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Folos: Cross-Dressing Judge and Unethical Ethicists

Updates on two stories we've been following here:

Just two weeks ago, we checked in on the will-he-or-won't-he status of Robert Somma, the U.S. bankruptcy judge in Massachusetts who resigned, then un-resigned, from the bench after his arrest for DUI while crossdressing. Anticipating a "media frenzy" in the wake of his arrest, he submitted his resignation, effective April 1. But after the local bankruptcy bar turned out in force to urge him to stay, he published a letter in Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly announcing that he was extending the effective date of his resignation to May 15 while he was "communicating with the Court of Appeals" about his status.

That date came and went with no word either way. But on Friday, the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals put an end to the suspense, issuing this brief press release:

The United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit and Judge Robert Somma have agreed that he will not resume service on the United States Bankruptcy Court for Massachusetts but is leaving to pursue other endeavors. The court appreciates the service that Judge Somma has rendered.

Neither the court nor Somma's lawyer would provide further details, according to The Boston Globe.

In another story, we wrote here in November about Columbia Law School Professor William Simon's article criticizing three prominent legal-ethics professors for giving bad legal advice with potentially large public consequences. The story was reported that week in The National Law Journal and had already been a topic of debate among legal bloggers for several weeks. In the article, "The Market for Bad Legal Advice: Academic Professional Responsibility Consulting as an Example" (also on SSRN), Simon postulates that clients sometimes want bad legal advice and lawyers sometimes oblige. I also wrote a later piece about the article and its implications for expert secrecy. This week, Fortune magazine senior editor Roger Parloff revisits the Simon article. He writes:

Simon's article, the 'take-no-prisoners' tone of which left me slack-jawed, contends that there is a systemic, recurring problem that arises when well-heeled clients go shopping for expert exonerations - sometimes prior to doing something shady, sometimes after they've already done it -- to immunize themselves from civil liability or criminal prosecution.

Parloff goes on to discuss the article with Simon, who he describes as "a tall, reflective man whose calm, matter-of-fact manner contains, at least as I experience it, undercurrents of controlled rage." He also talks to some of the ethics professors who were targeted in Simon's article. Like everything Parloff writes, this is worth a read.

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on June 2, 2008 at 09:36 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)


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