Wednesday, September 15, 2010

There's Promotion And There's Ethical Promotion

With HBO picking up his book for adaptation, Judge Nelson Johnson is riding high.

His superiors, however, have taken him down a notch.

His Honor wrote Boardwalk Empire, a work of non-fiction that laid out the corruption and shady goings-on in Depression-era Atlantic City. With illustrious actor Steve Buscemi playing a starring role in the upcoming television series, it's a sure hit and there's going to be a big uptick in sales of the original book.

Selling is all about promotion and the Judge was doing his bit to bring in the royalties. Apparently, his bit has run him afoul of ethics rules governing judicial behavior.

While he's allowed to write a book, he may not be permitted to do the book tour thing. Then there's his docket, which must take precedence over any other outside activities. There's no taking a long recess so that Judge Johnson can sit for an interview to plug his prose.

The publisher, Plexus Publishing, is wringing its ink-stained hands. The firm is small and was counting on the bump in sales to bring in some highly desirable profits, but if the Judge can't promote his book, they expect sales to suffer.

Not everyone gets HBO, after all, but an appearance on a morning talk show would make some difference in the marketing department. An intriguing tale, related by the man who put it down on paper, would go a long way to increasing the bottom line at Plexus.

Sadly, like most bureaucratic wranglings, it will take a long, long time for the Judge's rebuttal to be heard and a decision reached. In the meantime, the initial buzz will fade and the urge to buy Boardwalk Empire will slip away.

You'd get the impression that someone on the New Jersey Superior Court is green with envy over their colleague's sudden success. You'd think that jealousy is driving the promotion ban. How can plugging a book when time permits be contrary to proper judicial conduct off the bench? When someone else stands to make more money and mingle with Hollywood celebrities, do you think?

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