NAACP condemns lawyer Norm Pattis over ‘racist’ image
Local attorney Norm Pattis posted Monday a photo depicting three white-hooded beer cans around a brown beer bottle hanging by the neck from a refrigerator rack to his Facebook page. The caption read “Ku Klux Coors.”
Dori Dumas, president of the New Haven Chapter of the NAACP, called it “unacceptable, degrading and disgusting.”
“He’s well aware how damaging and racist something like that is,” Dumas said. “He needs to be held accountable.”
Pattis said he “pulled the page this morning,” and referred to a blog post in which he discusses his dislike of the social media platform.
“Candidly, P.C. police disgust me. I’m done with Facebook,” he said. “Facebook censored it from a friend’s page. I reposted it to see it was true. Facebook pulled it. That’s ridiculous. I’m not going to give my data away to be told that I have to cater to the morbidly sensitive.”
“Welcome to the brave new world of the politically correct,” he said.
In his blog, Pattis explained his justification for being inflammatory on social media.
“I enjoy being provocative for the sake of provocation. I like to drop a bomb and then watch it explode in the comments section,” he wrote. “Why? It’s more than blood sport. I suppose I like the attention.”
Pattis’ Facebook account has since been shuttered, but he defended the inital post with another later Monday night, that read, “Let’s face it: If you’re white, you can’t be right.”
Pattis is well known in Connecticut legal circles as a passionate if sometimes controversial attorney. He is a frequent commenter on local and national news shows, has been quoted in The New York Times and previously had a regular column in The New Haven Register.
Pattis famously represented Anna Gristina, called the “Manhattan madam,” known for running a high-profile prostitution ring that allegedly attracted clients such as actor Charlie Sheen, among others.
His biography lists accomplishments in Civil Rights cases, and says he “represents people who face powerful foes.”
A promotional video on his website calls Pattis an “attorney, author, speaker, voice for freedom.”
Leslie C. Levin, who teaches at the UConn School of Law and specializes in ethical decision-making and lawyer discipline, said, “It’s terrible. It’s absolutely appalling. He can be fairly outrageous at times in terms of the things he says but this is beyond the pale.”
But Levin said there is little chance of an official sanction of any kind. A provision in the American Bar Association’s model rule book does prohibit “discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status or socioeconomic status,” but Connecticut has yet to adopt that specific model.
Connecticut’s version prohibits such activity “when such actions are prejudicial to the administration of justice,” but Levin explained that since “the photos were not posted in the course of representing a client, they are not prejudicial to the administration of justice except at a very high level of generality.”
“Even though what Pattis did was reprehensible, I still don’t think it’s enough for him to be disciplined under the Connecticut Rules of Professional Conduct,” she said.
Phone calls and emails to the Connecticut Bar Association were not returned.
Pattis has posted controversial statements to social media platforms in the past. In response to a video game in which a user shoots classmates, Pattis said it “sort of looks like fun.” He has publicly supported convicted rapist Bill Cosby, comedian Louis CK and others.
When newly elected Rep. Rashida Tlaib — the first Palestinian-American woman to serve in Congress — said on Twitter that she would “always speak truth to power,” Pattis replied, “No suicide bombing?”
Dumas said she was confused and saddened by Pattis’ posts, particularly considering his experience in the black community.
“People have a right to their opinion but to me this is crossing every line possible, especially from someone who is so well known in our community and who has represented people in our community,” she said. “What excuse can you have for that? That’s beyond reckless.”