Editorials: Lawyers losing licenses; and Whom do they expect to fool?

Suspension notice by the California Bar Association.

Eastman’s California law license suspended

John Eastman, former attorney for Donald Trump and key promoter of the stolen 2020 US presidential election fraud, is facing criminal charges in Georgia and on that basis has been suspended from the practice of law in California. The man has yet to be convicted of anything but he’s notorious and he’s charged with felony election interference. Eastman is a living example of how MAGA has come to mean “Making Attorneys Get Attorneys.”

How to look at this case? In part there is this philosophical conflict between most Republicans and most Democrats. For the former the idea is that only individuals from select social strata have rights and society is an abstraction with no standing in the eyes of the law and no rights under the Constitution or laws. For the latter the concept of individuals having rights is more inclusive and expansive, and the notion that consumer protection laws designed to protect society against harmful products and services are valid.

As in the California Bar having decided that while this case is pending the people of California need to be protected from the apparent high risk of unethical legal practice by way of Eastman’s suspension; and that if he is convicted on the Georgia charges he stands to be permanently disbarred.

It’s neither perfect nor definitive justice at this point, but the state’s organized legal profession has stepped in to protect Californians and their courts.

We can and should look on from Panama and wish for something like this here.

In Panama we had Noriega’s hit man against press freedom who not only didn’t lose his law license after the invasion, but went on as a private lawyer to bring frivolous cases against journalists and in public posts to build a reputation for abuse as he rose through the ranks, until he ascended to be presiding magistrate of the Supreme Court. That was before he was impeached, convicted and sent to prison for inexplicable enrichment that turned out to be the skimming of kickbacks from overpriced court construction and renovation contracts. Then, the week after he got out of prison, Mr. Mondada Luna went back to the practice of law!

Noriega’s presiding magistrate of the Electoral Tribunal? At the peak of her authority she tried to annul the 1989 elections so as to keep the strongman in power, helping to set the stage for that year’s terrible violence. Come 1990 she was tossed from her public post, but she went on to practice law after the invasion and even to become dean of a law school.

Now we have witnessed the obscene lawyer moves on behalf of the fugitive sticky fingers Ricardo Martinelli Berrocal, with delay after delay, with judge shopping, abusive disrespect and threats all along the way. A lot of Martinelli’s inner circle, themselves attYeaorneys, are in grave legal trouble of their own.

Yet, in twists of principles that when taken straight-up and with no mangling do have some validity, we are pointed to the conclusion that attorney discipline is in itself a human rights violation. So as a practical matter, there is no disbarment in Panama.

Society has rights that are mocked in Panama’s legal system just about every day, and that mockery will continue so long as the privileges of individual lawyers and the richest of their clients are worshipped as rights while any concept of society’s rights is discarded.

The RM campaign’s online presentation of itself on one of its Twitter / X feeds.

Yeah, right…

Is someone supposed to be fooled?

As in 2014 and 2019, Ricardo Martinelli is running a proxy campaign for president, angling to install some servile puppet to do his bidding and shield him from the consequences of his actions.

It’s still a mistake to just dismiss José Raúl Mulino, this year’s stand-in, as just a Martinelli surrogate. Post-invasion, the man gone through four different political parties. Just as US relations with the Arnulfista president who came in with the 1989 invasion soured, Mulino was serving as Guillermo Endara’s foreign minister.

In the Martinelli administration, Mulino was part of the brain trust behind the April 2010 Chorizo Law. Under the pretextual purpose of promoting Panamanian commercial aviation, that law embraced such diverse aims as the financial destruction of labor unions, the abolition of environmental impact studies and prohibitive fees for filing appeals against government contract bid rigging.

It prompted wave of protests and a furious strike by banana workers, which in turn elicited a wave of brutality against working class neighborhoods in Changuinola, wherein police were given orders to randomly shoot people in the eyes with birdshot. Then when many blinded shooting victims went to Panama City for the only available medical treatment, Ricky Martinelli sent in a woman with no apparent authority to do such a thing to order the patients’ families out of the hospital and a squadron of police to arrest them.

A subsequent “sausage bill” later that year purported to legalize every act of police brutality while on duty and to prohibit street protests. So Don Ricky’s police then treated the nation to a televised extrajudicial torture execution in which boys at the juvenile detention center in Tocumen were burned to death with police taunting them as they screamed. In a later show of power, when Colon protested Don Ricky’s plan to sell the land in the Colon Free Zone, first water was cut off to a working class neighborhood, then SENAFRONT cops were sent in to shoot or beat whoever they could, resulting in the death of a 10-year-old boy who had done nothing wrong. Then there was the attempt to sell Cerro Colorado, a mountain held sacred by many of the Ngabe people and the source of seven rivers upon which much of the Ngabe-Bugle Comarca depended for drinking, irrigation and fishing water. The suppression of the ensuing protests also costs lives, and included a police attack on the hospital in Tole.

All during this administration Mulino was one of the in-crowd of lawyers, first as Minister of Government and Justice and then as Minister of Public Safety (in charge of the police).

Set aside guilt by association. Set aside the ugliness of the Martinelista argument that “he stole but he got things done.” Between now and May 5 it’s time to discuss and to call into account Mulino’s own actions and the performance of institutions under his ministerial authority while he was in government.

Missing records? A plea that he was not convicted by our disabled courts of a crime? However, this is an election, not a criminal trial, and neither Mulino nor his boss merit a free pass from the voters.

socialist lady
Helen Keller, circa 1920. Wikimedia photo from the Los Angeles Times archive at UCLA, restored / retouched by Rhododendrites.


          The world is full of suffering but it is also full of people overcoming it.

Helen Keller          

Bear in mind…


If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am not for others, what am I? And if not now, when?

Rabbi Hillel

The honorable man has no homeland other than that in which the rights of citizens are protected and the sacredness of humanity is respected.

Simón Bolívar

If we cannot tell the truth to one another literature is finished.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie


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