There have been a lot of developments in legal ethics both nationally and in Tennessee over the last few weeks, and I hope to be catching up on discussing those in posts over the coming weeks.
But not today.
Tennessee like most jurisdictions has a version of RPC 6.1 about pro bono service and calls for an aspirational goal for each lawyer to deliver 50 hours of such service and while those hours are supposed to be primarily directed at actual legal representations, the rule does also address the ability to do so by participating in activities for improving the law, the legal system, or the legal profession.
In a small, personal effort to do a little bit of that today. I want to do two things.
First, with full awareness that it includes within its recitation of shameful events that have been whitewashed from the teaching of history a massacre in my home city of Memphis, I encourage everyone who is reading this to go take 6 minutes to watch this video that has been put together by the Equal Justice Institute in connection with the release of its Reconstruction in America report: https://youtu.be/HRj35PtXnLs
If it moves you to do so, you can, through the www.eji.org website get a copy of the full report to read.
Second, to highlight just one vein of examples of how these problems are still ongoing, it is hard to pay attention these days to all of the important news – as it is constant – but a story that is not yet getting the scrutiny it deserves is that there have now been 6 people of color found dead hanging in trees over the last several weeks in locations spanning from California to Texas to New York to Oregon. Each of these has been initially reported by police to have been suicides.
You can read one of the most recent articles about this here.
I can only speak for myself, but I do not believe at all that any black man, woman, or child in 2020 in the United States who commits suicide would do so by hanging themselves from a tree.
When you look around at what is happening in this moment in history, the Occam’s Razor answer to this is not to believe the contents of the initial police reports but to reach the conclusion that it much more likely that these are homicides.
They deserve justice.