Tuesday, June 13, 2006

I don't know if you caught the article at the firm's web site, but we made a radical change in policy yesterday afternoon at an emergency meeting of the partners, and I'm pretty upset about it. The Supreme Court came out with a ruling yesterday that inmates on death row will be allowed to challenge the constitutionality of lethal injections. While they didn't rule the injections unconstitutional, merely opening that door prompted some of the partners here to revisit our own policy about lethal injections. We've been using them as a pretty painless (for us) way to get rid of associates, for the past two decades or so. Every year we'll take a handful of associates who rank particularly low after the annual evaluations, and we'll place them on a list and after some quick procedural hearings, we'll terminate their employment with a mix of sodium pentothal, pancuronium bromide, and potassium chloride. It's been a fairly straightforward procedure since the mid-1980s, but now that the Supreme Court is opening the door to a legal challenge, some of the partners felt we ought to re-evaluate and at least let the associates on our own "career death row" (the dumpster side on the 20th floor, in terms of office location) have a chance to appeal before we kill them.

I dissented, obviously. The Court hasn't said lethal injection isn't constitutional. All they've done is open the door to appeals. I'm happy to defer to them once they make a real ruling, but something procedural like this shouldn't change our policy, and the politically correct majority at the firm are afraid to be bold and stick to our guns on this. It's pathetic. We have a policy and there's no reason to change it. They're afraid of bad press. They're afraid that law students won't apply to the Firm if they find out about the lethal injections. Big deal. Any student who's afraid he'll rank low enough in the performance rankings to be subject to lethal injection isn't a student we want working here. I want confident students. Smart students. Students who aren't worried about qualifying for a lethal injection. I'll live without the people scared by the policy. But, no, I lost the battle, and now we're adding all sorts of layers of bureaucracy to our easy and simple policy. It's a waste.

I'll shut up about it, and won't make a big deal, but if they try to get rid of the behavior modification chamber in the basement, then I'm really going to throw a fit.

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