Upcoming Wage and Hour Projects at BruceGodfrey.com

It’s been quiet around here for a while, had a living to make (and still do), but this blogger cannot get rid of the dog in him

I decided that I would create what I would like to have available elsewhere on the Maryland law internet: summaries of major Maryland and District of Columbia wage laws, and listings of major cases decided under those laws.

Additionally, I will be preparing a global minimum wage chart for regional litigation, including historical minimum wages.

Stand by for developments.

Robin Ficker disbarred

Washington Post, March 4, 2022:

“The Maryland Court of Appeals said in its ruling Thursday that Ficker has been the subject of a long history of complaints of professional misconduct that expand over three generations of the bar counsel.

Ficker, in a three-way race for the Republican nomination, said in an email Saturday the ruling was “a political decision by recent political appointees. … My clients love me. It is judges and lawyers complaining.”

The Court of Appeals decision was noteworthy for citing four prior appearances by Mr. Ficker in the Court of Appeals for disciplinary matters in 1990, 1998, 2007 and 2017 as well as two private (?) reprimands by the Attorney Grievance Commission that did not rise to direct Court review.

Mr. Ficker is probably known by non-attorneys more for his antics as a basketball heckler until Washington banned him from their home games, and for referenda in Montgomery County on anti-tax matters. To us attorneys, he was known as a high-volume, see-him-everywhere criminal defense attorney who was among the first to take mail marketing on, including litigating for attorneys’ free speech rights in that context.

While I was not always a fan of Mr. Ficker’s style, there can be no doubt that he has made a serious impact on the Bar and on public policy in Maryland, and that he is definitely his own man and not a knock-off of someone else. I wish him well, this unfortunate news notwithstanding.

MD Lt. Gov. Rutherford Under Fire for Remarks about Hate Speech

Baltimore Sun, December 2, 2016:

Amid an uptick in hate speech following the divisive presidential election, Republican Lt. Gov. Boyd K. Rutherford said this week that he’d rather people “show their real colors than hide.”

Rutherford was tweeting in response to state Sen. Cheryl Kagan, a Montgomery County Democrat, who had tweeted that she was “shocked” by Rutherford’s lack of awareness about the root of recent anti-Semitic vandalism.

“You act as though hate is new,” Rutherford tweeted at the state senator. “It was always there. I’d rather people show their real colors than hide.”

The article goes on to discuss how Sen. Kagan characterized the Jewish community in and near her Montgomery County district as “mystified” by Lt. Gov. Rutherford’s remarks.

The divergence in perspective between the Lieutenant Governor, who is African-American, and Senator Cheryl Kagan, long a community pillar in greater Washington’s Jewish community both in office and out of office over the decades, should surprise no one.

It is quite common (though not universal) for African-Americans to prefer sunlight and openness regarding racism and for American Jews (and perhaps Jewish citizens of other nations) to find the same sunlight and openness more alarming.  More social commentators have noted this.  I will defer to others more learned than I as to the possible sociological and historical sources of this frequent divergence in response/coping strategy.

As for me, neither Jewish nor African-American and lacking actual chips on the table in dealing with either problem, I would hesitate to comment, other than to hope that our society improves such that racism and anti-Semitism are in the history books and not in the newspapers.  Doubt I will live that long.

Towards a more decent 2017

Politics are not a staple of Working Scribe and any number of other sites can slake the reader’s thirst for yet one more red Solo cup of politics from 2016’s skunked keg. Some things are more important in valence and precedence than politics – many things, in fact, but to talk about these things, we have to talk (a little, sorry) about “that thing.”

I don’t know whether the world I thought I once knew disappeared, or was never there, or was the mere reflection of a happy childhood, replete with Big Bird and 2nd grade teachers and Goofus and Gallant in every monthly issue of Highlights magazine. Our culture seems so brutal, so indecent, with no monopoly anywhere on indecency.

Could one have imagined a presidential candidate dismissing a majority of his opponent’s supporters – roughly a quarter of the republic’s electorate – as a “basket of deplorables” in 1996, or 1984 or 1960? Can one imagine living through the demeaning behavior and language that characterized a major candidate’s campaign persona? The mere language necessary to discuss the current events of politics, the lexicon, is not suitable for a 4th grade civics class. Politics isn’t just nasty, it’s too nasty even to discuss in social studies. This wasn’t true when I was in the 6th grade in 1980, when we held class mock elections in my Catholic elementary school. (The Republican won, and I backed the third-placed candidate – familiar pattern.)

Most people aren’t saints, but most are decent most of the time. Yet we have this indecency in our politics. It seems as if politicians had forgotten how to appeal optimistically and positively to the common (okay, not universal, but common) decency of most people.

After the election, I saw posts from advocates for a losing presidential candidate urge their comrades not to go for Thanksgiving to the parts of the country where the winner’s supporters predominated, urging instead that they host dinner and teach their benighted relatives “how people should be treated.” This is, in fact, not how people should be treated.

We hear “decency” used in reference to sexuality, especially out of the mouths of preachers and politicians seeking money; public indecency, for instance, does not refer to cruel words uttered on a sidewalk but to an unauthorized exposure of human skin. There is a place for decency standards in sexual matters but we have become indecent in so many issues greater than nudity or sexuality. Most of life is about other matters; even pornographic actors spend most of their lives NOT having sex. Christian friends of mine have noted that their Bible talks a lot more about money, especially helping the poor, than about sex. They and many others of similar sensible priorities have a point.

It is far easier to be indecent to strangers and outsiders, what some sociologists and social activists call, awkwardly, “the other.” I fear that we have become a society where there is no “society”, rather a basket not of “deplorables” but of isolated and mutually indifferent (or worse) gel capsules. In 1980, MTV did not exist except as a ambitious idea and cable was barely in existence; national television including respected television news had three major networks and pretty much that was it. I recall saying the word “indivisible” in the Pledge thousands of times; yet that word tells a lie. We are extremely divisible and have been micro-divided, as it turns out.

May 2017 give us a greater sense of being in “one nation”, ideally without the unifying force of a horrible tragedy. As for me and mine, we will eat dinner tonight in peace and health in the Red State part of Maryland, and play cards. and be decent and loving to one another, remembering a more unified and decent time, our different politics notwithstanding. May you enjoy a very decent and Happy Thanksgiving with you and yours, and may the end of this year soon start a more decent one for us all.