Saturday, October 28, 2006

More on the Massachusetts Discipline Matter Alleging Extortion Plot

Here is a link to a Boston Globe on-line story with further details, following up on Mike Frisch’s remarkable previous post, on a Massachusetts bar discipline matter involving three attorneys alleged to have tried to extort a law clerk in order to help reverse an unfavorable trial court ruling. The Board of Bar Overseers, he reported, recommended disbarring two lawyers and suspending a third. The further details making the story curiouser and curiouser include the fact that the third lawyer used to be chairman of [wait for it] ... that Board of Bar Overseers (and once president of Nike). One of the others had been "ethics counsel" to two governors; another, a state prosecutor.

You cannot make this stuff up. But it does make a bit more sense out of the comment I made to Mike in reply before (below his post), as to how bizarrely careful (and ultimately lucky) they were to meet the clerk in a state where surreptitious taping is legal. (I thought at the time it seemed to be like making sure not to use the mails while murdering someone.) Maybe, I am now guessing, it was not such a bizarre calculus on their part. Perhaps lawyers involved in such a plot with a background in ethics and prosecutions may have calculated the difference between taping–an easily provable crime (and ethics offense) that is nearly strict liability because it does not seem to depend upon intent–and their larger plot, which presumably had some harebrained 'plausible deniability' built into it which came down to their word (their esteemed and ethically experienced word) against a lowly law clerk’s. They were not just MoeCurlyLarry after all, as I had suggested, yet they clearly did not count on law clerk getting FBI to mike them back. All of this is speculation on my part, but that’s what makes more sense to me after I know more about the three. How else did they think they could get away with this rube goldberg plot?  (One explanation [not mine but does explain the taping and strategy above somewhat]:  their view of the facts is correct, that they intended to expose judicial misconduct not extort anyone, over the hearing examiner's view.) Further blogging on this case is now found at How Appealing as well.  Anyway, the lawyer's former chairmanship of the BBO adds new meaning to the phrase 'bar oversight.'  [Alan Childress]

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