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  • September 1, 2004 Letters

    first_img Lawyer Advertising September 1, 2004 Regular News In an August 1 story you stated that the lawyers’ ad “1-800-PIT-BULL” is an example of what many see as ads that “provoke public hostility toward the profession and legal system.” This is like saying that displaying red lights in the prostitution district is destroying the reputation of the neighborhood.The problem with the legal profession is not a problem of public perception, but rather the deterioration of the profession’s own standards and the unwillingness of the Bar to govern itself in a manner that would instill public trust. Relaxation of rules on referral fees and excessive fee awards in contingent fee litigation are examples of the cause of the problem.We must ask ourselves whether we want to clean up our neighborhood or simply dim the red lights and hope for a better public perception.James D. Francis JacksonvilleGay Adoptions September 1, 2004 Letterscenter_img I am writing to point out a simple, though to some readers a significant, misstatement in the August 1 article “ABA Model Rules, gay adoptions on board’s agenda.” The article states that, under current Florida law, “gay couples can be foster parents but are prohibited by state law from adopting[.]” While the statement is technically true, F.S.. §63.042(3) prevents any homosexual ( i.e. individuals) from adopting as well. A simple oversight on the News’ part, I am certain, but one which unwittingly glosses over the situation of many Floridians.Matthew P. Tabakman OrlandoI read with disbelief that the Family Law Section voted to support homosexual adoptions. Why am I forced to support this action? If The Florida Bar cares to go into highly controversial social issues like the ABA, then I suggest membership should be like the ABA—elective, not mandatory.John P. Joseph St. Petersburg (Editor’s note: Bar sections use their voluntary annual dues to advocate legislative positions and no mandatory Bar fees would be expended if the section’s request for permission to lobby the issue is approved.) Treatment of Prisoners The American Bar Association stood up recently for our soldiers posted around the world now and in the future.We urged our government to treat our prisoners the way we want other governments to treat our people who fall captive to them, reminding our leaders that what we visit upon our prisoners can be visited upon us.Al Qaeda and other terrorists pose a real threat to the United States. That threat creates tension between our need to interrogate prisoners for potentially life-saving information, and our legal standards that ban torture and cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment.But we are a nation pledged to the law, because it is the law that shields us — from ourselves, from each other, from would-be tyrants, or from fiery mobs. We demand that other countries adhere to internationally accepted standards, expressed in the laws we have joined with them to adopt. And when they don’t, we cry foul and take them to task.Now Americans are faced with an unfolding drama of tragic dimension.Photographs, videotape, and witnesses lend credence to allegations of torture and cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment of prisoners held in Abu Ghraib and elsewhere. Official documents appear to have fostered a climate in which pressure to obtain information overcame the restraint of the law.The ABA stood up for the law when it condemned those who committed abuses and government lawyers and officials who authorized torture. We urged prosecution of those responsible, compliance with our treaty obligations, refusal to turn prisoners we hold over to governments that torture, clarifying our law to assure that torture is not an interrogation tool. And we called for an independent, bipartisan investigation into exactly what happened and why, so that we can be assured that it will not happen again.These are not partisan issues. The sons and daughters of America now stationed around the world and all of us who pray for their safe return are both Republican and Democrat.And those who would defeat terror but who cherish our national heritage are all Americans.As parents, family, and friends of the men and women in uniform fighting to preserve our freedom, we owe it to them not to add to their risk by cheapening the world’s response to torture by failing to respond ourselves.Neal Sonnett Miami, chair, ABA Task Force On Treatment of Enemy Combatants (Editor’s note: The ABA has appointed Sonnett to be its observer in Guantanamo Bay for the hearings to be held before military tribunals for detainees held in the war on terrorism.)last_img read more