Monday, March 26, 2007

Succinct Speech on Shirley & Co. Plus: Ethics?

Rick Esenberg is also a good speaker.

In about 20 minutes (slightly more than 1 sermon,) he was able to deliver the short version of his thoughts about the Wisconsin Supreme Court. He was speaking to a gathering of the Milwaukee Federalist Society.

At the risk of mangling his significantly more-nuanced thoughts, I'll tell you what I took away from the event. (The link above takes you to his post on today's topic.)

The Wisconsin Supremes are 'making up the rules' as they go. They examine or analyze cases in a fashion different than the norm. Or they draw conclusions which contradict recent precedent. Or they place new evidentiary rules in a decision, rather than going through the normal process.

This should worry people who are not even remotely close to being eminento practitioners of law (that's most of us...) because when the rules of the game are changed while the game is being played, there are problems.

Practitioners don't know how to argue a case. This means (of course) that there is no probability of outcome. Should that continue for a lengthy period, it will lead to anarchy.

Not where the State should be heading.

As to the second headline item, "Ethics:"

Prior to the lecture by Esenberg, an older gentleman was conversing with another fellow near the back of the room, and their conversation was about legal ethics. It covered a fair amount of ground, but the older guy made an observation which was fascinating.

He said that the concept of lawyers' ethics was fraught with problems--and that originally, the canon was proposed as responsibilities rather than 'ethics.' (There's a reason for that link on "responsibilities," and it has to do with a discussion of "rights" begun with a post on Hauerwas. Scroll down to the comments, and read the question of T. Berres, another blogger. The point? "Responsibilities/duties" are placed before "rights" by English Lords in the 1200's. The lords didn't talk about "ethics.")

Ethics is defined as "A set of principles of right conduct." Responsibility, however, is defined as "Something for which one is responsible; a duty, obligation, or burden."

There's a difference.

That puts an interesting light on the current brouhaha regarding Judge Ziegler, no?

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