Monday, December 3, 2007

How Not To Win Friends And Influence Judges

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court suspended an attorney for five years for a number of instances of misconduct including two contempt proceedings arising from "refusing to desist from attempting to represent" a criminal defendant. The attorney characterized the proceedings as "absurd and outrageous...judicial lunacy and thuggery..." and accused the judge of "hateful fervor and personal animus...allegedly fueled by what is recognized in the legal community as a penchant for alcohol and a persistent state of hung over irritability..."

When another judge held proceedings to determine the attorney's competence to handle court appointments, the attorney  sent a letter to the Administrative Judge calling the proceeding a Kangaroo Court and attacking the judge in racially derogatory terms. The lawyer distributed a flyer that included a photo "of a large African-American woman with exposed buttocks sitting on the back of a moving motorcycle, next to which is stated 'Summer fun as [the judge in the competence hearing] Vacations in Camden, New Jersey.' " Needless to say, it was not a photo of the judge.

The Board and Court found that the attorney suffered from jaw cancer and that "unquestionably her illness had a serious impact upon her professional and her personal life." However, the sanction is appropriate as the attorney "remained unrepentant and continued to insist that she was entitled to malign and denigrate the judicial officials." (Mike Frisch)

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