As a young lad in the well of courtrooms in Manhattan, I came to appreciate how Legal Aid lawyers were the tough, hardened warriors of criminal defense. On the whole, they were a mighty group. Sure, there were lousy lawyers, lazy lawyers in the bunch, and defendants ridiculed their “lemon aids” as being barely lawyers, if lawyers at all. But we knew better. These were killers, unafraid of any prosecutor, any judge, any case.
That Legal Aid Society no longer exists, having been taken over by the toadies to social justice.
A couple of years ago we published “Are you a cissy?” , a spoof of a compulsory training inflicted on us by the boss’s wife who announced a mandatory policy of quizzing our clients about gender issues. On first contact, no less.
No doubt it’s impolitic to make fun of silly decrees when they emanate from the boss’s wife. So we weren’t too surprised that the boss got mad as a wet hen when she saw our blog on the Company email.
The idea that the first words out of a public defender’s mouth upon walking into the holding cell was not to get the information necessary to defend their client, to get them out of the can, to save their life. No, no. It was to ask, within earshot of twenty potential killers, what their preferred pronouns were and whether they identifies as gender fluid. Squawk ridiculed the abdication of defense in favor of the adherence to the inane because it was utterly fucking inane.
And so the Legal Aid lawyers whose acutely-honed eyes burned at the sight of wit, demanded she be burned at the stake.
Re: FINAL WARNING
You are being issued a final written warning as a result of your violation of The Legal Aid Society Policy Prohibiting Discrimination and Harassment (hereafter “EEO Policy”) in connection with the complaints of numerous staff members regarding a blog post written by you entitled, “Are You a Cissy?”
Squawk, being far more gracious about such matters, took it with her usual aplomb.
But we were surprised at how wildly misread our blog was by people in our office who call themselves appellate lawyers. Granted, they were new hires, but surely to get the job they had to show some ability to read and comprehend prose. The howls of uninformed indignation that went up! “Offensive!” “Harassment of a protected class of individuals!” “Lack of respect and compassion!” “An ugly slap/laugh in the face!” “Management (or the union?) should step in!” “A huge distraction from doing my job today!”
They were especially adept at the “I’m-only-thinking-of-our-clients” pieties: “Reflects back on my colleagues and I [sic], and our clients.” “Clients may read this thinking this is the view of, or even condoned by, [us], and judges may, as well.”
The complaints weren’t merely idiotic, but so irrational and delusional as to condemn the “new hires” at LAS as being intellectually incapable of breathing, no less lawyering. But LAS is now in the hands of the idiot children, so Squawk was hauled before the Star Chamber.
The Committee finds that the blog post violated the EEO Policy because it was reasonably understood by the complainants to denigrate persons based on characteristics protected under the Policy and the City Human Rights Law, namely, gender identity and expression. As several of the complainants observed, the blog post demonstrated not just a lack of respect and compassion for, but outright hostility toward trans and gender non- conforming clients. By making jokes at their expense, the blog post can reasonably be interpreted to denigrate the concept of gender identity and ridicule the notion that questions should be asked of clients designed to ascertain and respect their gender identities.
But the woke scolds of the Legal Aid Inquisition weren’t done with Squawk.
In addition, the blog post denigrated clients by using stereotypes to paint our clients in a disparaging light. Particularly offensive was attributing the use of racially charged language such as “homie” and “call me Killer” to the pretend client.
It’s almost as if they’ve never met their clients, who tend to have a sense of humor, not to mention grasp of reality, where their ersatz saviors do not.
Although the blog post was evidently an attempt at humor, the EEO Policy explicitly states that inappropriate conduct or language meant as a joke can lead or contribute to harassment.
Of course “an attempt at humor” can be harassment, in the eyes of the unduly passionate. Lawyers lacking any sense of their job, on the other hand, is merely the price defendants have to pay for making sure the foremost concern is that the correct pronoun is used.
A long-time Legal Aid lawyer, back from the days when they understood their job was to win their clients’ cases rather than cry sad tears for their failures, whose job it was to train the new hires, told me he couldn’t do it anymore. He told me they just lack the grasp of the purpose of a public defender, conflating their personal sensitivity toward social justice with their duty to get their guy out of lockup.
The same lessons that he was taught as a young lawyer, that he taught other young lawyers over the years, no longer worked. These new lawyers couldn’t hear it, as it didn’t fit into their paradigm of social justice. Instead of learning how to make a winning bail application, they told the judge of the plight of the marginalized and oppressed, thus guaranteeing they would rot in jail for lack of competent counsel. Then they could go on twitter and bemoan the horrible system that failed the poor and marginalized, utterly unaware of how their incompetence enabled it.
But at least no Legal Aid lawyer will have to suffer the harassment of an “attempt at humor” pushing them to care more about their clients than their ideology. Is there any room left at Legal Aid for lawyers who aren’t so wrapped up in their own feelings that they can still defend clients?
Now that the boss has avenged her wife’s honor and promoted the toadies to supervisors, we’re inclined to let it drop. As George Bernard Shaw said, “Never wrestle with a pig. You just get yourself dirty and besides, the pig likes it.”
On the other hand. . . what’s so bad about mud wrestling? Maybe we’d like it too.
Squawk may continue, if the scolds don’t execute her for this post, because the need to defend the indigent from the state is as critical as ever. And if she walks away, then defendants are left in the hands of the toadies to social justice. Legal Aid Society doesn’t deserve Squawk, but the defendants do. Without Squawk, only the toadies will remain.