Monday, June 08, 2009

The (Un)Coolest 1L We Never Got to Meet, Or, How Marcus Epstein Became the new Chen Zhi-zhong

Remember Chen Zhizhong? The "coolest 1L" we never got to meet turned out to be - allegedly and tertiarily - involved in a massive money laundering scheme with his father, at the the time the President of the Republic of China. When a subpoena caused him to miss 1L orientation, UVA pulled the plug on his student status, and he never took a single class at the Law School.

Well, he made it further than Marcus Epstein, whom wikipedia describes as "an American writer-journalist and paleoconservative political activist." Epstein is the director of the TeamAmerica PAC, an organization founded by super-conservatives Tom Tancredo and Bay Buchanon that is "committed to enforcing our laws and securing our borders."

Alright, I'll assume everyone has been reading the AboveTheLaw coverage of this (cue-the-rule-12-f-you're-so-behind-the-curve-comments - - - but it's SUMMER after all), but in case not we'll summarize, in four easy steps:

(1) Epstein is makes some offensive statements here and there. ATL's Ellie Mystal does a good job of compiling them; among the highlights:
  • On a trip to Africa he snaps a picture with some baboons, and captions it "mixing with the locals." [ATL]
  • Likened "diversity" to a group of Santeria practicers violently assaulting mournerors a funeral home. [ - basically a racist, anti-hispanic website]
  • In the same article, said the following: "Diversity can be good in moderation—if what is being brought in is desirable. Most Americans don’t mind a little ethnic food, some Asian math whizzes, or a few Mariachi dancers—as long as these trends do not overwhelm the dominant culture."
  • Took the above picture (Epstein's in the middle) with the flag of a Flemmish "nationalist" party when he started an organization to "preserve Western culture"
  • There's some more of that on the website, and there's also a lot of genuine, mainstream Republican views
(2) On July 7, 2007, Epstein gets drunk, calls a black women he doesn't know in a Georgetown bar the n-word, and hits her in the head. For a bit of "context", Bay Buchanon has jumped to his defense. Epstein pleads guilty to what has been classified as a hate crime. Sentencing pending. In detail:

It seems that during the early evening hours of July 7, 2007, Epstein was walking near the intersection of Jefferson and M Street Northwest, in Washington, D.C., in a mild to severe state of intoxication. A friend of his later told the Secret Service that Epstein had been drinking. Apparently, Epstein was making offensive comments about non-whites, and decided to express himself more dramatically by calling an African-American woman passing by a “Nigger” and then attempted to karate chop her in the head. He was briefly detained by the woman’s husband, but escaped, only to be taken into custody minutes later by a Secret Service officer who witnessed the altercation.

All of the above details are taken from District of Columbia’s Superior Court records, which were obtained by the anti-racist group, One People’s Project. They show that Epstein, 25, has pleaded guilty to simple assault charges stemming from the incident and must appear on July 8 for sentencing. He faces a maximum punishment of 180 days in jail and a $1000 fine. He’s under a restraining order to stay away from the couple involved, has agreed to seek mental health treatment, complete an alcohol treatment program, write a letter of apology to the victim and donate $1000 to the United Negro College Fund.

(3) Epstein applies to and gets accepted to UVA Law, in the most competitive applicaiton season ever.

(4) AboveTheLaw "breaks" (well not really) the story - shortly thereafter, it appears that UVA rescinds his acceptance. Did he lie on his application about being convicted of a crime, or does UVA just not want to deal with the controversy? Bay Buchanon says that ATL "lynched-mobbed" Epstein; Mystal says Epstien has no one to blame but himself.

So another students gets embroiled in criminal controversy and bites the dust under questionable/secretive circumstances. What does everyone think? Did the schoold do the right thing here? What * did * the school do, anyway? If he really did lie on his application, that's legit, but what if he disclosed the "incident" and the school tossed him because of the ensuing controversy. Near as I can tell, the school has been mum about this . . . and there's no flutter of Taiwanese journalists on North Grounds this time to get to try to get the journalistic wheels turning.

We just wonder what he would have thought of Williams v. Walker-Thomas . . .

(EDIT: All that said, UVA Law Blog / the Virginia Law Weekly need writers, and if there's one thing Epistein does, it's write. So that's a loss. Epstein, if you're reading this, and you want to respond / address the UVA Law community, let us know.)

Chen Zhi-Zhong: The Coolest 1L We Never Got To Meet


Anonymous said...

FWIW, word is that he did not disclose the incident on his application "because it is a misdemeanor." Question #22 on Virginia's 2009 application reads: "Are there any disciplinary charges pending or expected to be brought against you?"

If the former is true, it would seem to be grounds for dismissal--and it would definitely be a poor decision by Marcus.

Anonymous said...

The kid is a blatant racist. I don't particularly care if he did or did not meet some formalistic requirement on the application form, or what the exact language on the form was (did he disclose properly? was it something that needed to be disclosed?). I think UVA Law was absolutely within its rights to rescind any admittance offer to protect its institutional reputation - the same way any employer can rescind its offer to a prospective employee.

UVA already has a reputation (justified or not) of being WASPy - we have nothing to gain and much to lose if we let this bigot walk around our halls. Good riddance I say.

Anonymous said...

(part I) Here is an interesting post by Bay Buchanan about this. According to her, he went to rehab after this incident and turned his life around.

If true, then I don't think UVa would be justified in rescinding his admission, unless he lied on the application.

"Last month the left wing blog, One People’s Project, posted a story about one Marcus Epstein. Within this story it was reported that two years ago next month Marcus assaulted a black woman in Georgetown calling her the “n” word.

That blog and its hundred spinoffs then got to the juicy part of the story: Marcus Epstein is executive director of The American Cause, founded by Pat Buchanan and of Team America, founded by Tom Tancredo.

With respect to the incident I have been asked not to comment by Marcus’ attorney since the case is still pending. But putting the incident aside, the stories about Marcus were for the most part inaccurate and incomplete. Yet, the left wing bloggers ran with this little factoid because the assailant worked for organizations associated with Pat Buchanan and Tom Tancredo.

What happened next was a modern day lynching by a faceless, angry, ignorant mob who reveled in the collective assault on their victim. They had wounded an adversary and drawn blood -- without pausing to ask how so talented a young man could have found himself in such a mess.

Anonymous said...

(part II)

I am telling his story because Marcus Epstein deserves to have his good name returned to him.

I run both the organizations Marcus works for. I have known him since he came to me as a college grad and asked to be an intern for The American Cause. That was three years ago. I knew of the assault the day it happened and was with Marcus the following day.

I write this story not as an excuse for Marcus’ actions. There is no excuse. Marcus would be the first to admit this, and he has, many times.

Marcus is half Jewish, and half Korean. He has a pronounced speech impediment, an exceptional mind, and a remarkable talent for writing. But it was only after this incident that I came to fully appreciate his finest qualities.

In his final semester of college Marcus awoke in a deep depression. He had no idea what was happening to him. He only knew he couldn’t do his work. Some days he couldn’t get out of bed. That summer he began the long process of diagnosis -- bouncing from one doctor to the next, from one medicine to the next.

While his intelligence and ability were evident, Marcus had serious problems. He drank to excess and suffered periods of deep depression. One Sunday early in 2007 Marcus called and asked if he could come to my home to talk. He was afraid of what he might do if he were alone another minute.

As he sat in my living room my heart broke. Never had I seen a person in so deep and dark a place. He spoke for hours of being a failure and disappointment to family and friends. He didn’t think he could live in this tomb of despair any longer.

After exhausting himself emotionally he went to one of my spare bedrooms to sleep. He stayed several months and left only when he felt he was strong enough to be on his own again. But the demons were too great.

Early one Saturday evening, several months later, I received a call from a friend of Marcus’. “Marcus is in jail,” he told me. The two of them had gone to Georgetown to have a drink before joining others for dinner, he explained. When they left their drinking hole, however, Marcus was completely intoxicated, nearly incapable of walking. It was then that the incident occurred.

Marcus was arrested and released that same evening. Unable to face this new level of disgrace and failure, he went to his office where he drank to make the pain go away -- for good. He was hospitalized for a week. His parents flew into town, conferred with Marcus, his doctors and his friends. It was clear. Marcus urgently needed professional help.

Marcus agreed and spent six weeks in a California facility. I told him if he did so he would have a job to come back to. In the last two years I have seen a transformation. He joined AA, attends meetings several times a week, and volunteers at detox and rehab facilities to help others struggling with alcoholism.

As for the assault Marcus was charged and a plea bargain was worked out.

It took Marcus a year after this incident to start thinking about a future. He took the LSATs and was accepted at the University of Virginia Law School on early admissions. The presence of a strong recovery community was one of the reasons he chose UVA and was ready to move to Charlottesville next month.

But the Left doesn’t care about any of this. They kept moving this little tidbit, watching it ricochet around their shallow world in the blogosphere, until it landed on a popular site for incoming law students. There individuals who claim they’re interested in carrying-out justice in this world saw to it that Marcus paid again for his offense. With nothing but a skeleton of a story they initiated a campaign targeted at UVA’s Admission Office. And they won -- Marcus will not be attending UVA Law School in the fall.

Marcus Epstein is one of the bravest young people I have ever known. He deserved a second chance -- as do all of us.

Anonymous said...

uh way to post something verbatim that was linked to already.

Anonymous said...

Bay Buchanan is a racist too.

Anonymous said...

Conspicuously omitted from Bay Buchanan's letter is whether Epstein in his recovery achieved the most skeletal enlightenment UVa ought to require from any of its admitted students: that people are worthy of our equal respect regardless of their race.

No one cared that he was depressed or an alcoholic. We cared that he was an unabashed racist. We felt confident in our judgment because the proof of these beliefs was unusually overwhelming.

Did he "rehabilitate" from that? *shrug* There are reasons to think that he hasn't.

In any case, I wish him the best in his recovery, but am quite glad he won't be here next year.

Anonymous said...

Marcus Epstein will hereafter be referred to as "the karate-chop kid."

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.