When I was young, I practiced law in a small Alaska law firm. Those years were the best years of my life. I was proud to be a licensed attorney, under oath to protect the Constitution and to be honest.
A lot of Alaskans hate lawyers, especially outside the cities. I remember eating lunch with my family at a roadhouse on the Glenallen highway. I was chatting with some guy from the bush sitting at the next table.
The guy asked me what I did for a living, and I told him I was an attorney. He immediately became loudly abusive. He called me a crook and a lot of other things. We had to leave the restaurant with our food half-eaten to get away from him.
I remember that I wasn't angry about the incident. I was just sorry that I had been unable to make this jerk understand that the law is a noble profession.
Later, I became a college professor, and I quickly realized that attorneys, on the whole, are smarter and more ethical than the people who work in the universities. A lot smarter and a lot more ethical.
I am very sorry to see the legal profession transforming itself from being an honest calling to a racket. And there's plenty of blame to go around.
First of all, when the market for lawyers began shrinking in the late 1990s, the law schools didn't shrink their graduating classes. They needed the tuition revenue, and the second- and third-tier schools began lowering admission standards.
Before long, pass rates on the state bar exams began going down because a significant percentage of law graduates weren't intelligent enough to pass the bar exam. In California, only 26.8 percent of bar-exam takers passed the state bar exam that was administered last February.
Second, as everyone knows, federal judges ceased being people who were dedicated to the rule of law and became political partisans. We see this trend most dramatically in the U.S.Supreme Court. We have Republican justices, and we have Democrat justices.
Among the lower courts, judges are being called out for corruption and bias. There are plenty of examples in Louisiana, but I saw cronyism and favoritism in the Massachusetts judiciary, and it's not a pretty thing to see.
A few days ago, the Louisiana Supreme Court ruled 4 to 3 to allow 2020 law graduates to begin practicing law without taking the Louisiana bar exam--ever. What's the rationale for this boneheaded move? The coronavirus pandemic. Apparently, it is just too damned difficult to administer the bar exam through social distancing.
Louisiana Supreme Court Justice John Weimer, who voted for the move, has a daughter who graduated from LSU's law school this year. Justice Weimer refused to recuse himself from voting on this important matter even though his vote benefited his daughter.
Typically, one out of four first-time test takers fails the Louisiana bar exam. Thus, it appears that the Louisiana Supreme Court unleashed a fair number of unqualified people to begin practicing law in the Pelican State.
People used to say, "Let justice be done, though the heavens fall," a ringing endorsement of honesty and integrity in the American judicial system. But we know now that the phrase is just bullshit.
Our new motto: It's a good thing to know the law, but it is a better thing to know the judge.
|Louisiana Supreme Court Justice John L. Weimer: It's a good thing to know the judge.|