The imbroglio started when a fellow named Jack Marshall, an unknown and inconsequential quantity in the blawgosphere, leveled an accusation against Eric Turkewitz, a well-known, highly-regarded New York personal injury lawyer and blawger. It was a direct charge that Turk violated Rule 8.4.
This wasn’t about discussing whether conduct was violative, but that a specific lawyer violated a specific rule with specific conduct that could result in sanctions ranging from suspension to disbarment. It’s the lawyer equivalent of yelling rape. And Jack Marshall was the yeller. And the sole basis for accusation was that Marshall pronounced it to be so, because Marshall, per Marshall, was an ethics expert.
He was told he was wrong. Over and over and a variety of ways by a variety of people over a period of days. During that period, he had the time to write two additional posts, The April Fool Lawyer and His Defenders: Ethical Dodges on Display, and then, amazingly, decided that Jack Marshall was important enough to write the rules for everyone else, April Fool’s Day Ethics. He called a lot of people names. I was one for having stood up to his accusation against Turk, but the bloodletting went on for quite a while.
I watched in morbid fascination as the comments came in, trying nicely, angrily, sweetly, attackingly, to tell Marshall he was wrong. He attacked in response. He was right. He was absolutely certain he was right. He was the expert and everyone else was a fool, an idiot, all manner of stupid, because he was right. More than 100 comments at his blog (note spelling).
Then suddenly, he wasn’t. Jack Marshall announced I was wrong, you were right.
He apologized to Turk, which Turk gracefully accepted. Others praised his willingness to admit he was wrong and apologize. The “hoary” (to borrow a word) chestnut that it takes a big man to apologize was floated. Kumbaya was heard in the distant background. The train stopped wrecking itself, over and over, and we could all return to our normal blogospheric viewing. Who cared that some idiot named Marshall flung a false accusation, raised a ruckus against a respected lawyer, smeared many of the most respected members of the blawgosphere, then skunked off with his tail between his legs, admittedly wrong?
Despite watching for the past two days, mostly laughing at the antics of one of the most pompous, narcissistic ignoramuses I’ve yet to see online, I’m not satisfied with this conclusion. Marshall proceeds to “explain” the error of his ways.
I’m not going to spin this. My conviction that the web hoax engineered by trial lawyer/blogger Eric Turkewitz violated the legal ethics rules was the product of a toxic mix of factors, prime among then being that I didn’t review my own files.
Yet spin is all it is. Even this opening sentence, claiming that his fault was not reviewing his own files, is a outrageous lie. Does he have files that inform him not to accuse others falsely of wrongdoing first, then think later? What file does he need to tell him not to falsely accuse someone? What a load of crap.
I had been wallowing in obscure clues from other jurisdictions–Tennessee, for example, which has the ABA wording but an odd Comment that begins…
 Paragraph (c) prohibits lawyers from engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation. Such conduct reflects adversely on the lawyer’s fitness to practice law…
This could be taken to mean that all such conduct reflects adversely on fitness. The problem is, I don’t believe that, and I don’t believe that Tennessee means that.
Spare me. The old “obscure Tennessee caveat” defense? At no time did Marshall “reveal” his argument that he was relying on the Tennessee interpretation. In fact, at no time did Marshall say he was relying on any obscure state rule. In fact, he disavowed, numerous times, that there was a need to rely on any interpretation, caselaw or otherwise, smacking those who tried to tell him otherwise that they were wrong. They were idiots who didn’t get it like he did, because he was the expert and they were morons. It wasn’t that Marshall just got it wrong, but that he viciously attacked back at every chance.
Run through the list of adjectives used by Marshall in this post and his response to comments. Anybody see a reference to an obscure Tennessee interpretation? But now there’s no spin?
I picked Eric’s hoax, moreover, for another bad reason: I was rubbed the wrong way by his post criticizing the New York Times for falling for it. But that’s not ethics, that’s style. I let it warp my judgment.
Notice that it’s still a hoax rather than an April Fools Day joke or prank? Notice that he’s still justifying his reaction, despite the backdoor concession? It may not have been an ethical violation, Marshall now says, though Turk was still wrong for criticizing the Times, which is what compelled me to do it. He’s wrong, but not blameworthy.
So, with incomplete disregard for my accumulated research and my prior positions, I wrote that Eric’s fiction was an ethics Rules violation. Then I compounded the blunder by focusing on the counter-arguments initially chosen by Eric, Carolyn Elephant, and Scott Greenfield, which were more emotional and abusive than analytical, rather than considering whether they had something to be emotional and abusive about. It was a good platform to write about how lawyers and others resort to rationalizations, and I took the bait…
And the “counter-arguments” (which by definition elevate Marshall’s original attack from false accusation to argument) were “emotional and abusive.” Marshall still doesn’t grasp that his false accusation was utterly baseless, the narcissists dream of alleging a wrong because Marshall, the center of his own universe, says so. This malicious, self-aggrandizing narcissist still doesn’t get that the responses were geared to his baseless, ignorant, false accusation. The false accuser whines that those who called him out were “abusive”? Do you think that the “abusive” attacks against you might have something to do with the fact that you began this mess by falsely and baselessly accusing Turk of unethical conduct? Does that detail not enter into your warped psyche?
Without question, it’s better that this worthless, pontificating, ignoramus finally conceded that he was wrong, even if he does so in a vain attempt to salvage what remains of his reputation only after the universal condemnation of the blawgosphere. We tend to be a fairly forgiving bunch, and the amount of energy put into dealing with this otherwise inconsequential self-promoter far exceeded his worth. But I don’t buy his apology. Not in the slightest.
I believe the apology is wholly disingenuous, replete with spin at every turn. I believe that Marshall is trying to resurrect himself, only because he now realizes that he committed marketing suicide with the universal condemnation. His apology is nothing more than a carefully crafted rationalization of his misconduct. His apology continues his attack, merely from another angle. Even wrong, he’s still right.
Since Marshall never offered an apology to me, I have nothing to accept or reject. If he had done so, I wouldn’t have bothered with it. He’s unworthy of my concern either way. But Turk is. Carolyn is. The myriad blawgers who tried to straighten this jerk out are, and this post is for them, and me.
You do not falsely accuse someone of wrongdoing first, then figure out whether you’ve got any basis later.
You do not justify your accusations by claiming to be a false prophet of ethics, while attacking others as ignorant fools.
You do not spend days viciously attacking those who are telling you that you’re wrong, when you’re wrong, then claim that you were only wrong because you didn’t have the time to “review your files.” There is no justification, none, for your attacking first then thinking later. I can’t imagine a more pathetic, disingenuous, claim.
You do not get to apologize after having done all of this and then expect to get a trophy for being a big enough man to admit your error. The best you get is minor mitigation for your many wrongs. And they were many. But even the minor mitigation is undermined by your attempt at self-aggrandizement and rationalization in the apology. You net out zero.
Jack Marshall, the owner of ProEthics, a company that sells CLE courses, has destroyed his credibility. Jack Marshall, blogger at Ethics Alarm, has engaged in rampant unethical conduct, based upon his own claims of what constitutes ethical conduct. Jack Marshall cannot pretend it was just a big, silly mistake and expect to be welcomed back into the fold as an ethics expert. Anyone who listen to Marshall is a bigger fool than he is.
This fight has come to a conclusion. Eric Turketwitz has done nothing, repeat, nothing unethical. The baseless accusation against him was false. And false accuser Jack Marshall’s 15 minutes are over, and he should never be heard from again.
If others forgive him, that’s their choice. Some may think that he deserves a second chance. That too is their choice. I believe he’s a danger to ethics. He can have a second chance being a dog catcher, not an ethicist (if he ever was one except in his own mind). I have deliberately used a wealth of ad hominem attacks on Marshall because I believe he should be attacked for what he’s done and how he’s done it. I am deliberately harsh. That’s what Marshall deserves. It’s unfathomable to me that anyone would pay heed to this worthless twerp on any subject, no less ethics.