Friday, February 26, 2021

Another example of reporters fixing wrongdoing in the legal system

       One theme I cover in this blog, is the idea that certain lawyers will do immoral things until someone shines a light. For example, see this post about lawyers who reportedly covered up sexual assault until #MeToo. Or this post discussing lawyers and a judge who reportedly covered up the opioid crisis until someone leaked documents to a reporter. Another such example is in the news (links one, two, and three.) It has to do with a new movie, I Care a Lot. 

       A lot of people were disturbed by the movie's legal implications. For example, the actress Kirstie Alley said she was "horrified" by the plot and wondered, "can this really happen?" Yes, yes it can. The legal parts of the movie are essentially true stories. Watch the movie, write down the legal and courtroom events, and then read this article by Rachel Aviv to see how they happened in real life. Of course, not all of the movie was true. Without spoiling it, its ending was made up. The real-world version didn't end that way. 

       How did the decades-long scam end in real life? A little Las Vegas newspaper called The Vegas Voice ended it. One story in that tiny paper and suddenly the court official, who had ignored complaints by desperate family members for years, was “chastened” and changed his ways. That same day, the real-life version of the movie’s antagonist texted her husband, “I am finished.”

       It wasn't lawyers who fixed this. The legal system allowed this injustice to go on for years. As you can see in this blog, the legal profession contains a mix of people. Some are good, and some are the most opportunistic and money-grubbing people you will ever meet -- people with the same personality that you saw in the movie's antagonist. If law firms like O'Melveny publicly compete with each other to see who can make the most "profits per partner," then you can probably guess at their raison d'être; it's not justice or fairness, it's money. Like the fictional Marla Grayson, some lawyers view the legal system as nothing more than a means to wealth, just a way to get rich. 

       It was a journalist who fixed the injustice. So please take time to appreciate the work of good journalists. They devote their lives to doing the right thing, not for the money, but because it’s the right thing to do. And please also appreciate the founders for the First Amendment and, of course, the decent lawyers and judges who help keep it strong. 

       [Addendum: After winning a Golden Globe for her performance, Rosamund Pike thanked "America's broken legal system" for making it all possible.]