June 10, 2008
Personal Interests Trump Ethical Obligations
A recent hearing officer report, now pending before the Arizona Supreme Court, involves misconduct by a lawyer in the course of representing a friend. The friend had married an exotic dancer, who the lawyer told the friend prior to undertaking the representation that he "desired...sexually." The representations were adverse to the wife, involving assault and a petition for annulment. The lawyer visited the wife at her place of employment, where he declined her offer of a lap dance. She then hired counsel, but he continued to have contact with her without authorization from her attorney or the knowledge of his client.
While representing the friend, he told the wife "at least" the following:
After this case is over, I'd love to take you out.
When this case is over, I'm going to knock the bottom out of you.
I love to be near you.
I like you, I like you a lot. I do.
The lawyer also met the wife for dinner, discussed the case, and paid the bill. They also kissed; according to the lawyer "without his encouragement." ("For purposes of this consent agreement, the State Bar does not contest this statement.") He eventually withdrew from the domestic case, citing a conflict of interest, and withdrew from the criminal case after a bar complaint was filed by the wife's attorney. The hearing officer recommends a 60 day suspension followed by one year of probation. (Mike Frisch)
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Unfortunately, this kind of conduct is not isolated. It would be interesting to know if AZ has a specific rule prohibiting such conduct or if it is covered under the more general "officer and a gentleman" type code section which in my state, TX is Rule 8.04.
Posted by: Bruce A. Campbell | Jun 10, 2008 5:59:18 PM