Discipline Nancy Grace

I’ve been thinking about this for a few days.

I began this blog with the lawyer’s strike idea:  take an especially pernicious robed flavor of the month – so many to choose from  – and see if you can rally some lawyers from the relevant jurisdiction to strike until some sort of action is taken.

I tried it out on a pretty good target, one Sharon Keller of Texas.  At least I thought she was a pretty good target.

In any event, the effort fizzled and failed.  Indeed, it was noteworthy primarily for incurring criticism and disdain from the very people one might have expected to have appreciated the idea and the effort:  luminaries of the blawgosphere, many of whom adorn the blogroll to the right.

So, you know, I had to think about whether a similar – not identical, obviously, but similar – effort should be made with respect to Nancy Grace.  And I think the effort should be made, for whatever it is worth.

This is not a free speech issue.  Mark Bennett has it wrong, I think.  Scott Greenfield is right:  voice all the opinions you want, but not under the mantle of being a lawyer.

Nancy Grace is guilty of serious misconduct, though not the kind for which attorneys are normally disciplined.  That should change.

It is an easy enough calculus for any lawyer cynical and self-serving enough to make:  become a shill for the powers that be or the popular will, which often overlap or are even indistinguishable, and enjoy the benefits.  These will include money, power and sometimes fame.  Certainly that has been the case for Nancy Grace.

That so many lawyers choose this path is lamentable, in my view.  It is also ethically challenged, perhaps, but not unethical in and of itself.  We are all tempted by the world’s many rewards.  Lawyers are not required to be saints.

Yet there are limits.  The necessary work of lawyers requires, from time to time for all of them and much more often for the chosen few, the hard labor of opposing the powers that be and the popular will.  The Nancy Grace’s of the profession leave this hard work to others.  Nothing admirable about that, but again not unethical in and of itself.

What is unethical about Nancy Grace’s behavior, then?

You can leave the hard work to others but you owe them your professional support.  When a judge does something unpopular like granting a suppression motion or acquitting a criminal defendant at a bench trial (a non-cop defendant, that is) or awarding a lot of money to an injured person against a municipality or an insurance company, and as a result comes under scrutiny and criticism for the unpopular act, the entire profession needs to speak with one voice in defense of the judge.

When a jury does the same, no lawyer should be heard to criticize the jury.  Indeed, to the degree that the powers that be or a rabid public turns its attention to the jury under such circumstances, a lawyer is under an affirmative obligation to defend the jury and quell the public outrage, to the extent that lawyer is called upon.

Nancy Grace has done the opposite in a very prominent way.

There are practical reasons to require this of lawyers and discipline those who willfully fall short:  as noted, this particular shirking of one’s professional responsibilities can encourage violence towards jurors and acquitted defendants.  But the real reason, the one that applies consistently and across the board so that running afoul of it can be made a matter of attorney discipline, is that it undermines the basic function of the system every lawyer is sworn to uphold.

The third branch of government exists to do the unpopular or disfavored thing when required, and for no other reason.  A lawyer who willfully undermines this vital and essential function should be disciplined.

Information about filing a grievance against attorneys from Georgia can be found here.  Any member of the public can file one, and I encourage everyone to do so.

 

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10 Comments

Filed under Judicial lying/cheating, Striking lawyers, wrongful convictions

10 responses to “Discipline Nancy Grace

  1. Ruth Gravitt

    Great article and I will send the link to the VP and manager of HLN. His name is Scot Safon if you want to contact him on Facebook. Ruth Gravitt

    Like

  2. Pam

    Followed the link to the ethics division…Bill Smith.

    Like

  3. bluebird

    I’m in.

    Like

  4. bluebird

    Here are the things Nancy Grace should be disciplined for under Georga State Bar Association:
    1. Rule 4-108. Conduct Constituting Threat of Harm to Clients or Public; Emergency Suspension
    2. Rule 7: Communication of Field of Practice
    3. Rule 5.7 Restrictions Regarding Law-related Services
    4. Rule 4.1 Truthfulness in Statements to Others

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  5. Pam

    Lets not stop at Nancy Grace….what about the prosecutors of the Anthony case with their outright lies!

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    • Glad you brought this up. There has been some traffic elsewhere concerning the apparent fact that the prosecutors knew that the testimony they had elicited about “84″ computer searches for chloroform was incorrect and the real figure was “1″.

      Should they have admitted this and corrected it in front of the jury? I think so. However, their obligation is to ensure that it does not “go uncorrected”. They apparently notified the defense and the defense pointed out the error. This is enough. I agree that they should have done more; but what they did do, although sub-optimal in my opinion, is enough to avoid violating their duty as prosecutors and lawyers.

      The more serious lingering issue has to do with that expert witness from the DoD named Rodriguez, I think. There were a few stories that appeared after the trial was over indicating that the authorities were conducting an investigation into witness tampering, and I think this episode is the most likely candidate. And that would potentially involve prosecutorial misconduct, because the idea was that the Florida State’s Attorney’s office used its influence to threaten the job of a defense witness in an effort to intimidate that witness. There was no indication as to who was involved in this specifically; as I recall Ashton was asked about it by the judge and denied knowing anything about it. But someone at the State Attorney’s Office did something improper. Whether it was an intentional witness tampering event or a misjudgment I don’t know. But that’s what investigations are for.

      Overall, though, and those things aside, it may be important to say that while I wouldn’t call the CA prosecutors paragons of ethical scrupulosity, for the most part it appeared to me that they were on the up and up, didn’t cross any clear lines, and basically presented the evidence they had in a fair manner without making stuff up or embellishing unfairly. Except for that stupid video.

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  6. The day after CNN taped her interview with Nancy Grace Melinda Duckett was found dead of a gunshot wound at her grandparents home…According to the suit filed by Jay Paul Deratany the family claims that Graces intense questioning during the interview caused Melina Duckett such severe emotional distress that she killed herself. ..The family feels further grieved by the fact that the Nancy Grace show aired the interview even though everyone was aware that Duckett had committed suicide. We are also saying that the decision to air the interview after the suicide caused her family to suffer severe emotional distress and exposed them to media and public harassment says Deratany…As for Nancy Grace she has said publicly that she does not believe the suit has any merit.

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  7. Nancy Grace has caused the lloss of life to victims in the past and she even paid the victim’s remaining family hundreds of thousands of dollars for her crimes while still denying the crime. Nancy Grace desearves a life sentence in prison for her crimes against real victims. Since she was never a victim of a crime herself contrary to her lies, she remains still clue-less to the real damage she does to real victims. -Jane

    Like

  8. Winter Green

    They should throw Nancy Grace to the werewolves, then lock her remains up in the big-house and throw away the key, so she can never escape!

    Like

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