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Texas Law Prof Explains Why Black Kids Fail. Plus, Lawyer Tells Judge to F#*k Off!

The Careerist

December 12, 2012

Ready for another installment of lawyers and judges who say or do ridiculous things. Here are some standouts: 

Babies ©BlendImagesFotoliaKids raised by single black moms are bound not to be so smart—unless they're interviewing you. If you've been pondering why African Americans lag behind academically, University of Texas law professor Lino Graglia has the explanation. Recently, Graglia was interviewed on BBC Radio about affirmative action at UT and offered his theories about blacks' academic struggles. The ABA Law Blog reports:

Asked why blacks were underperforming, Graglia said he didn’t know, but acknowledged some speculation. “It is the case that the single parent household, the child born outside of marriage, today is approaching three-quarters in the black population,” he said. “I can hardly imagine a less beneficial or more deleterious experience than to be raised by a single parent, usually a female, uneducated, without a lot of money.”

What was awkward was that the BBC interviewer Gary Younge turned out to be black and raised by a single parent. Here's how Graglia responded when Younge asked the professor about how he was presumably lacking in intelligence, according to the ABA blog:

“Well from listening to you,” Graglia replied, “and knowing what you are and what you’ve done, I suspect you are rather more smart. My guess would be that you are above usual smartness, for whites, to say nothing of blacks.”

Oops—that didn't sound so smart, did it, professor?

Use the F-word in court—and you will pay have hell to pay (in South Carolina). Which one went over the edge—the lawyer who muttered to a court official that the judge should "get the f--- off all my cases"? Or the judge who held the lawyer in contempt and sentenced him to jail for that utterance?

As a New Yorker, it's hard to believe that anyone can be so rattled by profanity. Plus, I believe in the therapeutic benefits of cursing. But the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit doesn't share my view. It upheld the conviction and four-month jail sentence of South Carolina lawyer Robert Peoples for using the four-letter word to describe his feelings to a court official (he was upset that  judge Cameron McGowan Currie had dismissed a civil rights suit because of his tardiness to court). Here's the court's reasoning, reports The National Law Journal:

"He targeted a judge, using profane language directed at the judge so that she would remove herself from his cases," Judge Diana Motz wrote in the Fourth Circuit opinion. "Thus, Peoples did more than merely utter profane words; he profanely threatened judicial authority."

Okay, granted Peoples didn't use the most elegant turn of phrase to describe his frustration with the judge. But he uttered the F-word in an empty courtroom. Is this really a threat to the administration of justice? Isn't all this mess a colossal waste of time? (Peoples is now petitioning the U.S. Supreme Court to throw out his conviction.)

I mean, don't you think the judge is the one who's a tad thin-skinned? Seriously, I don't think she'd survive a day in New York.

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The careerist stated, "As a New Yorker, it's hard to believe that anyone can be so rattled by profanity."

For years, I have tried to explain to Northerners and South Floridians that the use of profanity with a Southerner is a reflection of the lack of genteelity of the individual user and serves as a very quick way to incite a Southerner to resolving the matter by violence.

To use such language in the presence of a "lady," is an insult to the lady and any gentlemen accompanying her or in his presence.

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I have no idea what part of the South you are from, but from my experiences in the military I found southerners to be far more profane in general than Yankees. Not that it matters. Only a lawyer/judge would be so hung up on words. The meaning is the message, but you Sophists forgot that centuries/millenia ago.


The university of Texas is a great school, but has had several bad headlines involving race in the past few months, this being one of them. Was the wording of the question really "why are blacks under performing" ? It's such a general question the professor should have declined to comment. Anything he said would have made him look bad.

The careerist stated, "As a New Yorker, it's hard to believe that anyone can be so rattled by profanity."

For years, I have tried to explain to Northerners and South Floridians that the use of profanity with a Southerner is a reflection of the lack of genteelity of the individual user and serves as a very quick way to incite a Southerner to resolving the matter by violence.

To use such language in the presence of a "lady," is an insult to the lady and any gentlemen accompanying her or in his presence.

Well, it IS South Carolina.

I recommend this thoughtful law review article by UCLA Law School professor Richard Sandler on affirmative action in law school. Prior to his his exhaustive research, his personal view was that affirmative action was beneficial. The results changed his mind. http://www.law.berkeley.edu/faculty/rubinfeldd/SanderFINAL.pdf


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The Careerist takes an inside look at how lawyers shape their careers and manage their lives. The blog aims to dissect developments in the profession, provide useful information and advice, and give lawyers a platform to voice their views. The goal is to provide a fresh, provocative take on the state of lawyering.

About Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen, The Careerist's chief blogger, has been covering the business and culture of law firms for a decade. A former corporate lawyer, Chen is fascinated by those who thrive (as well as those who don't) in the legal profession. Her take: Success in the law (and life) doesn't always travel a linear path. If you have topics you'd like to discuss or information to share, contact her: [email protected]

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