South Park metaphorically linked the 2004 election to a matchup between a turd sandwich and a giant douche. As bad as the Bush era had become, John Kerry came across as such a self-righteous tool it was hard to get swing voters psyched up to vote one way or the other. I think of this episode today as I approach the tale of two lawyers sniping at each other over Facebook about whether a woman deserves to have her parental rights terminated. It’s not that I think either is really wrong, as much as both of them exhibit the worst of their respective positions in their online feud.
So what did one entitled Biglaw lawyer say about a poor client, and what did a self-righteous public interest lawyer say in response? All bets final once you read past the jump….
This all kicks off with a young, first-year Biglaw associate serving a public interest externship. Public interest externships usually attract the more idealistic associates. Other times they attract entitled young lawyers who don’t understand basic professionalism and discretion. This is the latter case.
The names have been removed to protect the less-than-innocent, so we’ll be using the South Park avatars of “Turd Sandwich” and “Giant Douche” to represent both participants:
Chalk one more up to the Young Jeezy School of Parenting. “Imma do me” is a perfectly fine worldview, but if that’s your stance, you can’t really complain when your kid ends up part of the system.
So lawyers probably shouldn’t be taking to Facebook to mock the people in the case file. Not only does it reflect badly on your professionalism, but if an agency committed to working these cases harbors lawyers with the mentality that public ridicule is acceptable for those unfortunate souls subjected to the system, it reflects poorly on the agency you represent. That said, without seeing the entire record, the woman in question does not sound like someone prepared to take care of a kid.
Eventually, our entitled young lawyer got some comeuppance in the form of a lawyer with a public defender’s office. Enter Giant Douche:
Child services is rife with problems. Yeah, we get it. Turd Sandwich makes a valiant effort at backpedaling, recognizing that there are problems at nearly every level of social services. This doesn’t excuse the original lapse in judgment involved in ripping a mother in public, but it shows a comprehension of the problem. Certainly this is sufficient proof that our Biglaw associate wasn’t trying to signal a complete lack of compassion and we can put this all behind us.
Oh dammit! They kept going:
The ACS system is a mess and is woefully ill-applied, but when someone pointing out the need for general reform crosses the line into being an apologist for specific cases, it undermines the whole endeavor. When conservatives can point and say, “They want to keep social services from protecting a kid from a self-absorbed drug addict? See! They have no concept of personal responsibility, yadda, yadda, yadda, cut taxes,” it justifies the whole “screw ‘em all” mentality. It’s perfectly acceptable to say, “Don’t make fun of unfortunate drug addicted mothers,” and “The system is busted and we should never make any judgments without taking that totality of circumstances into account,” without venturing into “This woman may deserve the benefit of the doubt before having her kid taken away until she gets her act together.”
Anyway, stop making fun of people in your cases.