Thursday, April 28, 2011

Indianapolis Bar Association Responds To Shabazz' Attack On Judge Rosenberg

Fortunately, somebody is finally taking to task the irresponsible pronouncements of controversial radio talk show host Abdul-Hakim Shabazz. Responding to Shabazz' unsubstantiated allegation that Judge Louis Rosenberg had engaged in impermissible ex parte communications with Democratic Party officials concerning the ongoing Charlie White election controversy, the Indianapolis Bar Association released the following statement:

Indianapolis, IN, April 28, 2011: On behalf of over 5,000 lawyers, judges, and legal professionals, the Indianapolis Bar Association on occasion finds it appropriate to speak when the integrity of the legal system or those who administer, support and defend it are unfairly called into question. The April 27, 2011 blog post by Abdul Hakim-Shabazz titled “Treacy v. Parker?”, has made unsubstantiated allegations that call into question the actions of a sitting judge and the integrity of the legal system as a whole. The Marion County Circuit Court judge in the matter involving the case of Indiana Secretary of State Charlie White is bound by the rules of judicial conduct in that and any other case. While we understand the importance of a free debate in political matters and policy issues of public concern, including those that may take place on the Indiana Barrister blog, parts of this April 27 blog post suggest without evidence that the judge has violated his duties. The legal system, its participants and the public benefit from commentary on politics that is free from baseless allegations of this nature. We also note that since Abdul Hakim-Shabazz is an attorney who has chosen a name for his blog that references the legal profession, it would have been our hope that his respect for the legal system would have outweighed any interest in publishing sensationalized, unfounded and unattributed allegations about the judge. The IndyBar reiterates its support for a vigorous public discourse about the legal system and judiciary, but encourages those who comment publicly to do so responsibly.

Shabazz' posted his unsubstantiated allegations against Judge Rosenberg not only on his Indiana Barrister blog but also the Capitol Watch blog of WRTV News where he serves as a political commentator. I still see no reporting there in response to the serious allegations he alleged in his blog posting against Judge Rosenberg. For his part, Shabazz posted the following characteristically flippant response to the IBA's letter:

 I received a copy of the following statement in my e-mail tonight from the Indianapolis Bar Association. The organization took issue with my recent blog post Treacy v. Parker? As a big believer in free speech, I have no problem with the Bar Association criticizing yours truly.

I stand by my blog post. This blog has always been about open debate and respecting honest dissenting opinions and that’s not going to change anytime soon. Like the title says, I’m a big boy and I can take the criticism. It comes with the territory. I’ve always said if you can’t take the heat, find another cook.
I think it's time for Shabazz to put up or shut up. I'm a big believer in the fundamental constitutional right to free speech as he is as a daily blogger, but I think one should tread very lightly when it comes to impugning the professional integrity of one of our judicial officers, particularly when one is an officer of the court. I often have disagreements with the decisions judges make, but I try to restrain my feelings and avoid character assassination, which is essentially what his allegations against Judge Rosenberg amounted to. I don't think he should have made the allegations he made against him unless he was willing, as an officer of the court, to back them up with a complaint to the Commission on Judicial Qualifications.


Wilson46201 said...

In Indiana, Abdul-Hakim Shabazz is not an officer of the court. He is not licensed in Indiana therefore he has absolutely no professional responsibilities. He can be as much of a jackass as any ordinary citizen precisely because he is NOT an "Indiana Barrister".

Advance Indiana said...

I believe Indiana's disciplinary commission could investigate and make a referral to the Illinois Attorney & Disciplinary Commission that would be taken seriously there.

Paul K. Ogden said...


I think Gary's exactly right. I think the Commission also might have jurisidiction to go after him as he does hold himself out to be "of counsel" to an Indianapolis law firm.

Cato said...

What Gary and Paul propose is nothing short of bullying within a guild and an outright declaration of war on the First Amendment. It's big government at its ultimate. "If our government can't get him, we'll find a government that can." That attitude is really quite terrifying. It's chilling confirmation that government is nothing but men with guns who can bend you to their will.

If Abdul has taken any oath, it's solely to the Illinois bench, a bench which he does not seem to have recently impugned and a state in which he does not reside. It's difficult to see how Illinois could credibly care about what Abdul says in foreign jurisdictions.

Aren't Republicans all for states' rights and the autonomy of states to act within their own borders, but no further? Do not Republicans bristle when Mayors Daley and Bloomberg propose gun regulations for the rest of the country? If Abdul were a California attorney and spoke sharply of a judge's comment concerning the obligation of all citizens to recycle, worship the earth, and hate guns would we not expect Indiana to laugh at any complaint California would send our way?

It's an elementary rule of argumentation that an argument is always independent of its author. Instead of crafting violent plans to silence free speech, ignore the author and discuss the argument.

Even if Abdul were Indiana licensed, his comment should be able to be said without sanction. Freedom demands it. That Abdul is not licensed in Indiana makes his speech entirely beyond the rebuke of Indiana's government.

We have arrived at a truly sad place when only those who can criticize the third branch are those who do not practice before it. If I call my congressman a shill for big oil, how terrifying it would be if Congress sanctioned me and barred me from ever again sending any Congressman a letter seeking redress of a grievance.

I commented further on this subject on Paul's blog.

Cato said...

I make note that Wilson, an avowed Democrat, is standing up for free speech, though the target of Abdul's comment was a Democrat, while the resident Republicans are being vindictive and seeking to silence free speech.

This is why I keep my ACLU dues paid up and have lately changed my voting habits with regard to the D's.

Advance Indiana said...

Not hardly, Cato. Paul's point and mine is that he is making a very serious allegation against a judge. He is an officer of the court as a licensed attorney. If he has credible evidence, he should bring it to the attention of the persons responsible for policing judges. If you've read his blog with any regularity, you know he has repeatedly made wild claims about exchanges that have supposedly taken place between people. To believe him, you have to believe that someone in the room who heard those conversations shared them with him. Given his relationship with the parties' typically that are the subject of those exchanges, it is doubtful that anyone would have shared that information with him. In most cases, he would be the last person with whom they would share that information. I think most people knowledgeable with the parties involved on the Democratic Party side of the Charlie White dispute would agree that Abdul is the last person with whom they are going to share information.