Posted: January 17, 2023
Code of Judicial Administration – Comment Period Closes March 3, 2023
CJA03-0403. Judicial branch education (AMEND). Proposed amendments require judicial officers and court employees to complete annual training on harassment and abusive conduct, ethics, inclusion, and elimination of bias. Other amendments are intended to streamline the rule and reflect current onboarding and orientation practices.
While sensible people agree that some sincere (as opposed to virtue-signaling, guilt-inducing, reality-distorting, or power grabbing), concise instruction on reasonable and appropriate workplace etiquette and conduct is worthwhile, in all sincerity it is just as worthwhile (perhaps even more so) to teach about proper interaction between superior and subordinate co-workers in the workplace (they are not equals on the job, and for good reason) and the value of emotional toughness and maturity in realizing one’s feelings are one’s own responsibility. It’s ludicrously easy to play the “I feel abused/harassed/excluded/discriminated against/otherwise wronged” card in the workplace with innocent, decent people. The incentives to play those cards for self-serving and illegitimate ends in the workplace with both co-workers and with the consumer must end.
Why should “judicial officers and court employees” be “required to complete annual training on harassment and abusive conduct, ethics, inclusion, and elimination of bias?” For what reason?
Are such people systematically harassing and abusing others? No, they are not.
And why do they need training on “ethics”? Are they inherently unethical people by virtue of their jobs? No, they are not.
And why would they need training on “inclusion,” whatever that means? Inclusion of what exactly? And for what reason? How does that word relate to carrying out their jobs in the court system?
And why would they need training on “eliminating bias”? Are these particular state employees inherently biased about something that we do not know about? How does the Utah State Bar or the Utah Supreme Court define or measure “bias” and who exactly is qualified to define or measure it?
The fact is that this proposed rule does not address any identifiable problem, other than what might be in the imagination of its proponents, nor does it achieve any benefit that is measurable or quantifiable.
More importantly, it is not the job of the Bar or the Utah Supreme Court to engage in political indoctrination of anyone, let alone public employees.
The Utah State Bar and Utah Supreme Court have promoted this Diversity and Inclusion gobbledygook for 25 years now. It is delivered in Code so most of us do not understand what is being done or why. The lack of clarity is intentional. We now have a Woman’s Bar Section, a [Racial] Minority Bar Section, a Gay or LGBTQXYZ Bar Section. When I have attended their functions, which I have done on occasion over the years, I do not feel “included” at all. I am perceived as an outsider and intruder. These groups serve to segregate and carve everyone up and put them into distinct and disparate categories or cubbyholes. The pursuit of this highly political segregation model is anything but “inclusive.”
As a member of the Bar for over 40 years, I object to this proposed rule and those like it. It treats grownups as little children and packages such a regressive agenda as “progress.” When I use the court system as a lawyer, I would like to think that I am relying on responsible, rational adults, not little children who have been politically brainwashed, via mandated “annual training,” into believing that individual feelings are more important than truth, facts, accuracy, efficiency, and competency.
On Jan. 13, the Bar sponsored a 1½ hour CLE Webinar on the upcoming legislative session. It was interesting to hear various legislators speak directly on bills coming before the legislature. Towards the end, however, an employee of the Utah State Bar issued a directive during the online streaming reminding everyone to “be civil” to one another. The fact is that no one was being the least uncivil. When no one is being uncivil, there is no reason to have a Speech and Thought Policewoman from the Utah State Bar chime in to demand that everyone be “civil” to one another. Such silliness is not just offensive to intelligent, rational adults but is itself juvenile and immature.
The foregoing is not to ignore that the proposed rule, and others like it, is also illegal because the Utah State Bar and the Utah Supreme Court have not been empowered by the legislature to engage in the political indoctrination of public employees. Nowhere is that permitted in Utah or federal law. Moreover, the proposed rule is also unconstitutional because nowhere in the Utah or federal constitutions can someone be forced to submit to regular “social justice warrior” political indoctrinations as a condition to getting—and keeping—a job with state government. What surprises me here is that no one on the Bar Rules Committee realizes the obvious illegality of what they are proposing. To be sure, if this proposed rule is approved and implemented, it will most assuredly give rise to a class action lawsuit by state employees under 42 USC § 1983, namely, for violating their civil and constitutional rights “under color of state law.” Such statute also provides for an award of costs and attorney’s fees to a successful plaintiff, not to mention damages. Is the Bar or are its employees or the people on the Rules Committee going to foot those 1983 fees and costs personally if they are imposed by a federal court? What about any damages? Who will pay for those?