Readers respond to "Hired Gun"
Articles like Nick Pinto's "Hired Gun" are the reason City Pages has readers. This was a terrific exposé of a seriously contaminated and useless "higher education" system.
When Ventura and Pawlenty have advocated large cuts in the U of M budget, those of us who support those cuts are thinking of characters like Bill Lewinski when we ask, "Why only cut $100 million?" If a character with a degree he dug out of a Cracker Jack box can be a professor and tenured, the school is obviously so mismanaged that it is wasting every resource taxpayers provide.
I would recommend shutting down MSU-Mankato's parody of a university and turning the grounds into something useful. A well-accommodated homeless shelter, perhaps?
The fact that police regularly use this character in their defense points out how corrupt they are. What would it take to put police under the rule of law? If they can waste public dollars on a defense that includes Lewinski's testimony, there is no limit to what they can dredge from taxpayers' pockets.
Thanks for your genuine courage in publishing this much-needed reality check. Our culture has so deified cops and the military that we too quickly forget some obvious truisms.
Such as? The fact that approximately 4 percent of people in this country can be classified as sociopaths, and sociopaths tend toward exactly such positions of power. Aren't we also responsible as citizens for being emotionally mature enough to hold our social institutions responsible for any brutal crimes, rather than insisting on (for our own emotional comfort) that illusionary world of unquestioned "good" by uniform?
I've spoken to family of local police who readily admit rampant racism among them; is it any wonder that the two cops shot by their own in the article were men of color? How many of us take responsibility for the fact that our armed forces several years ago decided to accept people belonging to white supremacist groups, or that we then set them loose in a war on Arabs?
Lewinski is just one more symptom of our rationalizations for a much larger problem. If we can't grow up enough to rethink our simplistic good/evil binaries, we just might lead the entire planet to destruction through our "goodness."
The American justice system is, by its very constitution, an adversarial forum for dispute resolution. Fundamental fairness in procedural due process dictates that every litigant deserves unfettered access to advocacy resources, including "expert" opinion.
And that's where I see Nick Pinto's article as interjecting some spurious interference. The Daubert standard (emanating from a federal court case), and its progeny at both the state and federal levels, specifies the acceptable boundaries of admissible "expert" testimony. There are, in fact, gatekeeper functions in the standards that decide whose testimony reaches the jury, under what circumstances, and why. The fact that some courts may not recognize certain "cutting edge" and "state-of-the-art" scientific endeavors as sufficiently valid and reliable to meet the threshold of the evidentiary standard required to satisfy the jury's needs for explanation or edification in any given case does not mean that the entire body of such inquiry is therefore "junk science," and hence, that it should be universally ignored.
Indeed, what is "junk science" is determined only by the scientific community itself, which is a (more or less) collegial process of peer review, wherein a consensus emerges as to the appropriate research methods, data collection standards, and statistical/analytical tools used for data analysis and interpretation. Remember how hot "cold fusion" was before it was "chilled out," but then reheated like death warmed over?
The above said, I know a thing or two about defense and plaintiff "whores." I routinely hired them both, depending on what side of the litigious fence that my client's interests laid on. Litigation service "whores" can certainly exhibit the traits of those we think of as practicing the world's oldest profession, but like many prostitutes in today's sex trade, they are now pressured, if not coerced and trafficked, into their "servitude." This development is largely the result of the consolidation and computerization of the defense and plaintiff services industries (and don't forget Al Gore's internets!), where concentrations of enormous economic power in the form of nationalized and internationalized insurance companies, risk pools, self-insured corporations, and law firms have shaped the "marketplace" for advocacy services.
The high-value damages cases that can afford to fund experts are largely controlled by the big-money players, because they have the "juice" to raise the stakes and make the little guy fold out. And these big bullies have no compunction about throwing their weight around. Moreover, they're notoriously possessive of their resources. Just ask anyone who works for them.
So now that you have a little more acumen with which to understand the nature of the beast, take a look at my more specific retorts to Nick Pinto's article on Bill Lewinski. After all, you can afford to have a conscience, right?
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