To the Editor:
Thanks for your piece
on WB Coyle. I'm glad to see someone calling out Coyle for his outrageous conduct over the years. That said, I can't agree with the characterization of the TIC buyers who used the Ellis Act to evict their tenants as victims. They turned the lives of innocent tenants upside down. They filed and pursued eviction cases against individuals and families who are the heart and soul of San Francisco. They were Coyle's partners.
Even if they didn't know what they were getting into at first, not one of them jumped ship once they realized that Coyle's whole scheme was predicated on evicting tenants. The fact they spent thousands on Ellis Act eviction attorneys, as noted in the article, is not evidence that they were victims, but rather that they willingly participated in the victimization of innocent tenants.
To the Editor:
It is inaccurate to describe Chen Guangcheng as a lawyer without qualification, as occurred in the article
by Lainey Feingold. People in the western world have an image of someone when they are described as a “lawyer” or “attorney.” This image is of someone who is credentialed by a school with a program that teaches legal theory or legal practice.
All large countries, including China, have a system that licenses or certifies people to identify those who are qualified to practice law and represent clients. Chen was illiterate until age 23 when he enrolled at a school for the blind. Four years later, he began training in Chinese medicine. He specialized in massage and acupuncture. Bodywork is about the only career path open to nearly all blind people in Asia, including China.
His family read legal text to him before he entered any school and he later audited law classes. Unlike in North America and Europe, Law schools are generally not open to blind people in China. Consequently, Chen is neither credentialed with a law degree nor certified or licensed or certified to practice law by a governmental or professional institution.
Many describe Chen as a self-trained lawyer. This term is rather generous because it suggests an equivalent legal training, similar to a self-trained computer programmer. His training is inferior to that compared to the legal education sighted people were able to obtain.
There are clear barriers of opportunity that Chen and other blind people face in China that prevent them from entering many professions, including that of law. It is these attitudinal barriers in many different societies around the world that prevent blind people from reaching their full potential. Elevating Chen’s status ignores the substantial attitudinal barriers erected by Chinese institutions toward blind people and others with disabilities.
Chen is remarkable for his ability to achieve so much with so little.
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