Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Price Of Seafood

It seems like many of the most colorful disciplinary cases come from Louisiana. A Disciplinary Committee recently recommended a 36 month suspension of a lawyer who had been suspended on an interim basis as a result of a federal conviction for misprison of a felony "relative to a conspiracy to violate civil rights." The suspension would be nunc pro tunc to the date of the interim suspension.

The lawyer was trapped in the web of a now-disbarred judge. He was corporate counsel to a single client, who was embroiled in domestic litigation. The client owned restaurants ("Copelands"). The judge presiding in the domestic case wanted to do business with the client. The judge initiated ex parte contacts with the lawyer "to pursue a seafood supply contract" with the client. The lawyer refused to cooperate in providing the judge and his associate with seafood pricing information, which "created significant frustration by [the judge]." The lawyer had the pricing information but did not provide it. At the judge's request, the lawyer gave appetizers and refreshments at one of the client's restaurants to the judge's daughter for a birthday, as well as complimentary gift cards.

The lawyer was convicted of failure to report the conspiracy. He also "concealed the full extent of his knowledge when questioned by federal authorities." The committee was not entirely unsympathetic: "[The attorney] allowed himself to be a pawn. He was taken advantage of. He found it difficult to say no to a Judge, especially one who was presiding over his only client's case." (Mike Frisch)

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