Against My Better Judgment


“Enjoy the lawsuit I’m in the process of filing against you, psycho, arrogant, inferiority complex-ridden moron.”

-Matthew, then.

“I was just trying to make a living. I didn’t intend to defraud anyone. I was desperate, and desperation knows no boundaries.”

-Matthew, now.

 

I have now removed Matthew’s last name from my posts about him and their URLs. I cannot conveniently remove it from his demand letter, and I will not remove it from my commenters’ comments. Whether Greenfield or Tannebaum or anyone else who wrote about Matthew’s attempts to enlist me in a scheme to defraud Fidelity Investments is not my business.

I have gone as far as empathy requires me to go, and I have done so against my better judgment. Here I explain.

At the time, two and a half years ago, I held Matthew up as an example of why it is a waste of time to counsel lawyers privately about their ethical lapses: I had warned Matthew privately that he was proposing fraud, and he had declined to take my good advice, all before my first blog post.

After that blog post he kept poking the bear, and giving me more reasons to post about him.

Now, 30 months later, he sees the cost. He called me at 9:30 the other night, and started explaining himself. I told him I wasn’t interested in talking about it then, but that he could call me the next day.

So he started texting me until I told him to stop doing that:

Matthew: Mark, I would just ask that you would please remove your blog associated with my name along with the blogs of the other people associated with the Fidelity the Bockel. It is caused me a great deal of injury. Please respect my wishes as I would respect years.

I was just trying to make a living when I sent those requests out. I was at a dead end and had nowhere else to turn. I was desperate. What would you have done?

Me: Dammit I asked that you call me tomorrow. What is wrong with you.

Matthew: I beg of you to please remove the cyst, to please remove these blogs associated with my name. They come up first anytime somebody googles my name. How would you feel if you were just trying to make a living and something like this happened to you? How would you feel? Can you feel?

I have a family to feed. Every time my name comes up on Google it is associated with your horrible blog. Please help me.

I recognize that what I did was ignorant and premature. Please don’t make me pay for it for the rest of my life, the rest of my career. Thank you.

Me: Stop.

Matthew: Three years and $250,000

OK, I am stopping now. Forgive me.

Then he left this comment. “Desperation knows no boundaries.”

Nothing Matthew has said makes it make any sense for me to help him clear his name. If you are a lawyer, desperation had better know some boundaries. If he didn’t intend to defraud anyone he should have listened when I told him that what he was proposing was fraud.

“What would [I] have done?” When the lawyer with 20 more years of experience said, “Is there any chance I can, old dog to young pup, persuade you to stop now and not pursue this fraudulent course of action?” I would have invited him to persuade me, and I would have listened. Instead he insisted that it was not fraudulent, and then doubled and redoubled down.

Now Matthew offers no acceptance of responsibility, just excuses and accusations. Matthew doesn’t appear to see that his injuries were self-inflicted.

I still think Matthew is a crook, I think he is unselfaware, I think he’s a narcissist, and I think his judgment sucks. From his nocturnal communications he has an out-of-control drug problem. I don’t think Matthew should be practicing law. I think nothing has changed since 2015. I think he will get “desperate” again and try to defraud someone else.

So I’m inclined to keep the posts about him up to minimize the chances of that happening. I’m also inclined to keep him on the hook because he was a dick in 2015, and now appears to be a dick who blames me for the undeservedly benign consequences of a lawyer trying and failing to commit fraud.

Matthew should have been grieved in 2015. I may have kept him from being prosecuted. I think he should be thanking me for keeping him from continuing in a fraudulent scheme.

But I believe in redemption, and maybe Matthew just isn’t very good at conveying his appreciation. Maybe he realizes how badly he might screwed up his life if not for me, but can’t say it out loud.

What the hell do I know. As Shawn Roberts repeatedly reminds me, I am mortal.

So while it doesn’t make sense, and while the consequences that Matthew has suffered in the last two and a half years were if anything inappropriately mild, I’m letting him off the hook.

For now.


2 responses to “Against My Better Judgment”

  1. I think it’s an interesting personality trait to ignore advice from a lawyer (or any professional) more senior than you. Even though I was almost a 10-year-lawyer when I left the D.A.’s Office, I still sought out advice from defense attorneys. I also listened to it. Hell, I called you for advice last month. And, again, I listened to (and followed) it.

    I don’t get ignoring advice.

  2. Desperation acts like a pair of ear plugs. You can hear people talking to you, but they sound like the muted trumpet from Peanuts. And even then your desperate voice drowns them out.

    I feel bad for Matthew. You’ve clearly had an impact on him and were generous enough to try and help him. He obviously failed to get it then. Having read back through your earlier blog posts about him, it’s hard to tell whether he gets it now and can’t bring himself to say, “I fucked up” or is still acting out of desperation (or both). One can only hope that he steps back from whatever ledge he’s on,

    An old mentor had (has) a kind heart but dubious ethics. As I was starting out, I’d mentally note his questionable choices or tactics. It was hard to keep from raising my eyebrows on occasion. The times that he’d notice my raised eyebrows, he’d stop, look at me, raise one finger, and say, “Chris, the best advice I can give you is this: Don’t be like me!”

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