Wednesday, February 20, 2008
The Review Department of the California State Bar Court has recommended a suspension of one year, stayed except for 90 days of actual suspension, with 18 months probation in a case involving misconduct as follows: "not only did [the lawyer] harass a juror, he secretly tape-recorded a telephone conversation with an adverse party and then lied about it in litigation." The underlying case was a medical malpractice suit. "Although [the attorney] knew that [a doctor] would be a defendant in any medical malpractice lawsuit he filed, he failed to advise or warn [the doctor] of this fact in his [notive letter to the doctor]." As the letter led the doctor to believe he was considered a potential witness, he telephoned the lawyer, who tape recorded the conversation despite denying he was doing so.
After a defendant's jury verdict, the lawyer contacted a juror. The conversation "changed from being cordial to adversarial." The juror hung up on the lawyer after what he perceived as an "implicit threat" to contact the juror's employer.
The Review Department found the contact with the doctor and recording of the conversation as misconduct involving moral turpitude. A charge that the lawyer illegally recorded a confidential communication was dismissed as the "law was uncertain as to what was a 'confidential communication.' " The harassment charge was sustained: "[a] juror should not have to endure such intimidation merely because he refuses to aid an attorney." The hearing department recommendation for a lighter sanction was rejected due to the "intolerable" nature of the misconduct and lack of recognition of wrongdoing. (Mike Frisch)