Thursday, March 6, 2008

Teaching Professional Responsibility

From Barbri MPRE preparation materials:

Q: "Judge Jarmon's staff includes an attractive young woman, attorney Lightner. When Lightner is present in chambers during the judge's conferences with male attorneys, the judge invariably makes lecherous comments about her. He does not make such comments in open court or in other public places. May Lightner report Judge Jarmon to the appropriate authorities?"

A: "Yes. A judge must maintain high standards of personal conduct, both in and out of the courtroom".

Some concerns:
(1) In no other part of the book do the authors refer to the physical appearance of one of the characters. In only one other case was age referred to. There, it was a conflict of interest between an attorney and client over a piece of real estate that they owned together as joint tenants with right of survivorship. Is the woman's age or normative appearance necessary to answer the question? If not, what does it suggest about the authors' assumptions about sexual harassment?
(2) The answer was one of the shortest (although it did cite two cases), and usually they include some description of the reasoning behind the rule or underlying law (for example, it might tell you about the evidence code or some aspect of criminal law outside of the Model Rules). Is sexual harassment an issue of "personal conduct"?
(3) The “when Lightner is present” clause suggests that these comments have to do with her presence in front of the judge. What work does linking her presence to the judge’s lecherous comments do in sustaining the logic behind the comments themselves?

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