Once we graduate college, most of us limit our foolishness to April 1st. Jack Marshall, a self-proclaimed ethicist and president of ProEthics, seems to live every day in folly.
A law blogger, Eric Turkewitz, played a practical joke on the blogosphere: He posted that he had become Barack Obama's official law blogger. Law bloggers whose ethics can't reasonably be questioned joined in on the joke, publicizing Turkewitz's new job. Many laughs were had.
On April 2nd, everyone returned to reality. Everyone, that is, except Jack Marshall.
Jack Marshall not not laugh. Lacking a sense of humor is not a sin. What Mr. Marshall did next, however, is the worst thing a person can do: He levied serious accusations against Mr. Turkewitz.
Jack Marshall, who teaches legal ethics seminars, accused Turkewitz of professional misconduct. For those of you who aren't lawyers, it's hard to appreciate the seriousness of these accusations.
Accusing a lawyer of professional misconduct is similar to accusing someone of a crime. A lawyer who commits professional misconduct can lose his law license. Without a law license, a lawyer cannot practice law. All of those years of education and work go down the drain. Being found to have committed professional misconduct - in real-life implications - is the equivalent of being convicted of a felony.
Nevertheless, Jack Marshall levied these most odious accusations. Lacking any gravitas or appreciation for the seriousness of his false accusation, Marshall ranted and raved - like a pro se litigant.
He has yet to cite any case or State Bar Opinion establishing that playing an April Fool's Day joke is professional misconduct. Instead, he is trying to rely on himself as an authority.
Some folks are taking this much better than I am. Scott Greenfeld humiliated Marshall at Simple Justice (and here). Levying a false accusation against a lawyer - or anyone else - is serious. Yet that is what Jack Marshall did. Shaming the shameless feels lacking in proportion to what Mr. Marshall has done.
Anyone considering hiring Mr. Marshall should read this post. Ask yourself: Is someone who accuses a lawyer of professional misconduct yet cites not even a single judicial or State Bar Opinion someone whose expertise or judgment you should trust? Should Mr. Marshall be approved as a CLE provider, given that he made false accusations against a lawyer - charges which he has not supported with any legal authority?