Block on Trump's Asylum Ban Upheld by Supreme Court
As if lawyers needed another reminder to be mindful of what they say on social media, a (former) lawyer for the Florida Department of Corrections appears to have been forced to resign over a Facebook post that made some rather racially divisive statements.
While free speech is certainly a hallmark of our nation, and something that lawyers don’t just give up by virtue of being a lawyer, the First Amendment is not a shield for stupidity. Frankly, if free speech puts a racist or sexist foot in your mouth, you should consider yourself lucky if your employer gives you the opportunity to resign, rather than just terminating you.
What Did the Florida Lawyer Say?
The attorney wrote a rather lengthy comment about a video he saw on a theology professor’s Facebook page about the black community in the United States facing systemic racism. In a matter of hours after the comment was discovered by the media, the attorney tendered his resignation, and tried to explain away his statements.
His comments basically amounted to saying that black community and black culture are the black community’s problems, not systemic racism. And despite claiming to not be a racist, his post seemed to draw upon the worst of the worst stereotypes. He actually stated in that “Black people need to stop raping, murdering, stealing, and vandalizing, and quit having children out of wedlock.”
Perhaps the most shocking part is the fact that he worked in the habeas division, though, fortunately, as FDC representative explained, the attorney had no contact with inmates in his role.
The former government lawyer broke our first rule of not being dumb on social media: Avoid serious controversial opinions.
Simply put, attorneys need to avoid making public statements that undermine their credibility or have the potential to seriously damage their reputation, or the reputation of their clients. Statements like these, for government attorneys, seriously undermines the public’s trust in the system, particularly when nothing is done.