flcath wrote: Lawquacious wrote:
BruceWayne wrote:GASP! I mean it's not like people disagree on this! They're a private Christian school and it's within their rights. I'm not sure why people flip out every time Christians express their rights but don't mind when other groups do so. Freedom of speech/religion applies to everyone---not just the groups most popular with fans of Real Time with Bill Mahr.
On a separate note, regarding the school purportedly telling students it's ok for a lawyer support or encourage civil disobedience in certain contexts (assuming the client wanted to do the civil disobedience, and the role of the lawyer was primarily to advise about legal risks and not push the client in that direction), I don't think that is necessarily an ethical violation per se. Attorneys help shape, guide, and challenge laws--not just pedantically follow them in all situations. There are constitutional cases (e.g. some civil rights cases) that probably wouldn't have been brought if the lawyers involved were too afraid to support the client in breaking unfair laws in order to challenge them in court IMO. This is just my opinion, and although I am a rising 2L, I haven't taken professional responsibility yet, so my position may change.
But really this is an extremely contentious issue (faith and politics generally lol), almost guaranteed to stir up a hornet's nest. But I do respect OP's willingness to bring it up, because he obviously strongly disagrees with it and is exercising his freedom of speech.
I also question exactly what has been encouraged (and whether this is just one professor or is a clear school policy statement). I suspect that perhaps there is a bit of a strawman phenomenon that could be occurring, but really don't know.
I strongly believe in euthanasia in situations where modern law would call it murder or manslaughter. It would still be wrong for me to encourage a fragile old woman or scared daughter who looks to me for counsel to pull the plug on their husband/father, even if I did make the legal consequences clear beforehand.
Lawyers have formal avenues through which they can change the law, including the representation of someone who has committed an act of civil disobedience. Using your law school as a breeding ground for legal practitioners who will--if you've done your job effectively--force a specific law out of existence by abusing their privileged status within the legal system is not one of them.
So I take it you wouldn't have taken Jack Kevorkian as a client? (assuming you couldn't get him to clearly renounce what he was doing, but where he was seeking your counsel about consequences if he choose to continue with assisted suicides. I realize this would be different than affirmatively counseling him or pushing him to do so, but my statement re: addressing civil disobedience with a client was reduced from affirmation [which I believe is alleged ITT of Liberty]. It was not clear to me that there was a clear suggestion that a professional practitioner affirmatively counsel someone to break the law for some of the reasons I mention below, though even if there is such evidence available I think the countervailing ethical principle argument may nevertheless have some validity. But I don't necessarily endorse Liberty law school or the views expressed by any faculty).
But more seriously (than the Kevorkian reference), I don't feel like I really disagree with what you are saying in terms of the importance of respect for the law and formal procedure (though I do think formalism can be a problem in some scenarios). There are indeed appropriate and inappropriate ways of addressing what are arguably defects in the law or in particular judicial rulings, and as a general rule advising a client to break the law, or perhaps even tolerating it, is out IMO (I do think that there are sometimes countervailing ethical principles involved in a given scenario, so to focus too much on one ethical principle-- general respect for formal law--while ignoring other potentially compelling ethical principles--the priority that the Constitution places on religious beliefs, which historically have been give precedence over other formal legal mandates at times--can be problematic). But my posting was somewhat impulsive (including the +1), even though I do get the feeling that there is at least a bit of a strawman that has been created out of the Liberty test hypo.
I'm not entirely comfortable myself with the idea of themed law schools (Christian or other religion), and I do think some of what was reported in the article tends to support the idea that some of what is being taught there is at the very least on the fringe of what is professionally acceptable, nevermind being a 'best practice.' But I also think that there is risk with the ABA getting too involved in promulgation of rules that intervene in polarized moral issues (such as I feel the APA has done in the psychology world). To some extent such intervention is probably necessary or desirable though, especially where the rules try to provide 'neutral principles' to help guide practice or appropriate boundaries (though there is some paradox, because perhaps nobody can have a truly neutral view on certain issues, including those promulgating the rules).
Regarding my concern about the strawman phenomenon: what I mean is that while I think some of what is going on at Liberty sounds at least sketchy to me, making the leap to saying (or clearly implying) that the school policy is to teach that lawyers should directly professionally counsel people to break the law or to fly in the face of legal process seems to me like it may be a stretch, especially when the main evidence for this is an exam hypo and speculation that arguing the exam one way resulted in higher grades. I think that the discussion or inclusion of difficult normative issues in the context of law school by a professor doesn't necessarily mean that you have to share their view or that they are necessarily counseling a particular professional course of action in what they are saying (though they could be, and I feel that I have even had the experience of having a professor whose normative bias came out on the exam and where the best argument in the context of the exam was one that I find normatively questionable).
In summary, there are difficult ethical and moral questions that are touched on in this thread, and I think these are made more difficult because there is limited information being reported that has been significantly extrapolated from and interpreted.
One other note--in response to the earlier attempt (VanWinkle) to distinguish the civil disobedience of breaking a law within the jurisdiction it can be enforced in and breaking the law by leaving the jurisdiction in contravention of an order: I think that is largely a distinction of form rather than substance; in both cases the person is breaking the law and liable for the specified legal consequences if caught and prosecuted. Civil disobedience doesn't necessarily imply turning oneself in, or in otherwise making oneself available for arrest. But really I think a lot of this type of argument (on all sides) stands on the cloudy and shaky foundation of numerous extrapolated and questionable assumptions.
TL;DR- Liberty (or some of the faculty) may be off-base and in violation with professional ethics, but for reasons mentioned above (and perhaps others) it is difficult to conclude this with any certainty based on the information provided IMO.