Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Two lawyers are accused of throwing a Molotov cocktail into a police car: Let's give them at least two weeks of community service!

Law school graduates must take an oath to support the U.S. Constitution before they can practice law. In Texas, most beginning lawyers take the oath in a ceremony attended by all the justices of the state's supreme court. The swearing-in ceremony is a big deal.

I was in Alaska on my swearing-in day, and I took the oath in Anchorage. My pledge was notarized, and I pasted it on the back of my law license.  I have not practiced law in more than 30 years, but I am still bound by that oath.

Have times radically changed?

A couple of days ago, two New York lawyers were arrested and charged with throwing a Molotov cocktail into a police cruiser. Apparently, the attorneys were protesting the death of George Floyd. 

Urooj Rahman, a Fordham Law School graduate, is described as a human rights attorney. Colinford Mattis, a graduate of New York School of Law, is a furloughed lawyer with Pryor Cashman, an elite New York corporate law firm.

Of course, both attorneys are considered innocent until proven guilty; but the New York Post produced a photo that purports to show Rahman holding a Molotov cocktail.

What will happen to Rahman and Mattis if they are convicted of this crime? A few years ago, they would have been disbarred and sentenced to prison. But in these easy-going times, these two may escape that fate. Maybe a judge will assign them to a couple of weeks of community service like Jussie Smollett in Chicago. Perhaps they will sign lucrative book contracts and give speeches on college campuses. 

Maybe Rahman and Mattis will sue their law schools for negligently failing to teach them that throwing Molotov cocktails is a crime. If they play their cards right, they might wind up being law professors.

Don't you think it is time to face the truth about recent events in American cities?  Looting and vandalism in Minneapolis are not demonstrations as one news commentator stated; they are riots.  Nordstrom stores were not" impacted" by violent demonstrators, as Nordstrom's corporate message attested. They were looted.  Target stores were not shut down by a "demonstration," as Target's CEO described events in Minneapolis. They were vandalized.

Everyone of goodwill understands that Derek Chauvin, a Minneapolis police officer, committed a criminal act when he killed George Floyd. But that event, shocking as it is, does not justify two people, who are both sworn to uphold the U.S. Constitution, to commit a criminal act--as Rahman and Mattis are accused of doing.

As Americans, we have a constitutional right to our own views, which cross a broad spectrum from right to left. But surely we can agree that something has gone awry when two graduates of highly esteemed law schools get arrested for trying to set a police car on fire.

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