Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Sick Lawyers  If the charges contained in the complaint of the Illinois Bar complaint are true, Deron Baker Elliott is a very sick lawyer.  According to the Bar complaint this lawyer has on several occasions engaged in racist verbal attacks on others in the community.  It is reported that attorney Elliott assaulted a police officer as part of a wild incident in which he verbally berated African-Americans and Jewish citizens.  In another incident Elliott referred to an Asian police official as "Detective Chairman."

It's not too difficult to appreciate the underpinnings of racism, recognizing that it underlies so much of what we all do and say, not excluding myself.  I recognize that as we try to explain the world to ourselves we include or exclude ourselves based on differences that we perceive.  If I'm uncomfortable I focus on the differences of others around me;  if I'm comfortable, I search our our similarities--is this it?  Aggressive and assaultive racism, in other words that behavior that excludes others through attitudes, words or violence--that, my Mother taught me was sin.  Wrong.  And my life experiences teaches me that racism is not only wrong but profoundly stupid.  What does racism contribute to my peace of mind or yours?

So when I read about Deron Baker Eliott, I conclude that he is not just racist, he is sick.  He is a very sick lawyer.  What's surprising to me is that Elliott made it through the process of being admitted to law school, admitted to take the bar exam, and admitted to practice with the attitudes that he holds.  That is why I've concluded that this lawyer is sick, clearly I'm just speculating but it certainly sounds to me like someone with an organic mental illness, like schizophrenia.

In my career, I worked for one profoundly (alcoholic and) racist lawyer.  During law school I clerked (filing legal papers, drafting legal documents, and writing briefs) with a small group of personal injury lawyers.  The most successful of these lawyers, Ronnie P had reached such prominence that he ran for Congress as the republican candidate, losing  in a heavily democratic district.  By repute, Ronnie P  was a brilliant businessman--I have my doubts.

Ronnie P's personal injury practice was based on advertising directly to African-Americans via Urban-format radio well before the era of widespread lawyer advertising. I did not know until late in my stay at this office, but Ronnie issued orders to his secretaries to clear the waiting room of black clients when business clients were due to visit and pass through the lobby.  Ronnie P. believed that Blacks people were "animals" interested in one thing, money that they could bleed from the system.

Ronnie P's racism became manifest as his drinking problem became more and more evident over time.  Shortly before I left this office as part of a revolt against Ronnie by all the other lawyers in the suite--Ronnie stumbled drunkenly into an office after lunch. I was interviewing two mature black ladies-clients who had had previous dealings with him.  One of the black ladies trying to be social with him asked Ronnie, Ronnie's opinion of mixed raced dating. This disgusting, mentally ill drunk uttered something so crude and vile, that today I count it as the most racist thing I ever heard one person say to another.

Within ten years, Ronnie P died a raving wet-brained maniac.

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