We’ll agree: the posters at the AutoAdmit/Xoxohth board—like commenters on DailyKos, Google and Yahoo! boards, Legal Underground, The Volokh Conspiracy, and even Overlawyered—can be distasteful or obnoxious, and all the more so because in Xoxohth’s case because the board is largely unmoderated. Posters have engaged in racial slurs and misogynist remarks; they are notorious for threads where posters evaluate the looks of female attorneys and law students. (Even my girlfriend was the subject of a brief thread.) The site has recently had negative publicity from a Yale Law student who blames a thread there for an inability to find a job and from a Boalt Law student who is facing expulsion because he briefly posted to AutoAdmit and quickly withdrew a poor-taste-joking threat of a Virginia-Tech-copycat at Hastings that resulted in the latter school being shut down for a day.
A Penn Law student who was an administrator on the site resigned in response to some of the shenanigans on the board in March. The WSJ Law Blog is reporting today that that was not enough for his future employer, Boston law firm Edwards Angell Palmer & Dodge, which withdrew its job offer to Anthony Ciolli, who (to my knowledge) is not accused of making any objectionable remarks himself. Now, an employer can reasonably decide that it does not wish to associate with a controversial employee (though the Massachusetts Civil Rights Act imposes on private employment relationships in some circumstances what are in most other states thought of as constitutional speech and freedom-of-association protections applicable only to governmental relationships, which may mean that Ciolli has a cause of action against the firm).
But the decision of Edwards Angell Palmer & Dodge to find Ciolli’s association with the AutoAdmit board disqualifying is curious if only because one of the attorneys at the same office of the law firm has been indicted for felony homicide for allegedly killing a man in an auto accident while driving under the influence of sleeping pills. (Three and a half pills were missing from a three-hour-old Ambien prescription, and the attorney allegedly admits “tasting” them.) Now, that attorney is entitled to a presumption of innocence in his criminal trial (he pled not guilty in the summer of 2006, a motion to dismiss was denied later that year, and I cannot find any reference to the current status of his case). But if you ever wanted to know how damning it is in the modern legal community to be associated with a controversial website accused of misogyny, you now have an answer: it’s worse than being accused of killing someone.