RE: A Law Degree of Separation
In addition to the fine points brought up by Justin, I would also add that Mr. Tarantino attacked Achorn for “inuendo” and seeking to “inflame, outrage and slander.” Tarantino wrote that, “Mr. Achorn rants against abuses in government, whether they be actual, perceived or imagined. I prefer to deal with real problems in a productive and reasoned way, rather than through a confrontational, take-no-prisoners style.” Tarantino particularly complained that Achorn “blasts away at the entire judicial system, implying that legal decisions could be made on a partisan or political basis, rather than on their merits.” Finally, Tarantino impugned Achorn, writing, “The questions he raises are awful” and that Achorn “is wrong, though, in stating that decent persons would raise them. Decent persons base their decisions on fact, not innuendo.” Throughout the piece, Tarantino placed himself, his methodology and the RI Court system on a lofty perch while he denigrated the writing and perspective of Mr. Achorn. It seemed that the core of Tarantino’s argument against Achorn was that Tarantino thought Achorn was too eager to both find corruption and write of his suspicions concerning it. It is apparently lost on Tarantino why any reasonable Rhode Island citizen would applaud Achorn’s efforts. According to the Rhode Island Code of Ethics
Appearance of Impropriety
Both the Rhode Island Constitution and the Code of Ethics state that public officials and employees should avoid the appearance of impropriety. However, an appearance of impropriety is not prohibited by law. Nonetheless a reasonable person might question whether an official may remain impartial on the issue. It is up to the individual public official/employee to determine whether he or she should participate or not.
Situations where there may be an appearance of impropriety, but actions that are not prohibited by the Code of Ethics might include:
* An employee who is in a position to influence others to obtain a position at her agency for her best friend from college.
* A public official exaggerated his accomplishments while running for election.
These are only examples. There are more. For instance, these questions were some of those originally asked by Achorn and enraged Tarantino (as posted by Don)
Is it healthy for legislators — some of whom work for law firms whose members appear before the courts — to exclusively set the budgetary parameters for judges’ compensation and working conditions? Can judges who strike budget deals with legislators render impartial decisions on constitutional matters that profoundly affect legislators?
There are plenty of reasons to raise questions, especially when we can’t be too sure that RI Citizens will even be made aware of important “open meetings.” I would venture to say, given the history of political corruption in the Ocean State, Tarantino’s indignation at Achorn’s “innuendo” rings hollow to many Rhode Island citizens. “If it walks like a duck, and talks like a duck. . .”
Finally, I can understand why Tarantino has taken umbrage to the tough questions Mr. Achorn has asked. However, I believe that he can stop his research on behalf of the Lottery Commission now, for it “appears” we already have an idea as to what his “honest opinion” regarding Separation of Powers and legislators on the Commission will be. But then again, I don’t want to engage in innuendo.