The Supreme Court is struggling with the question of whether the depiction of certain dog-fighting can be prohibited under the First Amendment. Frequently protecting freedom of speech brings us some unwanted results. It brought us advertising by lawyers. The first time I saw a TV advertisement showing a portly man in his bathing suit smoking a cigar for the apparent purpose of equating his competence with his lavish surroundings, I feared that the law had become a business rather than a profession.
Which brings me to the subject of Gloria Allred, who like a magical puff of smoke appears and injects herself into matters in which she has no client or connection. She has written to David Letterman, displayed a poster with advice for him and given interviews regarding his admitted affairs. She has suggested (without a modicum of proof) that he may have been guilty of sexual harassment of those with whom he had an affair. But in seeking the Ambulance Chaser Award of the Year, she suggests that those employees who did NOT have an affair with David Letterman may have sexual harassment claims.
Her reasoning is that if those who had the affairs benefited in some way, than those who did not were sexually harassed by the hostile workplace created (and that of course assumes that they knew of the affairs). I take it that she advocates an equal opportunity employer--if the boss has sex with one or more employees, he must have it with all or face the consequences.
She takes it one step further by suggesting that the male employees may also have a claim, because Letterman was obviously interested in women only and therefore, they were adversely affected because they did not receive the (yet undisclosed) largess others received!
So that there will be no mistake about my intentions. I am not a defender of David Letterman's conduct if it should amount to sexual harassment. I am a devoted advocate of free speech and fierce opponent of sexual harassment, but I am also a proud member of the legal profession. When lawyers speculate about wrongdoing, advance claims without factual basis and utilize those techniques to obtain clients, I wince for all of us who view the practice of law as an honorable and worthy profession. This conduct may bring in business, but it demeans the profession and feeds the public's disgust for it.
Note: In the old common law champerty and maintenance were prohibited. According to Wikipedia "maintenance was the intermeddling of an uninterested party to encourage a lawsuit."
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