Friday, February 19, 2010

Toyota Camry Tests Positive for Steroid Use; CEO to Testify Before Congress

In a random drug test, the Toyota Camry has tested positive for steroid use. Now, Congress is hauling Akio Toyoda, the CEO of the company, to testify in hearings with national security implications. . . .

Not really, but Toyoda will appear before Congress to discuss recent safety recalls by the world's most popular car manufacturer. I tend to think that Congressional hearings questioning private individuals and businesses (e.g., for steroid use and other infractions) are usually a colossal waste of time. Before he testifies, Toyoda will undergo intense preparation from the company's legal and public relations teams. He will likely deliver a prepared statement and respond to questions with previously crafted answers.

On the other side of the room, members of Congress will engage in a fair amount of grandstanding about the safety of the American people (especially the children) in front of rolling cameras. I suppose that with public disapproval of Congress at historically high levels, lawmakers will skewer Toyota in order to convince voters that they are actually working on pressing issues.

5 comments:

RealityZone said...

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=aIOiixCVkhVU&pos=8

Thoughts?

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Hi, RZ. I am not surprised by this, and I never thought they would get disbarred or prosecuted. I don't think DOJ would ever do this, and I suspect that a lot of lawyers agree -- even if they won't say it. Here's why. Lawyers cannot advise their clients to commit crimes, nor can they use their role as an attorney to facilitate a crime. But zealous advocacy can push the outer limits of law. Law is usually never black and white. Although I believe that preexisting law answered the question of torture, unless it spoke on every specific fact pattern that Bush encountered, then there was room to "argue." The memos were awful, but they made a (barely) rational case that treaded the outer limits of law.

It is easier to appreciate this if a lawyer is arguing for a "just" outcome. A criminal defense lawyer could push the boundaries of a 4th Amendment argument, a civil rights lawyer could test a theory of racial discrimination, etc. I am all for lawyers being creative for good purposes. But if they get disbarred everytime they push "questionable" arguments, then this would chill creativity.

So, that's where I come from. Honestly, I don't know whether they should have been disbarred; instead, I was just expressing my relunctance to push for this outcome as a general matter. There are many other ways to deal with a situation like this, and most state bar associations would do so. People can face temporary suspension, be ordered to make restitution, be forced to undergo counseling, be forced to work under supervision of other attorneys, etc. Most often, a first "offense" would not result in disbarrment, unless it involved criminality by the lawyer. I just don't think bad advice is a crime.

RealityZone said...

Hi, DLH. Is it bad advice when it enables, and justifies a crime?
Is it advice, or is it following orders, to look as if it is advice.

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Sorry - my post referred to disbarrment or prosecution. Your link was about departmental punishment. This was a much easier solution. Not sure why they didn't just do that. Some of them no longer work in DOJ anyway.....

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

RZ: For a lawyer to advise a client to commit a crime is a serious ethical violation. But that is the problem with the question. Did the memo knowingly tell a client to commit a crime? Even in an area like this, there are some "unsettled" questions. Although I think the memo is heinous, I would probably vote against disbarrment -- not because I have any sympathy for the attorneys, but because I do not want to chill zealous advocacy for liberal lawyers. This is a moment where emotions can create awful precedent.

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