Letters to the Editor

Letter to the Editor: Cox

Dear Editor,

I read the article “Breaking the Chains of Stigma: Safeguarding Substance-Using Parents and their Children in Civil Legal Matters” with more than a little dismay and trepidation.

The article repeatedly refers to “substances,” leaving it unclear as to whether marijuana/THC usage is the primary “substance” discussed or even one of them. This is an important distinction at the outset.  I believe our judges do an excellent job of examining the problems before them and distinguishing between so-called “hard drug” addiction and recreational marijuana use. 

More concerning is the article’s focus on the victimhood of addicts, a focus which is mis-directed.  The article is about child cases, and a child’s needs and safety are paramount.   The author claims that drug use is “often misinterpreted and stigmatized by society at large.”  No evidence, even anecdotal, is provided to suggest our judges are neglecting their duty to rule in the best interest of the children before them, by stigmatizing addicts.  The emphasis in the criminal justice system on the use of specialty courts, rehabilitation, and recovery also undercuts the premise that drug addicts are being punished/stigmatized in society and/or in child welfare/custody cases. 

The article implies that children might not need protection from a custodial parent using hard drugs such as methamphetamine, heroin, or cocaine.  It resurrects the lie uttered by many addicts that they are just social or occasional users.   In my estimation it is nonsensical and even more harmful to describe protecting children from the scourge of addiction as “unwarranted scrutiny and judgment.”  This article comes at a time when tens of thousands of people are dying of overdoses, largely due to the Fentanyl epidemic.   Our judges and lawyers are well aware of these problems, as they witness the consequences of addiction.  Most of the time, our legal professionals are compassionate towards parents and loving/protective towards children.


Neil Presley Cox

Clarkston, Washington

Letter to the Editor: Dominick

Dear Ms. Welfley,

I read with interest Judge Robert L. Jackson’s article on “Civility in the Profession: Is it Gone Forever” contained in the November/December 2023 edition of The Advocate. In his article, he discussed the adoption by the Idaho Bench and Bar of the “Standards of Civility in Professional Conduct.” He appeared to have some questions about the adoption of the civility rules. Other members of the Bench and Bar might also wonder about the history of the rules.

I can attest to the history and reasons for the adoption of the professional civility rules. I was admitted to the Idaho Bar in 1982. By the time I became Chair of the Bar’s Professionalism and Ethics Section (PRE) I had grown tired of the lack of civility in the legal profession. I proposed to the PRE Committee, which included Past-Chair Judge J. William Hart and Vice-Chair Dick Fields and other great lawyers on the committee, that we draft civility rules for the bench and bar. With the committee’s unanimous support, I research the civility rules of several states and proposed that we use those of the Western District of Michigan as a template. Dick Fields and I consulted with many judges and lawyers about the rules. We made any revisions we felt were necessary. Interestingly, not one person with whom we consulted said that civility rules were not needed.

In 2001, we submitted the rules to the Bench and Bar for adoption. I have attached my letter to the Bench and Bar stating the reasons why civility rules should be adopted in Idaho and asking for their support. New Chair Dick Fields and I then attended several Bar Commission resolution roadshows concerning the adoption of the rules. There was unanimous support for the rules by the Bench and the Bar. (As an aside, at one of the Commission meetings I did get into an interesting discussion with Judge Ron Wilper concerning the meaning of the phrase, “First, let’s kill all the lawyers.” (William Shakespeare’s Henry VI).)

The Civility Standards were adopted in 2001. I have attached the reasons why the rules were adopted here. Perhaps it is time, two decades later, to re-examine whether additional attention to these rules is necessary.

Very truly yours,

Thomas B. Dominick
Boise, Idaho