No, We're Not Doctors [updated]

 Posted on October 21, 2013 in Uncategorized

In anonymous commentary on JD Underground, the subject being a lively discussion with a lawyer who publicly gave a wrong answer-I thought harmfully wrong-to an ethics question, "patentesq" ((1,238 posts on JD Underground since May 9, 2012)) wrote:

I can't imagine a group of medical doctors acting this way... law is a sickening profession in so many ways.

I confess that I don't know who JD Underground's denizens are. Dropping in there is like visiting a party at which a bunch of doughy masked frat boys alternately slap-fight and masturbate each other. It's frankly disturbing. "Patentesq" might be a patent lawyer. Or he might be a twelve-year-old boy or a federal judge or a guy who likes to wear vinyl shoes that look like shiny leather. ((They're patentesque.))

The fact that there are lawyers who thrive on conflict is foreign to patentesq and makes him all queasy, but still he makes a good point: medical doctors don't publicly call out each other's bullshit.

If they did, we would see doctors publicly criticizing doctors such as Emmette Flynn and Michael LaPaglia who sacrifice their ethical principles to comply with the unlawful commands of government agents.

We didn't.

Who talked about Flynn and LaPaglia, who filed a complaint with the Board of Medical Examiners against Flynn?


Who rejected the complaint against Flynn because he vas chust follovink orders?


No, you wouldn't see a group of medical doctors behaving that way because they're in a cozy little club in which being liked is more important than correcting problems. ((Perhaps the patent bar is like that too.))

The criminal-defense bar? Some of its less passionate members ((The handjob-and-kolache crowd.)) prefer playing nice, sure, but generally not. We criminal-defense lawyers brawl for a living. We buck the majority all day every day-every client is someone whom most people want to see in a box. Since we're thwarting the will of the majority, most people think we're assholes anyway, so what the hell, we tell them the unvarnished truth.

We tell each other the unvarnished truth. It doesn't do my client any good to have other lawyers tell me my defense is great, when in fact it's the stupidest thing since Rakofsky v. Internet.

Most of us don't get our panties in a wad when we get told that we're wrong, which is good because we get told that we're wrong all the damn time. We have sharp tongues and thick skins.

Fennell, and those who think I should have used some phrase more genteel than "ignorant twaddle" in my assessment of her ignorant twaddle, are operating under an incorrect assumption: that I intended to teach her something.

I've long since given up trying to teach lessons to unwilling students. If Fennell had wanted to take the lesson, she was welcome to it, but my Avvo comment was intended only as a small monument-one that I had no reason to think anyone would ever see-to incompetence in Avvo Answers, like planting a flag of reason on a distant asteroid of nonsense.

I didn't think Fennell was stupid, or incompetent, much less nefarious, but she was ill-informed about a subject that lots of lawyers don't understand, and that I've been trying to educate people about for years. ((A similarly ignorant lawyer, Dionne Press, tried to get the DA's Office to file charges against me once for talking to her client.))

That Fennell took it as a personal affront, and then went off on a tear of dishonesty, anger, and bigotry was an outcome beyond my wildest dreams. She may never see it that way-with every word she sees herself as winning-but Fennell made herself an object lesson. Maybe thanks to the added attention some other lawyer will realize that the ethical rules don't bar a lawyer from talking to an already-represented person who wants to hire him. Maybe one such lawyer talks to a represented person, realizes that the client is getting screwed, substitutes in and rescues the client's future. The possibility makes me grateful to Fennell.

But as patentesq says, this never would have happened with doctors. If one doctor posts in a public forum, saying "a doctor must treat an unconsenting patient if asked to by law enforcement," some other doctor might gently correct him: "no, brother physician, the principle of respect for authority requires that you follow the patient's wishes." Or they all might just leave it alone. Because being liked is very important.

And those ill-informed doctors who agree with the original poster-who aren't stupid or incompetent, much less nefarious-will go blithely and ignorantly on, assaulting people with what the Fifth Circuit called "greater affront[s] to [their] dig­ni­tary inter­est than full-on exploratory surgery."

Screw that. I like our way better.

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