Those responsible for the conduct of Minnesota judges use the phrase “protecting the public.”
What do we need to really “protect the public?” And should we put up with that phrase being used to justify actions that are really just covering up judicial misconduct?
In the case In re Graham, the Minnesota Supreme Court in 1990 held that lawyer speech should be treated differently, because the mission of the lawyer ethics rules is to “protect the public.” This was disingenuous at best. What In re Graham did (earlier post here) was to protect judges from criticism by lawyers. This not only stripped lawyers of their First Amendment rights, but it meant that lawyers, the most effective articulators of judicial misconduct, were silenced.
I can tell you that in my community, the overwhelming number of lawyers quake in their shoes, afraid to identify let alone speak out about judicial misconduct.
This does not “protect the public.” This puts the public in harm’s way.
It means bad judges are not held accountable.
And that means they are free to continue their bad conduct: harming parties who come before the court, harming lawyers, harming court staff.
We, the public, have a right to speak out against this “PR” use of the phrase “protecting the public.” We have a right to define what protects us, and to demand that that real-life, modern definition of the phrase “protecting the public” is applied.
Watch for additional posts on this topic.
And by the way…I’m back!!! Try as some people may, I am not going to relinquish my right as an American to discuss this topic.