 568-9130
Email: boylek@phelps.com

In what (I hope) is an encouraging sign that this investigation is, in fact, being taken seriously, the Louisiana Supreme Court visited my posts regarding the status of Sen. Vitter’s membership in the Louisiana State Bar Association the day after the complaint was filed.

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Register by noon, 08-28-09 (tomorrow), for Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s 08-30-09 (Sunday) Telephone Town Hall

Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz, along with Nancy-Ann DeParle, counselor to President Obama and director of the White House Office of Health Reform, will host her second of five telephone town hall meetings this Sunday, August 30, 2009 from 7-8 p.m.

Per the Congresswoman’s press release, they:

… will be discussing health insurance reform that combines the quality Americans need with the choice and competition we want. This is your opportunity to ask me questions regarding this issue.

To participate in my telephone town hall meeting, I need to have your phone number by noon on Friday, August 28, 2009. There are two ways that you can provide me your phone number:

1. The easiest way is to subscribe to my electronic newsletter, which will insure you are alerted to this and future town hall meetings, both in person and via phone. Simply CLICK HERE and MAKE SURE TO INCLUDE YOUR PHONE NUMBER[,]

2. Another way is to e-mail your phone number, in the body of the e-mail, to the following address: fl20rsvp@mail.house.gov[.]

You can also sign up here.

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Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga) emails constituents: You’ll be ‘safe and secure’ at my Town Hall meeting.

Atlanta-Area Action Alert: Rep. Hank Johnson, the Democratic Representative of Georgia’s Fourth Congressional District is holding a health care reform town hall meeting (Flyer – .pdf) Monday night, August 10, 2009. If you can attend this (or another) town hall meeting, here’s a list of ‘best practices’ to help you prepare.  After the event, you can report your experience and upload videos and photes of the event here.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The conduct displayed at recent town hall meetings (see here, here, here and here) has now unbelievably led to this: Members of the United States Congress must now send emails to their constituents to assure them that it will be ‘safe and secure’ to meet with their Congressperson [my emphasis]:

We have a very important town hall on health insurance reform on Monday, Aug. 10 at Georgia Perimeter College’s Cole Auditorium in Clarkston at 7 p.m.

I just want to assure you that GPC and my office will provide a safe and secure environment in which to hold a respectful and candid dialogue on this critical issue.

Please do not allow news reports of “town halls gone wild” deter you from attending our meeting. I want to hear from my constituents who have real questions and concerns about health care insurance reform proposals being debated in Congress.

Our democracy doesn’t work unless we treat each other with respect and are willing to listen to diverse opinions. I’m here to listen to you, and I think we will all benefit from listening to our distinguished panel and to each other.

In the event that you are unable to attend, a video of the event will be available on my website for you to view by Thursday, Aug. 13.

So please join me Monday, Aug. 10 at 7 p.m. at Georgia Perimeter College. I look forward to a productive exchange of ideas.

Thank you.

Hank Johnson

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Texas Tech faculty members object to the hiring of ‘Professor’ Alberto Gonzales

Sarah Nightingale of the Avalanche-Journal reports that Texas Tech professors object to the hiring of Alberto Gonzales:

More than 40 Texas Tech professors have objected in a petition to Chancellor Kent Hance’s decision to hire former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, according to the petition’s creator.

Petition creator Walter Schaller, a Tech philosophy professor since 1986, said Friday he decided to take action because “with the emphasis on ethics the university has adopted, a guy that misled Congress is not the kind of person we want to represent Texas Tech.”

[snip]

The petition cites two main reasons for opposing Gonzales’ hire: because the chancellor should not hire faculty and because Gonzales’ record is questionable.

[snip]

The document goes on to list Gonzales “ethical failings,” including: frequently misleading Congress and the American people; rejecting the Geneva Conventions; denying the Constitutional right of Habeas Corpus; and showing more loyalty to President George W. Bush than to the Constitution.

“I tried to document all of the charges against Gonzales,” Schaller said, citing a 2008 Department of Justice report and a 2009 Inspector Generals’ report investigating Gonzales’ surveillance programs as his information sources.

The petition is here (.pdf).

I sent the following email to the 38 original professors who signed the petition:

Professors:

I wish you luck with your petition in opposition to the employment of Mr. Gonzales by TTU.

Prof. Schaller was quoted saying:

I tried to document all of the charges against Gonzales,” Schaller said, citing a 2008 Department of Justice report and a 2009 Inspector Generals’ report investigating Gonzales’ surveillance programs as his information sources.

As a practicing attorney, I’ve grown very tired of attorneys – like Mr. Gonzales – whose unethical conduct makes them unfit to practice law and began drafting grievance applications to document their conduct, including this complaint against Mr. Gonzales.  My article is written in the form of a draft grievance application that is ready to be filed with the Texas Bar.  I would suggest it would be much harder for TTU to justify the continued employment of former-attorney Alberto Gonzales than the continued employment of former-Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you – or someone from TTU law school – would like to discuss filing a grievance against Mr. Gonzales with the Texas Bar Association.

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Renewing Protests in Iran organized by internet, txt msg

After 11 days of quiet, protesters in Iran unveiled a new hit-and-run strategy this week, NBC News’ Chief Foreign Correspondent Richard Engel reported on the July 9, 2009, Rachel Maddow Show.  Engel explains that the relatively smaller and shorter (in time) protests replace the mass demonstrations because increased number of arrests and deaths and greater violence make the large protests unsustainable in the long term.  At 1:50 of the segment (here at MSNBC), Engel reports that the protesters are able to organize the protests because they are managing to communicate by internet, cell phones and txt msg.

The segment begins with a video of a dark Tehran night filled with defiant shouts of Allahu Akbar.  That video alone is worth a view.  Maddow points out that she is relying on the people in Iran for the news and images that she is broadcasting.

As I wrote earlier this week, the Electronic Frontier Foundation produces the Tor anonymizing software.  Tor allows the protesters to circumvent censorship systems and remain anonymous while reading, writing and sending video on the internet, thus avoiding retaliation by the Iranian government.  (Thankfully, we don’t have to worry about such things in this country.)   Adding your computer to the Tor network helps the protesters remain anonymous online by increasing the effectiveness of the network.  The Tor software can downloaded here.

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