Friday, December 21, 2007

Threatening Letter Leads To Suspension

A sixty day suspension of an attorney was imposed by the North Dakota Supreme Court. In one matter, the lawyer stopped payment on a check to cover required payment to a subpoened witness. After he had been admonished for that violation, he not only continued to refuse to pay, but wrote a letter to the witness that made knowing false statements purportedly pursuant to the Federal Fair Debt Collections Act. A hearing panel found that the letter "had no substantial purpose other than to embarrass or burden a third person in that [the lawyer's] intention was to threaten and intimidate [the witness]..." In a second matter, the attorney made a knowing false statement to a tribunal in a divorce case. The court also found that the lawyer made a false statement to Disciplinary Counsel.

The court rejected claims that the evidence was insufficient to sustain the findings of misconduct. As to mitigation:

"{The lawyer] testified he 'over-identifies' with and seeks validation through his clients' causes, but he has recognized that he needs to change and has worked to change his behavior. {He] presented testimony from various individuals about his character and reputation. {He] also requests we consider his participation in the Lawyer Assistance Program, and we agree that his participation in the program is appropriate."  (Mike Frisch)

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/legal_profession/2007/12/a-sixty-day-sus.html

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