Archive for the ‘Ethics’ Category

NBC Dateline Lawsuit

A lawsuit against NBC’s Datelinefor the suicide of Texas Prosecutor Louis William Conradt Jr. has the green light and will proceed. Dateline’s popular program, “To Catch a Predator” features confrontations with men who allegedly sought “dates” with underage persons they met on-line. Condradt was one such “victim” of NBC. While camera crews and the local SWAT team awaited outside his home for his arrest, Conradt shot himself.

Southern District of New York Judge Denny Chin said that if the complaint’s allegations are true, a reasonable jury could find that “NBC crossed the line from responsible journalism to irresponsible and reckless intrusion into law enforcement.” NBC sticks to its guns, a spokesperson being quoted as saying, “the evidence will ultimately show that ‘Dateline’ acted responsibly and lawfully.”

This is definitely a case to follow in that it tells a fascinating, tragic story that brings together the ever-powerful media, society’s unquenchable hunger to punish our modern pariah, the pedophile, and the law. A related story is also seen in the unfolding of bills urging adoption of Jessica’s law across the country which includes a broader-scale use of GPS to monitor sex offenders. As usual, though, the problem lies in a woeful lack of funding. 

Ethics, schnethics, or…”Sanction me!”

Personal injury lawyer Glen Lerner made an interesting ethical call when he decided to stick out a “sabbatical” in Pennsylvania rather than return to Las Vegas to defend his client in a criminal…no, a murder trial. According to Review-Journal.com, he left a voice-mail (!) message for the county prosecutor saying, he wouldn’t be returning for trial and if the judge “wants to sanction me, she can sanction me.” A man true to his word, Lerner didn’t show up for the first day of trial.

Wow. Talk about copping an attitude.

Now, according to local legal experts, the sanctions that the lawyer so freely availed himself to can include jail time and disbarment. Disbarment, as some of you might know, means that Lerner could lose his license to practice law. However, the consequences of Lerner’s ethical decision depends on the judge. She says, she wants to hear his side of the story. Just like in the movies, everyone is guilty until…I mean, everyone is innocent until proven guilty.

At the time of publication, the Review-Journal article said that Lerner hadn’t been called to the carpet yet to explain himself.

A question for paralegal students: if this took place in California, which ethical rule or code section would the judge or State Bar apply to this conduct?