Expatriate Owl

A politically-incorrect perspective that does not necessarily tow the party line, on various matters including but not limited to taxation, academia, government and religion.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Lynne's (not so) Little Liars


"I don't object to Gladstone always having the ace of trumps up his sleeve, but merely to his belief that the Almighty put it there."

--- Attributed to British MP Henry Labouchere.

As reported here, here, here and here, a New York City schoolteacher now stands charged with forgery and criminal possession of a forged instrument, in connection with her alleged falsification of an excuse to take sick leave time off from work. The potential maximum jail time is 7 years.

It is very likely that someone has it in for this hapless schoolteacher. In many respects it just isn't fair. I'd say that I sympathize with this schoolteacher, except that I, too, am biased against her.

The schoolteacher in question is Brenna Stewart, who is the daughter of traitor, terrorist collaborator and former attorney Lynne F. Stewart. Brenna is also admitted to practice law.

According to the allegations, Brenna used a fake doctor's note purporting to document that she suffered from a contagious disease in order to substantiate her sick leave request. The physician who wrote the note was not licensed to practice in New York, but is licensed in Florida. This physician is Zenobia Brown, who is Brenna's sister (and Lynne Stewart's daughter). Brenna also submitted a purported doctor's note from a nonexistent physician.

Brenna is also accused of altering a copy of a relative's death certificate in order to substantiate funeral leave.

The leave was used by Brenna to attend mom's trial and sentencing.

As an attorney who (A) is married to a physician; (B) has approved sick leave requests from government bureaucrat subordinates; and (C) has occasionally given broad interpretation to the applicability of sick leave when managing his own personal attendance/absence from work, I shall make the following observations, in no particular order:

A. On one hand, if you take away all of the baggage carried by Lynne Stewart and her family, this then becomes a petty picayune penny-ass case. Can't the prosecutors find something else to do on their time and the public tax dollars? Why can't they just boot Brenna from her position as a teacher (removal proceedings reportedly have been initiated)?

B. On the other hand, a criminal conviction on some of the more serious charges would likely result in Brenna's disbarment as an attorney. Maybe the prosecutors ought to go for it!

C. If Brenna Stewart is taking sick leave, or annual leave, or any other kind of leave from her job, then that means she is not teaching the kids, which is not such a bad thing.

D. And while we're on the subject of Brenna's fitness (or lack thereof) to practice law, what about Brenna's sister Zenobia's fitness to practice medicine? In all of my 20+ years of marriage to a physician, I have yet to even ask my wife to document a nonexistent illness, contagious or otherwise. Because I know what her answer would be.

E. In most governmental offices, a bureaucrat can generally go out sick for a day or two without having to document any illness or medical situation. Why did Brenna have to document the sick leave in the first place? It usually is the chronic abusers of sick leave who are called upon to substantiate their need for sick leave, not the ordinary working bureaucrats.

F. As Charlie Halpin, my Personnel & Labor Relations professor, used to frequently tell us, employees come in to work when they are sick, and stay home when they are well. Charlie acknowledged to us that this was more than a little bit of a facetious and hyperbolic statement, but it does have more than a grain of truth in it. These so-called "mental health days" are frequently a wise use of sick leave for employer and employee alike. I myself functioned better overall when I could take a day off from work once in a while, and I noticed this phenomenon in some of the people I supervised. An employee who crosses the line from boredom to demoralization is not very productive, and his or her production is error-prone and quality-deficient. A "mental health day" now and then can work wonders.

G. Lynne Stewart's tendencies towards duplicity and falsehood seem to have been acquired by her two daughters. Is this genetics or environment?

H. To be sure, Brenna's mere attendance at her mother's trial and sentencing was, in and of itself, an appropriate and admirable act. Being there to give moral support to one's parents does not necessarily amount to condonation of their misdeeds. But Brenna should have been able to figure out, in short order, that the venue she was attending would be the subject of national and international attention in the news media. My father has frequently said to me (even as late as a few months ago) that if one is going to do wrong, one should at least do it right. Applying this maxim to Brenna, people who play sick should at least act sick, and not place themselves into positions where their alleged illness is likely to be questioned! What was Brenna doing in a crowded courtroom if she really had a contagious disease? Did she think that her presence in the courtroom when she was playing sick would actually go unnoticed by the folks back at school?

And so, to paraphrase Henry Labouchere, I do not object to Brenna Stewart taking loose liberties with her sick leave, but merely to her belief that her profligate use of the sick leave privilege should be beyond all question and account.

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  • At 15 February, 2008 16:29, Blogger Me said…

    Excellent article. I suspect that the criminal conviction will greatly assist the school board and state bar in getting rid of Brenna so I'm for it.

    The whole Stewart clan needs to be transported to Guantanamo for the good of America.

  • At 15 February, 2008 18:52, Blogger Expatriate Owl said…

    First, they all must be permanently disbarred from the practice of law; else they continue to abuse the attorney-client relationship to help the other terrorists!


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