To my Mormon friends – on Harry Reid: It was a sad day for Mormonism on January 20, 2016 when the J. Reuben Clark Law Society honored former Senator Harry Reid for his 34-year career in public politics with the Distinguished Public Service Award.
I have, and as a nation, we have listened to Harry Reid lie from the Senate Podium, repeatedly. While we generally understand it is the nature of politicians to lie in furtherance of their ideology, Harry Reid was neither artful nor at any time apologetic for the untruths he tried to foster upon the nation. The question arose in my mind, why did the Mormon Church give this award to Reid? After some study, I came to understand it did not.
With my confusion abated, I realized what made it a dreadful day for Mormons is that the announcement was not generally understood by many members of the church, but more importantly, it was not understood by the general public. That public believes the Church supports and rewards liars.
Compounding the misunderstanding is the fact the award was presented on behalf of the Society and by extrapolation the Law School; by Elder Lance B. Wickman, a general counsel for the Church and an emeritus General Authority. For those who may not know, emeritus means a person retired from professional life but permitted to retain as an honorary title the rank of the last office held. What Wickman was not – a Seventy.
Perhaps as I search my memory I have a bias. I learned the J. Reuben Law School (JRLS) had in the past on occasions accepted people without an undergraduate college degree. I applied. Of the schools that rejected my application, the curt response from the BYU-JRLS was the only one that chastised me for not having an under graduate college degree, noting I was “wasting their time,” and went on to say other negative things.
I kept that letter for a long time. Every time in my research I found the attorney on the other side with a J. Reuben Law School degree, I worked my butt off making sure my client had the best representation I could provide. In the Church we are advised against being prideful. I work hard at that admonition. Even so, I am pleased I never had a client lose to a JRLS attorney.
A quick comment to the J. Reuben Clark Law School and Society: Thank you for not giving me any awards, whether under the color of “public service” or otherwise. And thank you for making me a better attorney than I might have otherwise been.