Fault Lines
6 December 2018
fault lines farewell

Thank You, and Farewell

March 20, 2017 (Fault Lines) — At least for the moment, I still have the keys to this joint, and the ability to sneak in and leave a love note. Fault Lines was my baby. I gave it birth and nurtured it. It was conceived as an alternative to anything that existed on the internet, a bunch of writers who actually did what others only wrote about, saw from a distance. It would offer all legitimate views of the criminal justice system rather than pander to one perspective. Fault Lines would be the real deal.

And it was. We had criminal defense and prosecution. We had trench lawyers and judges, academics and cops. I sought out people who would fill niches that would challenge readers’ understanding and bias. Some readers hated it. Some readers appreciated it.

The original concept was to create a website that would not only be financially sustainable, but remunerative. I wanted to get enough traction to make some decent money so that we could pay writers. So that I could be paid for the time and effort put into Fault Lines. Alas, we never achieved that critical mass of readers necessary to do more than make a pittance. It’s unclear why, as the content here was truly good.

The writers at Fault Lines worked hard to bring you posts. They have jobs, practices, family and a life, yet they wrote for your edification, amusement, illumination and vicious attacks. Some of them did so for no better reason than I asked them. They never got a dime for their efforts. They often got their butts kicked by readers who hated any idea that didn’t confirm their feelz.

After it became clear that Fault Lines wasn’t going to be a money-churning machine, it was decided to go a different way. We formed FL Foundation, an educational non-profit, and started a new standalone website. Part of the reason for this shift was that I could no longer dedicate myself to the full-time job of making Fault Lines happen. It may not look that way on your side of the screen, but a great deal went into keeping this joint alive. Far more than anyone, even the writers, appreciated.

The writers chose to keep writing because they believed in the idea that you, the readers, should have something more real, more diverse, than the ignorant fluff you were being fed elsewhere. There was one overarching rule: don’t make people stupider. My respect and admiration for the efforts of the writers at Fault Lines is limitless. I know what they had to go through to make this happen. I know that they suffered to put content on this screen.

Yesterday, I resigned as Managing Editor of Fault Lines. I woke up yesterday morning tired and angry, as I had every morning for the two weeks prior. The demands of making this happen had not only continued after the change, but increased. And a confluence of events made it clear that there was little support for the back end of Fault Lines. Neither the time, effort nor money put into making this happen, or the rules or workflow or limitations, seemed to be worthy of concern.

This was meant to be a good thing. It was always going to be hard, even burdensome, but it was supposed to be worthwhile. Instead, I found myself angry and frustrated. Life is too short to spend it angry and frustrated. And so, it was time for me to walk away.

What will become of Fault Lines is unclear. Perhaps it will continue to live. Perhaps not. If it does, it will be because of the zeal of the writers who persist in trying to make you understand the real criminal justice system rather than the fantasy being sold elsewhere. Whether anyone can, or will, do the lifting I’ve done since Fault Lines was started is another matter. There is no vast wealth, fame or glory in doing this. It is, to be blunt, a thankless task. More thankless than I realized it would be when I started.

But I owe a debt of gratitude to everyone who writes, who wrote, for Fault Lines. I thank the readers, but your thanks is the content we put on the screen for you to read for free, to love or hate. It’s the writers I appreciate. I know what it took for you to produce insight day after day, when it was hard, when you had other things to do, when your kids were crying or your day in court was so shitty that all you wanted to do was drink a tall glass of scotch and go to sleep. And still you wrote, and wrote brilliantly. And you did it because I asked you.

Thank you. SHG out.

11 Comments on this post.

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  • Jason Carter
    20 March 2017 at 8:40 am - Reply

    While not in the legal field, I am avid reader of your site. I’d like to thank you for building the Fault Lines we have today and giving me fuel to feed the urgings of what is my missed missed career opportunity as a lawyer fighting the good fight. While I nothing of value to contribute from a content standpoint, any assistance as a web/tech guy that I can offer is yours for the taking.

    Once again, thanks for what you’ve built!!

  • Rider69
    20 March 2017 at 8:49 am - Reply

    I’m sorry I only found you a week ago. It’s been a real pleasure reading your writers’ work, and you’ve done a great job as editor. FL is one of only two worthwhile legal blogs on the Interwebs, so I hope it will continue to move forward with the same intelligence and excellent writing. Enjoy your down time. You will, I’m sure, be missed.

  • jea
    20 March 2017 at 10:27 am - Reply

    Thank you for all your passion to do something to help an average joe have a place to find unfettered opins in the law field!

  • Bruce Coulson
    20 March 2017 at 10:31 am - Reply

    Good luck to you in your future endeavors (although with your capabilities and work ethic, luck will be helpful but not necessary). You created a site where information (rather than feels and opinions) held sway, and that’s a rare accomplishment at any time, let alone now.

  • Keith
    20 March 2017 at 10:41 am - Reply

    F/L is a place where people involved in their field can lend some real world expertise to the story and help a reader who is willing to engage with an open mind.

    The internet is full of the unscrupulous twisting a story to fit a pre-defined narrative. It’s refreshing to see a group of writers willing to engage the underlying issues.

    I’ve read several legal blogs and many aren’t available to the layman and / or have little interest in speaking on a level to be understood the general public. That’s just one area where this blog shines.

    The content, whether it stems from prosecutors, defense attorneys, Article III Judges, or admirals, is presented in a way that asks the reader to think. More importantly, it permits a forum to engage with people you may never have a chance to chat with when reading legal stories on the net.

    Seriously folks, when was the last time you could ask a Federal Judge about what role bias plays in his sentencing and get a response? When can you ask a prosecutor about the limits on general warrants they deem appropriate?

    The blog is a great idea. I wish the next managing editor well. You have a lot to live up to.

    Enjoy the road ahead, Scott.

  • Larry Jelley
    20 March 2017 at 11:42 am - Reply

    You will be missed. I started reading the content over here at FL after the admins at my work decided to block SJ (as well as a lot of other blogs). Your contributions will be missed. As a non-lawyer with an interest in criminal justice, I have always appreciated the insight you bring to this site (and SJ) and your influence on legal blogging in general. Thanks again.

  • Jill McMahon
    20 March 2017 at 1:18 pm - Reply

    Thanks for all the good reads here and at SJ, Scott.

    20 March 2017 at 4:03 pm - Reply

    Mr. SHG:

    Wait a minute. I still need you and, I think you have an obligation, a duty, to at least keep a few toes in the water, even if the water is chilly.

    I’m working at reading and assimilating Dick Posner’s Economic Analysis of the Law, 9th ed, 2014. I’m loving it because the perspectives it provides and because it makes good sense. As a self-represented litigant, who along with others like me, who are not allowed on the SRL-network, you are one source of wisdom for us to refer to in our various quests for justice.

    Think about being around and available, as a Godfather and a Midwife for some interesting developments in state and federal courts. I witnessed, up close and personal, changes in the south in the aftermath of the civil rights acts of 64 and 65. Methinks the changes coming due to increases in access to justice, OF which you are an integral part, will be as meaningful as the 64 & 65 acts.

    Stick with us.

    Dwight Hines

  • Jason Peterson
    27 March 2017 at 9:07 pm - Reply

    One minor thing that would make the stories here more accessible to a wider audience, would be to make sure that whenever you reference a precedent setting court decision you also include a very brief (like one sentence) explanation of what that court decision was.

    Saying that a prosecutor hid “Brady material”, means nothing to the average Googler.

  • M. Kase
    3 April 2017 at 10:21 pm - Reply

    Is fault lines dead, then? Or did someone manage to piss off the feds and get everything under a gag order?

  • Brian Cowles
    3 November 2017 at 4:22 pm - Reply

    I meant to post this comment some time ago.

    I want to thank each and every writer here, and especially SHG for obvious reasons. It is an honor to have been here, and one I will never forget.

    I no longer tell lawyer jokes. I deeply respect each and every one of you, as well as the profession you have dedicated your lives to. I could never do your jobs, but I understand far more now about them. I think that the best thing I can do now is try to spread some of that understanding, so I do.

    Again, it has been, and will continue to be, an honor.