May 23, 2008
How Stupid Are You?
The Virginia State Bar Disciplinary Board revoked the license of a lawyer who also provided advice on land investments. The lawyer sold materials over the Internet regarding possible land investments. He then sought to sell additional materials to the buyer, leading to a dispute. The lawyer threatened to institute criminal charges as a result.
The recipient then retained counsel and advised the lawyer to cease direct communication with him. The lawyer continued sending emails to the buyer ("I don't care if you are represented by the Pope...Pay up or face imminent arrest" and "YOU ARE A THIEF...I'm a practicing lawyer in SIX jurisdictions, Federal and State. Your lawyer is giving you bad advice. Settle this or you will be arrested. I'm not kidding.") and also sent letters to retained counsel ("Lady, how stupid are you?"). A second buyer of land investment materials also was threatened by the lawyer.
The board found violations of Rule 3.4(i)(Virginia's rule prohibiting threatening criminal charges for advantage in a civil matter), 4.2 and 8.4. The lawyer had a prior sanction from Washington State for unauthorized practice stemming from the lawyer's Internet site. The lawyer did not participate in this disciplinary hearing. (Mike Frisch)
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