Friday, February 29, 2008

Proud to be an American

Lately some very high profile individuals have either appeared to be ashamed of being an American or, at the very least, have not been proud of America for most of their lives. I don’t know about you, but despite all of America’s imperfections – including some terrible historical stains – I am very proud to be a citizen of this great country.

America is not perfect. But what country is? Close scrutiny of the history and current circumstances surrounding any nation will reveal horrible injustices. What makes America different – in a singularly unique way in human history –is that we hold ourselves to ideas and ideals that force ourselves to introspectively review ourselves, and then work to improve our imperfections.

Most nations have been forged in blood and are united by language, ethnic group, culture, tradition, and heritage. This is still true – look what happened to Yugoslavia. Its last remnants were torn asunder when Kosovo became the world’s newest nation.

America, however, is forged on our First Principles as enunciated in our Declaration of Independence: the rule of law, unalienable rights, equality, the social compact, and limited government.

Those First Principles resulted in emancipation, women’s suffrage, and the great civil rights movement. This is not a heritage to be ashamed of, but to be proud of. I know I am.

For more on why you should be proud to be an American, visit:

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Upcoming Book Signing

I am returning to the Little Professor Bookcenter this upcoming Saturday, March 1, from 11 am - 1pm, at 17075 Silver Parkway, Fenton, MI 48340 [(810) 629-3193].

This is another great independent bookstore. Stop by if you are in the area!

Michigan Council for Social Studies - A Voice for Our Liberties

Last Tuesday, I spoke at a break-out session at the annual conference of the Michigan Council for the Social Studies (MCSS) regarding my book, America’s Survival Guide, How to Stop America’s Impending Suicide by Reclaiming Our First Principles and History ( The MCSS provided complimentary copies of my book to conference attendees.

I appreciated speaking with some of the old vanguard in the fight to preserve social studies, including Roy Sovis, Amy Bloom, and J. Kelli Sweet - and meeting the new - like Kimberly Meade. My daughter Leah had a great time at the lunch and exhibit hall - and tolerated her father's comments at the break-out session.

MCSS has been on the frontlines of advocating for excellent social studies education for all of Michigan’s children. Under the able leadership of Executive Director J. Kelli Sweet, President Tom Costello, and many others, MCSS provides excellent advocacy and training for social studies educators They are simply indispensable, and epitomize the power and need of nonprofits to preserve our constitutional order.

To learn more about MCSS, check out

Monday, February 18, 2008

Kudos to the Nomad Bookhouse

To commemorate President’s Day, I gave a speech and signed my book, America’s Survival Guide (, at the Nomad Bookhouse in Jackson, Michigan. Tucked in downtown Jackson, Nomad is a charming and warm independent bookstore, chock full of interesting titles. It also has a great backroom for children’s books. Most important, the owner, Bridget Rothenberger, is a committed, engaging, and warm person who really enlivens the book signing experience. Kudos! Nomad is located at 229 S. Mechanical Street, Jackson, MI. Check it out at (517-990-0700 is the general phone).

Independent bookstores like Nomad are all the more important in the age of big box book retailers, which primarily focus on commercial books to churn, as opposed to quality books that inform and educate.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Ethical lawyers are critical to maintaining our freedoms

(Originally published in The Detroit News)

The indispensable role of attorneys in maintaining the integrity of our system of justice has been all over the news. Indeed, one can hardly read the newspaper on any given day without coming across cases and controversies calling into question the ethical behavior of some lawyers. I can't comment on any case, but America benefits when the public becomes more aware and interested in the legal system.

Former U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren reminded us long ago that "A dedicated bench and a militant bar are the natural leaders" to preserving our liberties. Warren explained that "Without an independent judiciary there can be no freedom. Without a militant bar to assert in court the constitutional rights of individuals regardless of how unpopular those assertions might be at the moment, such rights become merely 'sounding brass and tinkling cymbals.'"

Lawyers have a special trust and duty to maintain our freedoms. For this reason, lawyers in Michigan are required to attend an accredited law school and pass the bar examination. Lawyers are expected to be well versed in legal ethics to even begin the practice of law. Moreover, the Michigan Rules of Professional Conduct carefully sets the parameters of permissible legal practice. The vast majority of lawyers comply with these ethical guidelines. However, on occasion, a few lawyers lose focus and instead place attempts to prevail in litigation above their ethical duties. When this occurs, the integrity of the system of justice is severely undermined. Lawyers are officers of the court and their conduct reflects upon the sanctity of the entire system of justice, which supports our freedoms.

Accordingly, the rules of ethics prohibit a lawyer from making a false statement of material fact or law to a court. In fact, lawyers may have a duty to disclose something if silence could be construed as a misrepresentation. Lawyers are also prohibited from offering evidence they know to be false or suborning perjury. Lawyers must not unlawfully destroy evidence or conceal documents. Dishonesty, fraud, deceit, misrepresentation and conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice are all considered professional misconduct. Furthermore, lawyers are barred from encouraging or assisting others to violate the rules of professional misconduct and have an obligation to report misconduct of others. Lawyers who violate the rules of professional conduct are subject to strong sanctions by the Attorney Grievance Commission, as well as the inherent constitutional oversight authority of applicable courts. Lawyers may face charges of contempt of court or obstruction of justice if they improperly interfere with judicial proceedings. If a lawyer aids another in covering up a crime, they can be charged with the felony of accessory after the fact.

The courts are the people's instrument of justice. To make a mockery of the sacred role of the court is to undermine the core of our system of republican self-government. We have duty to ensure that potential ethical breaches are vigorously reviewed and, if proven, sanctioned.

For more, visit

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Happy Birthday President Lincoln

February 12 is President Abraham Lincoln’s birthday. There was a time when it was recognized as a national holiday. Currently we celebrate his birthday along with all of the other presidents on President’s Day. This state of affairs is most unfortunate.

Along with George Washington, Lincoln is deserving of his own holiday. He led the country through a controversial, bitter and bloody Civil War – and prevailed. He emancipated the slaves. He was a brilliant political leader who influences the basic underpinnings of the American experience today. For more on Lincoln and his importance, visit

Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address is the most important speech in American history. My tribute to Lincoln this year is to post it here and to suggest to you that you honor him and America by sharing his words with others on his birthday:

Four score and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth on this continent a
new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men
are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing
whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long
endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate
a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their
lives that the nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we
should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate – we
can not consecrate – we can not hallow – this ground. The brave men, living and
dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add
or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but
it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be
dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus so
far nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task
remaining before us – that from those honored dead we take increased devotion to
that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion – that we here
highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain – that this nation,
under God, shall have a new birth of freedom – and that government of the
people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

The Courts Must Not Tolerate Any Contempt for the Truth

(Originally published in the Detroit Free Press, 2/5/08)

The importance of telling the truth while under oath in court has been recently splashed across the front page. Putting aside any commentary on any particular case, this heightened public awareness is needed and welcome.
That perjury is commonplace is the dirty little secret of modern litigation. Seasoned lawyers and judges more than suspect that many litigants file false affidavits, provide baseless testimony in sworn depositions, and lie under oath at trial. Although people may hear and see events differently, often trial testimony is so diametrically opposed that there is no rational explanation other than at least one witness is simply lying.
Indeed, at times, the extrinsic evidence that a witness is committing perjury becomes overwhelming.
The failure to rapidly pursue blatant perjury leads to the deterioration of the rule of law and the administration of justice, and it undermines our form of self-government. To assume that perjury is a fact of life that cannot or should not be vindicated in the courts of law only exacerbates the situation and leads to the disillusionment of those who do not engage in such conduct.
If litigants understand that they can blatantly lie under oath -- even when extrinsic evidence clearly proves the falsity of the statements -- we only degrade the rule of law, a First Principle of our republic.
Lies under oath lead to violating court orders; broken court orders lead to more serious crimes. Contemnors are simply emboldened to lie with impunity and to violate court orders without consequence.
Moreover, the courts are the people's instrument of justice. To make a mockery of the sacred role of the court is to undermine the very core of our system of self-government.
If the truth does not matter in our courts of law, how can it matter elsewhere? If we will not enforce the law in our own courts, how can we expect that it will be adhered to outside of them? If the oath means nothing, it should not be given.
On the other hand, if the rule of law is to prevail, the oath should be vigorously enforced, and those who breach the same should be held accountable for their misconduct. Indeed, Michigan and federal jurisprudence has long held that it is the duty of a conscientious court to punish criminal contempt, regardless of how forgiving or reluctant the judge might otherwise be to pursue the matter.
Perhaps uniquely in the state, my court has held several criminal contempt proceedings based on false testimony that occurred in a prior proceeding. Although rare, they have been important in protecting the integrity of the administration of justice.
For example, one conviction for criminal contempt arose out of the perjury and production of false documents that occurred during a double armed robbery trial.
In another proceeding, a counselor falsely testified about the security of a facility in which a bond violator was subsequently placed; contrary to the false testimony that misled both the people and the court, the bonder was able to leave on his own accord, thereby endangering the community.
Others found in contempt include a woman who took the wrong child to a paternity test, witnesses who admitted lying under oath in depositions, and a party who forged a signature on an employment agreement.
Apparently word has spread. I have been told by a number of prominent litigators and judges that they are aware of the criminal contempt proceedings that have occurred in my court, and that they support the revivification of the oath. In addition, at my urging and with the unanimous support of the Michigan Supreme Court, the Legislature recently enhanced the penalties for criminal contempt. These efforts appear to be working; I have had a dearth of contempt matters in my court for several months.
With some luck, these efforts will spread, and the importance of the oath will be affirmed and strengthened to better protect the core of our system of justice.

For more on the importance of the First Principle of the rule of law and the role of the courts in preserving of liberty, see

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Super Bowl Sunday v Super Tuesday

I, along with most of the rest of the nation, will be watching the Super Bowl today. (And like many, I will be enjoying the hospitality of a friend’s house – thanks Mr. Krebs!) Perhaps the Patriots will make history or perhaps the Giants will win the biggest upset since the Pistons dismantled the Lakers in the NBA Finals a few years ago.

Regardless of the outcome, we can rest assured that millions of people not only will be tune in, they have been debating the probable outcome for the last couple of weeks. For days – if not weeks – after the game, millions will continue to discuss the game, and the commercials.

Compare this activity to the general level engagement of the polity in connection with Super Tuesday. Two days after the Super Bowl, nearly half the states will participate in the presidential selection process (via caucus or primary) for the major party candidates. Despite the fact that the nation is at a critical crossroads (Iraq, Afghanistan, looming recession, housing crisis, social security, deficits, etc.), the general public has paid far less time and energy on Super Tuesday than the Super Bowl. Presidential elections themselves receive less participation.

How we expect to survive as a free nation when we spend more time and energy on sports than on selecting our most important political leader is beyond me. We need to make the political process more important, and view the Super Bowl for what it is – a great game for a great sport – and nothing more.

If you still have the opportunity to vote in the primary process or are interested in how to make elections as important as sports, check out my website (including its review of the candidates) at