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Hickey: It's No Joke.

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IBA-Hickey-ChristineWhen is the last time you heard a good lawyer joke? I am not always quick to the draw on jokes and often forget punch lines; however, there is one type of joke that always grabs my attention: those that degrade our profession. I don’t like them; I don’t tell them. There is no such thing as a good lawyer joke.

I have written often this year about our community of lawyers and what a difference we are making in so many ways. I have written about individuals and groups of lawyers and judges who are upstanding, professional, giving, and committed to the law, the judicial system, and the people it serves. The names of those who have been mentioned in columns are just a small example of the bigger, greater group of lawyers whose names could have replaced those listed. Those people are from all walks of our profession: private firm, public sector, non-practicing, part-time, partner, law student, legal assistant, and every category of law practice imaginable. It is an honor to be a part of this special group. To make jest of this profession, these people, is simply not funny.

As lawyers, we take an Oath of Attorneys, which includes the following affirmation: “I do solemnly swear or affirm that: . . I will not counsel or maintain any action, proceeding, or defense which shall appear to me to be unjust, but this obligation shall not prevent me from defending a person charged with crime in any case; . . I will abstain from offensive personality . . .; I will never reject, from any consideration personal to myself, the cause of the defenseless, the oppressed or those who cannot afford adequate legal assistance; so help me God.” To take lightly or belittle this commitment is wrong.

The IndyBar Standards of Professionalism were created to foster continued respect and trust among lawyers and with the public. Those Standards include a commitment to maintaining and fostering public confidence in our profession; an agreement to be guided by “a fundamental sense of honor, integrity and fair play; and to act with dignity, civility, decency, and courtesy,” refraining from rude, disruptive, disrespectful, obstructive and abusive behavior. What we say about each other and about our chosen profession should be guided by these very principles.

Simply put: respect each other and the profession. Sometimes, the most important lessons are learned before we even realize their significance. So I share with you one of my favorites, “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” by Robert Fulghum:

Share everything. Play fair. Don’t hit people. Put things back where you found them. Clean up your own mess. Don’t take things that aren’t yours. Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody. Wash your hands before you eat. Flush. Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you. Live a balanced life - learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some. Take a nap every afternoon. When you go out in the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands and stick together. Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: the roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that. Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup - they all die. So do we. And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned - the biggest word of all - LOOK.

There is something in this for everyone, no matter your age and no matter your stature. Play fair, live a balanced life, and always remember it is best to hold hands and stick together. That, my friends, is no joke.•

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  1. It's a big fat black mark against the US that they radicalized a lot of these Afghan jihadis in the 80s to fight the soviets and then when they predictably got around to biting the hand that fed them, the US had to invade their homelands, install a bunch of corrupt drug kingpins and kleptocrats, take these guys and torture the hell out of them. Why for example did the US have to sodomize them? Dubya said "they hate us for our freedoms!" Here, try some of that freedom whether you like it or not!!! Now they got even more reasons to hate us-- lets just keep bombing the crap out of their populations, installing more puppet regimes, arming one faction against another, etc etc etc.... the US is becoming a monster. No wonder they hate us. Here's my modest recommendation. How about we follow "Just War" theory in the future. St Augustine had it right. How about we treat these obvious prisoners of war according to the Geneva convention instead of torturing them in sadistic and perverted ways.

  2. As usual, John is "spot-on." The subtle but poignant points he makes are numerous and warrant reflection by mediators and users. Oh but were it so simple.

  3. ACLU. Way to step up against the police state. I see a lot of things from the ACLU I don't like but this one is a gold star in its column.... instead of fighting it the authorities should apologize and back off.

  4. Duncan, It's called the RIGHT OF ASSOCIATION and in the old days people believed it did apply to contracts and employment. Then along came title vii.....that aside, I believe that I am free to work or not work for whomever I like regardless: I don't need a law to tell me I'm free. The day I really am compelled to ignore all the facts of social reality in my associations and I blithely go along with it, I'll be a slave of the state. That day is not today......... in the meantime this proposed bill would probably be violative of 18 usc sec 1981 that prohibits discrimination in contracts... a law violated regularly because who could ever really expect to enforce it along the millions of contracts made in the marketplace daily? Some of these so-called civil rights laws are unenforceable and unjust Utopian Social Engineering. Forcing people to love each other will never work.

  5. I am the father of a sweet little one-year-old named girl, who happens to have Down Syndrome. To anyone who reads this who may be considering the decision to terminate, please know that your child will absolutely light up your life as my daughter has the lives of everyone around her. There is no part of me that condones abortion of a child on the basis that he/she has or might have Down Syndrome. From an intellectual standpoint, however, I question the enforceability of this potential law. As it stands now, the bill reads in relevant part as follows: "A person may not intentionally perform or attempt to perform an abortion . . . if the person knows that the pregnant woman is seeking the abortion solely because the fetus has been diagnosed with Down syndrome or a potential diagnosis of Down syndrome." It includes similarly worded provisions abortion on "any other disability" or based on sex selection. It goes so far as to make the medical provider at least potentially liable for wrongful death. First, how does a medical provider "know" that "the pregnant woman is seeking the abortion SOLELY" because of anything? What if the woman says she just doesn't want the baby - not because of the diagnosis - she just doesn't want him/her? Further, how can the doctor be liable for wrongful death, when a Child Wrongful Death claim belongs to the parents? Is there any circumstance in which the mother's comparative fault will not exceed the doctor's alleged comparative fault, thereby barring the claim? If the State wants to discourage women from aborting their children because of a Down Syndrome diagnosis, I'm all for that. Purporting to ban it with an unenforceable law, however, is not the way to effectuate this policy.

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