Newswise — Since the election of 2020, issues of legal and judicial ethics have dominated the news. In just the last two weeks, we have seen a hearing concerning the nomination of the first black woman to the Supreme Court, revelations that the wife of a sitting Supreme Court Justice was deeply involved with efforts to overturn the results of that election, and a lawyer for the former President of the United States was encouraging the White House to engage in admittedly illegal conduct to oppose the certification of the election on January 6th, 2021.
Given these and previous events over the last 18 months, questions of legal and judicial ethics have emerged as critical to understanding the present political environment, including:
- Has Ginni Thomas’s behavior in the events leading up to the January 6th Insurrection warrant her husband’s recusal from future cases involving those events and is an impeachment of him likely or even justified?
- Does the fact that Jon Eastman’s behavior—and that of the former President—has been called “more likely than not” criminal mean that an indictment of those involved in President Trump’s inner circle, or even the former President himself, is imminent?
- Should any of the discussion of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s prior record as a sitting federal judge raise any doubt about her fitness to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court?
- To what extent did the lawyers for the effort to overturn the results of the 2020 election know that their conduct was baseless and unsupported by the facts and does that warrant their disbarment?
- As a conservative Supreme Court seems poised to narrow or eliminate critical fundamental rights, like the right to an abortion, are calls for reform of the Supreme Court, like expanding the Court, likely to grow louder and does such change have any chance of success?
These and other issues are likely to arise in the coming months and Ray Brescia, the Hon. Harold R. Tyler Chair in Law & Technology and a professor of law at Albany Law School, where he has taught for the last fifteen years, is an expert on legal and judicial ethics and the federal courts and can help make sense of these questions and events and place them in their historical context.
A graduate of Yale Law School and a former law clerk to the late Constance Baker Motley, Brescia has written extensively about legal ethics and the federal courts, including in the op-ed pages of The Washington Post, and online for Slate, and The Hill. He is the author of The Future of Change: How Technology Shapes Social Revolutions, and co-editor of Crisis Lawyering: Effective Legal Advocacy in Emergency Situations and How Cities Will Save the World: Urban Innovation in the Face of Population Flows, Climate Change, and Economic Inequality. His articles on legal ethics and the federal courts have appeared in such publications as the Georgetown Journal of Legal Ethics, and the Notre Dame Journal of Law, Ethics & Public Policy.