It is the stuff of fiction. The kind of story screenwriters live for. The type of movie you believe could be true (but hope it’s not). Only Fort Myers City Attorney, Grant Alley, isn’t an actor or an author. He’s not playing a part in a film.
He is an actual member of the Florida Bar and bound to uphold not only all of the ethical requirements assumed by all attorneys but also those ethical requirements and duties he assumed when he took the job as City Attorney. The allegations he put forth against the Fort Myers Police Department are all too real.
Alley told investigators that he fears for his life. He fears that he is being framed and is in danger. He has these fears due to a case he had been investigating. The details of the case include some evidence that certain members of the Fort Myers Police Department were tipping off drug dealers when search warrants were obtained.
These alleged tips allowed numerous dealers to get rid of any incriminating evidence. Alley felt a moral obligation to report his findings. This is when he started to fear for his life.
Ethics and Details
We are not here to pick a side and say Alley is right or wrong. We are here to demonstrate a very real ethical dilemma. Most of us would like to think we’d do the same. That we’d report misconduct when we see it. Being morally obligated to report criminal conduct is one thing, but being ethically obligated raises a whole host of issues. If Alley is convinced that a crime has occurred, does he have an ethical duty to report it knowing his life could be jeopardized?
How many of us would have the courage to do so knowing full-well that there could be consequences? On the flip side, Alley might be wrong. It is entirely possible that he put his case together incorrectly. That the evidence didn’t line up. That he didn’t dot all the ‘I’s’ and cross all the ‘T’s.’ What happens then? Does he still have a moral and ethical obligation?
If it is discovered that Alley doesn’t have his ducks in a row, his career could be in jeopardy. If the opposite is discovered, Alley might be applauded for his investigative skills. We read about this story this morning in the ABA Journal. The article notes that the Fort Myers Police Department did not respond with a comment.
This is a tough one. It’s a tough spot for Alley to be in. If he’s wrong, it’s a difficult career move. If he’s right, it will be a big scandal. We’d love to hear your thoughts on this one.