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VOL. 40 | NO. 37 | Friday, September 9, 2016

Random thoughts just begging to get out

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This column will be a listicle of sorts: Stuff that has somehow just been floating through my mind of late.

Personal competencies

Not just a buzz-phrase, this term of art. The University of Pennsylvania Law School’s website addresses it under a section captioned “Professionalism.” Personal competencies, it says, include

• The drive to achieve

• Self-awareness

• Self-confidence

• Self-investing

• Interpersonal savvy

• Relationship building skills

The term is also found in the goals of the Arkansas Department of Education: “Each student will develop and apply personal competencies that foster learning, community engagement, and success in life.”

Oblique strategies

Also not just a buzz-phrase. At rtqe.net, we learn that “The Oblique Strategies are a deck of cards” created by Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt in 1975, with revisions in 1978, 1979 and 1996. But it’s not a game.

On each card is printed an aphorism. Collectively, they are supposed to represent “basic working principles” that might help guide one in or through “moments of pressure,” as in the workplace. Examples include:

• First work alone, then work in unusual pairs.

• How would you explain this to your parents?

• Take away as much mystery as possible. What is left?

• Breathe more deeply.

Media circus?

The following items in the media of late have made me wonder if I am living in a cartoon, a soon-to-be-canceled sitcom or simply a B-movie:

• A major party’s 70-year-old presidential candidate fires one campaign manager and hires another simultaneously in mid-August before a November election.

• A 32-year-old Olympic gold-medalist claims to have been robbed in Rio at gunpoint by fake police. He recants and apologizes after the truth emerges from, like, every other person involved. And it all started with tipsy guys needing to urinate after drinking too much at a party.

• In Cincinnati, a 43-year-old woman is charged with stealing an ambulance and driving with a suspended license. Seems the ambulance driver leaves his vehicle running while he goes into the hospital briefly.

Meanwhile, the woman is discharged, wants to go home, has “missed the last bus,” and – lo and behold! – she finds a vehicle parked and running right near the bus stop.

You be the judge?

In Cook County, Illinois, a sitting circuit judge was accused of allowing a staff attorney to wear a robe, wield a gavel and hear a couple of traffic cases a few weeks ago. The county’s chief circuit judge quickly entered an order removing the accused judge from judicial duties and assigning her to a “peer mentoring program,” pending further investigation.

Ironically, the staff lawyer is an unopposed nominee in a judicial race on the November ballot.

In a Chicago Tribune article, Steve Mills and Todd Lighty wrote, “The judge and the lawyer allegedly involved … have operated in relative anonymity in Cook County’s bustling legal circles.” And that “lawyers were left slack-jawed by the alleged incident.”

Vic Fleming is a district court judge in Little Rock, Ark., where he also teaches at the William H. Bowen School of Law. Contact him at vicfleming@att.net.

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