Michael Maslanka.
Michael Maslanka. (Danny Hurley)

College basketball season is in full swing. March madness is bearing down upon us. And there will be endless repeats of the classic movie, “Hoosiers.” (One of my favorites as well as the dean of my law school.) But to say that “Hoosiers” is a movie about basketball is like saying that “Moby Dick” is a novel about a whale.

There is a lot more there. When you watch the movie, you will see the time clock in the Hickory High School gym. Two words, one concept, are printed on it: “Fair Play.” Know where the concept comes from? The very first to use it? Shakespeare. Its derivation is from a mixture of older languages. Their translation is “beautiful pledge.” As the Shakespeare in Action points out, Shakespeare was shooting for something beyond “don’t cheat.” Rather, he was shooting for the new concept of respecting the opponent, refusal to exploit their weaknesses unfairly and displaying a positive mindset about the opponent and the competition itself, win or lose. And as I write these words, I can feel some of my sister and brother lawyers bristle. But buying into Shakespeare’s vision is both the right thing and the smart thing.

Let’s talk about three cases to illuminate this point. First up, Cincinnati Bar Association v. Stated, (Ohio Supreme Court 2003). A lawyer is deposing a key witness. The lawyer, before the deposition starts, pulls several tape cassettes from her briefcase, each labeled to suggest that the exponent had been recorded, and predominately displays the cassettes before the exponent. You guessed it, blank tapes leading to sanctions from the court. (Lawyers are prohibited from using deceit before a tribunal and a deposition is included in the definition of tribunal.)

In a second case, an assistant district attorney creates a false Facebook profile in which he pretends to be a woman. Why? Well, he is prosecuting a man for murder and the girlfriend of the accused won’t rat him out. So what’s an assistant district attorney to do? He poses on Facebook as another girlfriend of the accused, friends the accused’s actual girlfriend, and tells her he is a no-good cheating dog and she should flip on him. When this all comes to light, sanctions are imposed. Disciplinary Counsel v. Broiler, (Ohio Supreme Court 2016).

Feel a little balmy? On Dec. 12 of last year, our very own Fifth Circuit upheld sanctions against two lawyers. Their violation? They were defending an employer whose employee was accused of sexual assault by a co-worker. But the lawyers had a telephone recording of the employee/plaintiff suggesting the encounter was consensual. They did not turn it over under Rule 26 (a) (1) but sprang it on her and her lawyers at her deposition and sought to cha-cha around the rule by claiming the tape was impeachment evidence. No dice. Oligarchs v. Geo Group (5th Circuit, 2016).

At the University of Notre Dame (and Oklahoma University as well), players touch a sign before they enter the field of play. It does not encourage “cheat, just don’t get caught” or proclaim “win at all costs” or brag “winning is the only thing.” No, none of that. What it says is: “Play Like a Champion Today.” (Shakespeare would have understood.) At careers end, you will have a win/loss column. Try not to have an asterisk next to any Ws.

So good luck with your brackets, and here is hoping a Cinderella team makes the Final Four, and love you some Hoosiers.

College basketball season is in full swing. March madness is bearing down upon us. And there will be endless repeats of the classic movie, “Hoosiers.” (One of my favorites as well as the dean of my law school.) But to say that “Hoosiers” is a movie about basketball is like saying that “Moby Dick” is a novel about a whale.

There is a lot more there. When you watch the movie, you will see the time clock in the Hickory High School gym. Two words, one concept, are printed on it: “Fair Play.” Know where the concept comes from? The very first to use it? Shakespeare. Its derivation is from a mixture of older languages. Their translation is “beautiful pledge.” As the Shakespeare in Action points out, Shakespeare was shooting for something beyond “don’t cheat.” Rather, he was shooting for the new concept of respecting the opponent, refusal to exploit their weaknesses unfairly and displaying a positive mindset about the opponent and the competition itself, win or lose. And as I write these words, I can feel some of my sister and brother lawyers bristle. But buying into Shakespeare’s vision is both the right thing and the smart thing.

Let’s talk about three cases to illuminate this point. First up, Cincinnati Bar Association v. Stated, (Ohio Supreme Court 2003). A lawyer is deposing a key witness. The lawyer, before the deposition starts, pulls several tape cassettes from her briefcase, each labeled to suggest that the exponent had been recorded, and predominately displays the cassettes before the exponent. You guessed it, blank tapes leading to sanctions from the court. (Lawyers are prohibited from using deceit before a tribunal and a deposition is included in the definition of tribunal.)

In a second case, an assistant district attorney creates a false Facebook profile in which he pretends to be a woman. Why? Well, he is prosecuting a man for murder and the girlfriend of the accused won’t rat him out. So what’s an assistant district attorney to do? He poses on Facebook as another girlfriend of the accused, friends the accused’s actual girlfriend, and tells her he is a no-good cheating dog and she should flip on him. When this all comes to light, sanctions are imposed. Disciplinary Counsel v. Broiler, (Ohio Supreme Court 2016).

Feel a little balmy? On Dec. 12 of last year, our very own Fifth Circuit upheld sanctions against two lawyers. Their violation? They were defending an employer whose employee was accused of sexual assault by a co-worker. But the lawyers had a telephone recording of the employee/plaintiff suggesting the encounter was consensual. They did not turn it over under Rule 26 (a) (1) but sprang it on her and her lawyers at her deposition and sought to cha-cha around the rule by claiming the tape was impeachment evidence. No dice. Oligarchs v. Geo Group (5th Circuit, 2016).

At the University of Notre Dame (and Oklahoma University as well), players touch a sign before they enter the field of play. It does not encourage “cheat, just don’t get caught” or proclaim “win at all costs” or brag “winning is the only thing.” No, none of that. What it says is: “Play Like a Champion Today.” (Shakespeare would have understood.) At careers end, you will have a win/loss column. Try not to have an asterisk next to any Ws.

So good luck with your brackets, and here is hoping a Cinderella team makes the Final Four, and love you some Hoosiers.