Letters: Mental health check
“Taking Sides,” by Amanda Robert (April-May, page 52), highlights the importance of attorneys representing clients in cases involving psychological issues recommending and retaining properly qualified mental health professionals as expert witnesses. They should be qualified to conduct interviews, perform examinations and provide expert testimony to the psychological dynamics involved so judges can order proper remedies to the matters being litigated.
The failure on the part of an attorney to recommend a mental health evaluation and investigate a potential expert’s background, as defined in ABA Criminal Justice Standard 4.41 of the Defense Function, can have a devastating impact on all parties involved in the matters at hand.
Jon P. Frey
Absence of morals?
As an aging lawyer, I enjoyed reading “Reading, Writing and Regret: What I Wish I’d Learned in Law School” (April-May, page 44).
As my first observation, noticeably absent was any reference to the Bible, which was included on the list of suggested summer reading for incoming freshman law students in 1981 at Cumberland School of Law.
Among other things, the Bible teaches law, morals, ethics, wisdom, leadership and how one should treat others. In fact, I believe the oldest example of due process is in Genesis 3:9 (The Fall of Man), where the Lord called to Adam in the Garden of Eden and asked, “Where are you?” as if God did not know.
Moreover, if the numerous Watergate attorneys had followed biblical principles, they would not have gone to prison.
As my second point, I believe it was Julius Caesar who said, “Experience is the greatest teacher.”
No schooling, no matter how thorough, can teach all the skills needed to practice the complex profession of law; rather, that must be acquired through on-the-job training.
James R. Brewster
The recent debacle at Stanford Law School, “Stanford Law’s free speech teachable moments” (ABAJournal.com, April 6) by Stuart N. Brotman regarding invited 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Stuart Kyle Duncan, has predictably become a nationwide spectacle.
The apology letter from the Stanford president and the law school dean was both gracious and essential to any future credibility of Stanford Law, but there were no stated consequences for the offending students or staff.
Future instruction to the law school body in this context should emphasize that, subject to discipline, essentially infantile behavior will not be tolerated; that students be always polite and allow for the free flow of ideas, irrespective of content.
After all, that’s the lawyer way.
To help equip Stanford Law students and staff, they should be reminded of Justice Louis Brandeis’ famous statement about when there is disagreement: “The remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence.”
Also, students should be taught that naughty words do not elevate persuasion. Nor does increased noisiness.
My hope is that going forward, with adult guidance, the students can put their immature behavior behind them and somehow become successful and productive lawyers.
Kemp S. Lewis
Farmington, New Mexico
It is no surprise that the overwhelming majority of articles in the ABA Journal both in print and online have a left-leaning slant. But sometimes, that orientation makes the author miss the forest for the trees. Case in point: the online article headlined “Wigdor blasts DLA Piper’s use of confidential arbitration in case of associate fired after seeking maternity leave” (ABAJournal.com, March 15) by Debra Cassens Weiss. The headline communicates to anyone who has not been living under a rock for the past decade that the plaintiff’s lawyer would rather try this case in a sympathetic court of public opinion than in an arbitration tribunal. Yet nowhere in the article is there any indication that the plaintiff had not agreed to arbitration, that there was any law prohibiting the employer from requiring arbitration or that there was anything unfair about arbitration. The plaintiff’s case may well have merit; the Journal should report on that and not presume that the entire readership is outraged that the plaintiff does not also have the opportunity to arrange for protests in a courtroom or to marshal prejudicial publicity to force a favorable settlement.
Lawrence, New York