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Scott Moss on the Imus Defamation Suit & Client Control

Professor Scott Moss of the University of Colorado has a great comment on the Imus defamation suit

This is a classic case of a plaintiff who’s justifiably enraged about something that’s not illegal (racist insults) and therefore filed a lawsuit dubiously asserting something that is illegal (false factual statements about sexual practices).

When I was a full-time plaintiff’s lawyer, I often had to talk clients off the ledge when they were upset at serious mistreatment but simply didn’t have any real legal claim to file in court, telling them, “Look, I know you’re upset about X, but you can’t sue for X; you can sue only for Y, and you can’t prove Y.” (I’m paraphrasing for brevity; I usually tried to express a little more empathy in such situations). (source)

I couldn’t agree with him more. Unfortunately, this kind of thinking is not prevalent enough in the practice of law, and such wisdom was never imparted to me in my so-called “prestigious” legal education. The legal academy is, unfortunately, dominated by legal “minds” who never practiced law or who practiced for the bare minimum of time before jumping into teaching. (Prior post on this subject here – see number 3 in particular). Professor Moss actually practiced law for six years (source) before becoming an academic. It shows in the wisdom of his statement. Professor Moss’ students are fortunate to have a professor who is both a scholar and can impart some real-world wisdom and ethics unto them.

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