Knife at Gun Fight

Never Bring a Knife to a Gun Fight

By Ken K. Gourdin

A Utah driver pulled a knife on a Utah Highway Patrol trooper who stopped him for speeding in a construction zone.  See coverage of the incident in Salt Lake City’s Deseret News here (last accessed June 12, 2017):

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865662865/Police-Man-threatened-UHP-trooper-with-knife-after-being-pulled-over.html

I commented:

Never bring a knife to a gun fight. Reminds me of the time two guys, one with a baseball bat and the other with a tire iron, confronted each other on the local main street. My father, who served on the town’s police force for 30 years, pulled up. The one said, “I’ve got a baseball bat”; the other said, “I’ve got a tire iron.”; my father reached down, unholstered his duty weapon, and said, “And I’ve got a .357.” Guess who won?

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Defending Defenders

Wherein I Rise in Defense of Defense Attorneys—and of One, in Particular

By Ken K. Gourdin

A few years ago, former Federal Defender Stephen B. Killpack was attacked in his home after a then-unknown assailant broke in and seriously assaulted him. (Full disclosure: I know, like, and respect Mr. Killpack. He was an adjunct professor of mine in law school. We do not have any kind of relationship currently, and I’m sure he would neither recognize me nor remember me no matter how much I tried to jog his memory.)

For coverage of the sentencing of Mr. Killpack’s assailant, see the following address (last accessed June 10, 2017): http://archive.sltrib.com/story.php?ref=/sltrib/news/56895567-78/wall-killpack-prison-attack.html.csp. In response to a comment (long since deleted by the site’s moderators) which stated that Mr. Killpack essentially got what he deserved because of his profession, I responded (this list originally was numbered, but the system turned my formatting hinky; thanks, WordPress!):

Mr. Killpack was a defense attorney for many years. Still think he’s a blood sucker?

Though he could have made much more in private practice, he was a federal defense attorney [a federal public defender], which means he was a salaried employee. Though I’m sure he made a reasonably comfortable living, he wasn’t “raking it in” by any means.

Everybody hates attorneys … until they need one.

Nobody, blood sucker or not, deserves what happened to Mr. Killpack.

Another commenter jumped on the anti-attorney bandwagon, claiming that even people who need attorneys hate them, and that the primary reason why people need attorneys so often is simply because there are so many attorneys. I responded:

Respectfully, that comment betrays a limited understanding of the scope of what attorneys do. Only a small percentage of attorneys are litigators, and even many litigators spend only a comparatively-small percentage of their time in the courtroom. Good attorneys win in litigation; great attorneys do their jobs well enough to avoid it. I also dispute your contention that even those who need attorneys hate them: repeated studies have shown that a client’s relationship with an attorney is affected most, not by the outcome of the case in which the attorney represents the client, but rather by such factors as whether the client felt the attorney really listened to him, understood his concerns, made his goals a priority in the representation, and so on. Even when the outcome of a case or representation isn’t favorable to the client, attorneys who do these things are far more respected by their clients than those who do not, and by and large, that includes the vast majority of people in the profession.

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More on Gary Ott

Gary Ott, Salt Lake County Recorder: Still Incompetent; Karmen Sanone, the Recorder’s Secretary and Purported Girlfriend, and Julie Dole, the Recorder’s Deputy: Still on the Gravy Train

By Ken K. Gourdin

I first commented on Salt Lake County Recorder Gary Ott’s situation last October.  A Grantsville, Utah police officer in Tooele County reportedly found a confused, nearly-incoherent Mr. Ott wandering around in freezing temperatures in the vicinity of his vehicle, which had a dead battery, last year.  Salt Lake City’s Deseret News recently posted audio of a lengthy interview the News’ Katie McKellar had with Mr. Ott on its Web site.  Near the end of that interview, Mr. Ott says, “Today I got to talk.”  While Mr. Ott is incoherent throughout much of the interview, to me, the implication of that particular statement is clear: “Usually, Karmen and Julie keep a pretty good muzzle on me, but today, I got to talk.”  For my previous commentary on the situation, see here, this and all other links last accessed June 9, 2017:

https://greatgourdini.wordpress.com/2016/10/05/exploitation-by-underlings/.

In the above-linked post, I wondered if those closest to Mr. Ott might be guilty of exploiting him.  One of the complexities of the situation, though, is that whatever else they may be guilty of, the conduct of two of Mr. Ott’s closest professional associates probably does not fit exploitation as that crime is defined under Utah law.  I made that point in response to recent Deseret News coverage of Mr. Ott’s situation, coverage which can be found here: http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865681671/Embattled-recorder-Gary-Otts-sister-accuses-top-staff-of-manipulation.html 

I responded:

To all of the attorneys on the site who have determined that Ms. [Julie] Dole [Mr. Ott’s Chief Deputy] and Ms. [Karmen] Sanone [Mr. Ott’s secretary and reported wife, girlfriend, or significant other] should be prosecuted for Abuse, Neglect, or Exploitation of a Vulnerable Adult under Utah Code Annotated Title 76, Chapter 5, § 111. Keep in mind, County Attorney Sim Gill is a Democrat. He has no political incentive to protect the subordinates of Mr. Ott, who is a Republican, so if it were really that simple, he would simply charge Ms. Dole and/or Ms. Sanone under that statute and be done with the matter. I’m not arguing that neither Dole nor Sanone have done anything criminal or unethical, but they probably haven’t violated that particular statute.

I’m not an attorney, but I’ve read the statute. Broadly and generally speaking, abuse involves some form of active mistreatment. Whatever they’re doing, it isn’t that. Neglect involves not caring for someone’s basic needs when he’s unable to care for himself. Whatever they’re doing (or not), it isn’t that. To exploit someone means to get him to use his own resources for someone else’s benefit. Since the resources involved come from the County and not from Mr. Ott, that provision of the statute probably doesn’t apply.

In response to the foregoing, another poster, directing his reply to me, pointed me that Utah law mandates that anyone who reasonably believes that abuse, neglect, or exploitation of a vulnerable adult is occurring has a duty to report such mistreatment to the appropriate law enforcement agency.  I responded:

Thank you for referring me to Utah Code Ann. Title 62A, Chapter 3, § 305. It would seem that this particular provision of Utah law has been satisfied by Jeremy Roberts [who apparently is a friend of Mr. Ott] notifying the County Attorney of potential exploitation of Mr. Ott and requesting that the County Attorney investigate the matter, would it not? (If you believe, for some reason, that Mr. Roberts’ notification is insufficient, perhaps you could explain why you believe that.)

If Mr. Roberts’ notifying the County Attorney of his concerns is sufficient to satisfy that particular provision, it seems to me that the issue is not that no one, pursuant to 62A-3-305, has notified law enforcement that exploitation may be occurring, but, rather, whether such exploitation is, in fact, occurring, and, if so, what should be done about it.

Salt Lake Tribune coverage of the situation can be found at the following address: http://www.sltrib.com/news/5377363-155/gary-ott-should-resign-sl-county .   In response to commentary on Salt Lake Tribune coverage of the situation, in response to another poster who implied that Ms. Dole and Ms. Sanone are guilty of exploitation, I responded:

I had the very same thought as you did before I read the exploitation statute. Again, I’m not suggesting that Mr. Ott’s subordinates are not engaged in some form of unethical or illegal conduct, but that conduct does not appear to violate Utah Code Ann. §76-5-111. Exploitation is covered in Subparagraph (4), and it makes clear that in order to be guilty of exploitation, the exploiter must facilitate the misuse of the vulnerable adult’s own resources for the exploiter’s benefit. Since the resources in question, rather than being Mr. Ott’s personal resources, are the County’s resources, the statute doesn’t seem to apply. If I am wrong, and if, in fact, the statute does apply, why hasn’t County Attorney Sim Gill, a Democrat who has no incentive to protect the subordinates of Mr. Ott (a Republican), filed criminal charges in the matter?

Another poster, in response to Tribune coverage, excoriated Utah voters, as though they voted for Mr. Ott knowing that he was suffering from diminished capacity.  Tribune coverage can be found here: http://www.sltrib.com/news/5377363-155/gary-ott-should-resign-sl-county.  I responded:

I don’t know about you, but if I lived in Salt Lake County and someone’s mental fitness for the [position] to which he was seeking election were in question, I wouldn’t vote for him. I think, whatever else you can say about Utah voters, that the same is true of many/most of them. I would like to know what Salt Lake County Republican Party officials knew and when they knew it, and whether they allowed Mr. Ott’s campaign to go forward despite any questions that should have been raised. I would also like to know what role, if any, Karmen Sanone and Julie Dole played in Mr. Ott’s reelection.

When another poster, in response to Tribune coverage, accused Mr. Ott of “ripping off” Salt Lake County voters, I replied, “I doubt Mr. Ott, in his current mental state, could form the requisite intent to do that.”  Similarly, when another poster made a similar accusation, I responded:

Theft requires an intent to deprive the owner of property. I doubt Mr. Ott has the mental state required to form the necessary intent. Now, if you want to argue that other people ([COUGH-COUGH]Julie Dole and Karmen Sanone[/COUGH-COUGH]) are exploiting the situation for their own purposes and benefit, you’ll have a much better argument.

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Sexual Harassment at FOXNews

On Roger Ailes, Bill O’Reilly, FOX News, Conservative Media, Conservatism, Conservatives, and Alleged Sexual Harassment

By Ken K. Gourdin

FOX News’ prime time programming lineup has changed considerably in recent months, with the formerly longtime number-one rated cable news show The O’Reilly Factor being replaced by Tucker Carlson Tonight. I admit, I was a regular viewer of Mr. O’Reilly’s program; however, I was not ignorant of accusations of sexual harassment against him over the years, nor of the several million dollars in payouts he has made, essentially to buy his accusers’ silence.

Similar allegations dogged conservative programming icon Roger Ailes before Ailes’ death earlier this year. There was no shortage of laudatory commentary among FOX News personalities about Ailes following his death. It cannot be overlooked, however, that litigation was pending against Ailes for alleged sexual harassment, and a not-inconsiderable amount of FOX News’ on-air female talent has departed in recent months, at least in part based on Mr. Ailes’ alleged mistreatment of women in his employ. However, the silence regarding the allegation against Mr. Ailes among those who lauded his contributions to conservative media has been deafening, including the silence of the panelists on The Five, of Tucker Carlson, of Sean Hannity, and of conservative radio titan Rush Limbaugh

It is absolutely true that the only people who know for sure what happened between Mr. O’Reilly and his accusers and between Mr. Ailes and his accusers are the parties involved. It is also true that the potential for spurious accusations exists. However, the higher the number of accusers, and the more consistent the allegations among them, the more difficult it becomes to conclude, in the face of such a number of consistent allegations, that there’s no “there there.” While they are not as serious as the allegations leveled against the Messrs. Ailes and O’Reilly, and while (thankfully!) they do not involve sexual harassment, your humble correspondent has (read “I have”) been the victim of false allegations which are likely to tarnish my professional reputation permanently (which is part of the reason why law is nothing but an expensive hobby of mine).

That said, the easiest way to steer clear of allegations such as the ones which dogged the Messrs. O’Reilly and Ailes is to not engage in the conduct in which they are alleged to have engaged—and to avoid even doing anything of the sort. I’m terribly old-fashioned, and I find it difficult to separate the product produced by these men from their alleged private conduct—and the same is true of President Donald J. Trump, even if, from a policy standpoint, he ends up being one of the most successful presidents in history. I suppose I should not be so naive as to expect such private rectitude from public figures, but a point of pride for me as someone who leans conservative is that historically, there has been little difference between the private persona and the public persona of the vast majority of candidates and officeholders I tend to support. Sadly, perhaps that is no longer the case.

The old-fashioned nature of this ideal notwithstanding, however, the bottom line is that to get my full, unqualified support, a candidate, officeholder, or commentator should do his best to see to it that there is little difference between his public and private personas. As Thoreau is reported to have said once, “What you are stands over you, all the while thundering so loudly that I cannot hear what you say to the contrary.” And as the poet Edgar A. Guest put it, “I have to live with myself, and so, I want to be fit for myself to know.” As old-fashioned as this idea has become in modern life, I still think that character counts.

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Kaepernick and NFL Employment

On the Unemployment of NFL Quarterback Collin Kaepernick, on Kaepernick’s Protest (and His Right to Do So), and on the First Amendment

By Ken K. Gourdin

Doug Robinson of Salt Lake City’s Deseret News commented on the reluctance of National Football League teams to employ former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Collin Kaepernick following Kaepernick’s refusal to stand during the national anthem at games last season as as a protest against alleged police brutality and unjustified deaths of minorities at the hands of police. Robinson’s column is here (last accessed June 7, 2017):

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865681498/Doug-Robinson-NFL-should-feel-no-pressure-to-hire-Kaepernick.html.

While I am not naive enough to believe that police brutality never occurs, and although those who do so have every right to protest so-called “questionable” deaths at the hands of police and so-called cases of “police brutality”, those who so protest may wish to increase their chances of the public taking them seriously by picking their battles a little better. For instance, Utahns Against Police Brutality called the death of Jose Angel Garcia Jauregui a case of “police brutality” even though police killed Jauregui only after he had shot and killed one officer and shot and wounded another.

I suspect that, similarly, Kaepernick fails adequately to consider the underlying circumstances of many of the cases of so-called “police brutality” he is protesting. And yes, Kaepernick has every right to protest, as long as he’s willing to live with the consequences. No one owes him a job, and the refusal of any NFL team to employ him (even if they simply disagree with his views and/or with his propensity to protest) does not violate the First Amendment because the NFL is not the government.

Reportedly, by virtue of the fact that he has been seen wearing a t-shirt featuring the likeness of (thankfully-deceased!) Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, Kaepernick believes Castro somehow is worthy of emulation, and/or that he is a champion of human rights. In contrast to Kaepernick’s judgment, thankfully, history’s judgment of Castro will be much harsher (and more accurate) than Kaepernick’s judgment of him. I suppose, contrary to Kaepernick’s stance as revealed in his purported protest, that mistreatment and murder of minorities actually is acceptable, depending on who’s engaging in the mistreatment and committing the murder.

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On Doing for Others

On Throwing Oneself a Pity Party, on Becoming Completely Wrapped Up in the World’s Smallest Possible Package—and on Escaping Those Confines and Expanding Beyond Them By Doing Something Good for Someone Else: Former High-Profile NFL Prospect Finds His True Purpose in, of All Places, Prison

By Ken K. Gourdin

On more than one occasion, I have been tempted to use various of my circumstances—a physical challenge, a behavioral health diagnosis, unemployment, underemployment, lack of fulfillment at work, lack of fulfillment in relationships—as (a) perfect excuse(s) to throw myself a Pity Party. Alas, the trouble with Pity Parties is that the guest list rarely is more than one name long. And even long after the party’s over, the excuse for throwing it remains. And someone who is all wrapped up in himself makes for a very small package.

The truth—and I don’t mean this to seem as stark and as dire as it’s going to seem—is that nobody cares. Don’t get the wrong idea. It’s not that they’re unsympathetic; it’s simply that the nature of life usually provides each of us with more than enough to handle when it comes to addressing our own challenges, let alone helping anyone else address theirs. And however much they might care, in most cases, the reality is that their ability to do anything to address your problem is limited. Other than God, the only person with enough wherewithal to address your problems successfully is you.

Former National Football League quarterback Ryan Leaf, widely considered one of the biggest busts (if not the biggest bust) in NFL draft history, found himself in much the same situation after a very high profile career flameout. Our choice may not seem as stark as Mr. Leaf’s, but each one of us have to decide, is the sum-total of who we are, of our worth as human beings (in fact, I would put an even finer point on it by saying our worth as children of God), determined by how well we perform as an athlete, in our work, as a student, or in any other area of life? Or is our worth determined by something deeper? Are we human doings, or are we human beings?

Mr. Leaf certainly has had his share of such problems. His high-profile career flameout was accompanied by other failures, including drug abuse, a criminal record, and a stretch in prison. But it was in prison where a fellow inmate taught Mr. Leaf that he is more than his accomplishments and, more to the point, that he is more than his failures. For all of the seeming fulfillment his in certain areas of his life may have brought him—or for all the emptiness his failure in those same areas may have brought him—it was in prison that Mr. Leaf finally discovered that his true worth lies in his ability and in his willingness to do something good and something worthwhile for another person.

It was a conversation with another inmate which convinced Mr. Leaf that, whatever his failures, his faults, and his shortcomings, whatever his life to that point might leave be desired, he still had something worthwhile to offer his fellow human beings—something more than his ability to throw a perfect spiral, to throw touchdowns, or to lead his team on a last-second game-winning drive. As Jesus Christ taught, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least, of these, my brethren, ye have done it unto me” (Matthew 25:40), and “[W]hosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it” (Matthew 16:25).

For coverage of Mr. Leaf’s epiphany and of the change it reportedly wrought in his life, see Jake Becker’s story at the New York Daily News, available at the following address and last accessed June 6, 2017: http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/football/ryan-leaf-teaching-fellow-prisoners-read-changed-life-article-1.2995862. Best wishes to Mr. Leaf for continued sobriety, for continued success in his recovery, and, most importantly, for continued fulfillment in the service of others.

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Griffin v. Trump

Griffin v. Trump: On the First Amendment, on Government Criticism, and on the Boundaries of Good Taste

By Ken K. Gourdin

Comedienne” Kathy Griffin—quotation marks used to denote that I don’t think anything Ms. Griffin has ever said or done, or anything she will ever say or do, is all that funny—received tremendous blowback (and rightly so) for tweeting a picture of a mock beheading of President Donald J. Trump with herself holding the president’s severed head. (Though, as I note below, I’m no particular fan of the president.)

In a move which has the fingerprints of her public relations handlers all over it, Ms. Griffin issued a “heartfelt” apology, acknowledging that she crossed—or, pehaps better said, she obliterated—the boundaries of good taste (though there’s no evidence that she was even aware such boundaries existed prior to this incident) and assuring the United States Secret Service that she harbors no terroristic or criminal ill-will against the president.

While it’s certainly possible that Ms. Griffin genuinely recognizes the dire inappropriateness of her actions, I think it is far more likely that she’s simply “sorry” about the aftermath—the consequences, the loss in public esteem, and most importantly, the loss of paying gigs, endorsement deals, and so on.

To be sure, the recent drop in civility of our public and political discourse is concerning. More than that, though, the popularity of such marginally-talented acts as Ms. Griffin’s illustrates the coarsening of society as a whole. It hardly seems sufficient that the only thing I can do is simply decline to patronize the Ms. Griffins of the world and to encourage those within my sphere of influence to do likewise.

For coverage of the Griffin-Trump controversy which appeared in Salt Lake City’s Deseret News, see here (this and all other links last accessed June 5, 2017):

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865681041/Mitt-Romney-Squatty-Potty-respond-to-Kathy-Griffins-beheaded-Trump-gag.html.

I commented as follows:

Some people think any publicity is good publicity. Perhaps Ms. Griffin falls into that camp. If so, it worked: basically, I ignored her until this latest stunt received wide coverage in the mainstream media, so … mission accomplished, Ms. Griffin? Congratulations for, basically, being famous for being famous. (I’ve found that often, fame is inversely proportional to talent.) Yes, the First Amendment does guarantee us the freedom to say almost anything about government and its officials, but simply because one can do something doesn’t necessarily mean one should. I, too, I have grave misgivings about Mr. Trump. The thing is, stunts such as the one Ms. Griffin pulled serve only to galvanize his supporters even more, providing further evidence, in their minds, that his opponents believe nothing is out of bounds when it comes to criticizing him.

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